Staff Photo: Jason Braverman — Norcross' Alvin Kamara acknowledges the crowd with a fist bump after announcing that he'll sign with Alabama on National Signing Day. Kamara chose the Crimson Tide over the University of Georgia.
College football's National Day of Optimism came Wednesday, when high school seniors sign with colleges and fans brag about why their school's class was the best.
Locally, we hear it heavily from Georgia Bulldog fans, whose program certainly signed its share of talent from the Class of 2013 and earned a No. 10 national ranking by ESPN, though the class is likely boosted by its sheer size (32 signees). UGA also got some good players from Gwinnett in Brookwood's Shaun McGee, South Gwinnett's Reggie Carter, Buford's Josh Cardiello and North Gwinnett's Devondre Seymour.
But it's hard not to consider what might have been with the Bulldogs' signing class, given what happened locally and state-wide.
Georgia high-schoolers filled up 11 of the top 100 spots on the ESPN 300, its list of the top national recruits. Of those 11 (I'm counting Troup's Reuben Foster, who moved to Auburn, Ala. as a senior), only one --39th-ranked Shaq Wiggins --signed with UGA.
The nation's consensus No. 1 player, Grayson's Robert Nkemdiche, went to Ole Miss. The No. 2 national player on ESPN's list, Milton's Carl Lawson, went to Auburn, as did No. 13 Montravius Adams.
Ohio State dipped into Georgia to get No. 48 Trey Johnson of Central Gwinnett and No. 50 Vonn Bell of Ridgeland. Florida and Alabama hit the state hard, too, nabbing top recruits, including two Crimson Tide-bound running backs, Norcross' Alvin Kamara (No. 32) and Walton's Tyren Jones (No. 63).
Of the 32 Georgians on the ESPN 300, only eight signed with Mark Richt's Bulldogs.
Gwinnett also had its share of talent go out-of-state on Wednesday, with a trio --Grayson's Wayne Gallman and Ryan Carter, and Brookwood's Ky Priester --going to Clemson. Archer's Antonio Riles signed with Florida and Mill Creek's Kelsey Griffin signed with South Carolina. Grayson's David Kamara joined his friend Nkemdiche at Ole Miss.
How many of those recruits would UGA coaches have loved to sign? Quite a few. And Georgia Tech? The Yellow Jackets are rarely a factor for most of those top recruits.
But that's a major challenge facing the in-state teams yearly because Georgia ranks among the nation's best in high school football talent. The recruiting pushes from out-of-state schools are harder than ever because of the surge in Peach State talent, making it increasingly difficult to lock down the borders.
No longer is it a given that the majority of Georgia's best high school players dream of wearing red and black, so UGA's coaches have to work harder than ever on in-state kids.
If you're a glass half-full kind of person, I'm sure you love the Bulldogs' class. From the opposite perspective, it's tough not to wonder what Wednesday might have been like if UGA had more success locally.
That's kind of a bummer, though. What fun would a National Day of Pessimism be?
Will Hammock can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.