Carter, Autry headline big day for Norcross signees

There were no signing-day surprises at Norcross High School on Wednesday, only jubilation, pride and even a few tears.

Lorenzo Carter, the state’s top recruit, picked Georgia over LSU on ESPNU. His decision came around 3:40 p.m. and had Bulldogs fans screaming in a packed Norcross auditorium and in the hallways in Athens.

“I know in our hallway, a lot of screeching and screaming,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I assumed it was Lorenzo saying yes.”

Minutes later, highly regarded Norcross playmaker Myles Autry turned down BCS champion Florida State to sign with Georgia Tech. Autry, whose decision also was broadcast on ESPNU, is considered to be coach Paul Johnson’s best pickup in years. Autry said he didn’t make his decision until around 10 a.m. Wednesday, and, ultimately, the chance to play with his older brother, Tech wide receiver Anthony Autry, was too much to pass up.

“It helps my mom out a lot,” said Myles Autry, who had Florida State, Oregon, Ohio State, Florida State and Tech hats in front him.

Carter, a 6-6, 230-pound defensive end, was considered the state’s top recruit by 247Sports.com. He had 132 tackles, including 40 for losses during a standout senior season. His decision comes after an intense recruiting battle that at one point had Florida and Florida State coaches sitting on either side of his parents at a Norcross basketball game. In the end, it came down to LSU and Georgia, Carter said.

“Both schools are great, and I respect both coaching staffs,” said Carter. “I think Georgia won out because of the proximity to home. I realized there was nothing I could get at LSU that I couldn’t get at Georgia. And if I did it at Georgia, it would be so much bigger for the state.”

Wearing an unusual printed sport coach he described as “swag,” the amiable Carter chit-chatted with the crowd and pointed out that one of the hats he brought on stage was a tribute to members of the Armed Services.

Autry’s senior season started slowly, but finished strong. After offseason knee surgery, Autry missed the opener against national-power Booker T. Washington of Miami and played sparingly early. But he made big plays down the stretch and sparked a comeback in the state championship game with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, after the Blue Devils fell behind 14-0 to region-rival North Gwinnett.

He’ll play A-back and return kicks on special teams for the Yellow Jackets.

Carter and Autry were two of 26 Norcross seniors who signed to play college football, including seven who are headed to power conferences. Quarterback A.J. Bush signed with Nebraska; wide receiver Clinton Lynch with Tech; linebacker Kevin Mouhon with Cincinnati, tight end Christopher Herndon with Miami and defensive back Ridwan Issahaku with TCU.

They are a part of a senior class that won back-to-back championships in the state’s largest classification.

By the middle afternoon of another frantic signing day, most recruiting experts believed Carter would pick Georgia and Autry would go with Tech. But, while there weren’t any last-minute surprises, there were some strong emotions when the Cincinnati-bound Mouhon took the stage with his family.

Mouhon, a star linebacker, thanked his teammates, coaches and entire community for rallying around him, after his father, Paul Mouhon, suffered a severe stroke early in last season and has struggled to recover. Kevin’s mother tried to speak, but was moved to tears. Kevin gave her a hug.

“I just told her to be strong. That’s how Dad would want to us to be,” he said.

Kevin Mouhon earlier committed to Tennessee, but later chose to join his older brother, Silverberry Mouhon, at Cincinnati.