Georgia football players on college rosters jump 44% in 10 years to 4,600

Kennesaw State running back Iaan Cousin (3) of Mount Zion High in Carroll County goes airborne over the Davidson Wildcat defense in the fourth quarter during a first-round FCS playoff game Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Cousin is one of more than 70 Georgia players on Kennesaw Mountain's roster. Kennesaw Mountain started football in 2015. (Daniel Varnado/ For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

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Kennesaw State running back Iaan Cousin (3) of Mount Zion High in Carroll County goes airborne over the Davidson Wildcat defense in the fourth quarter during a first-round FCS playoff game Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Cousin is one of more than 70 Georgia players on Kennesaw Mountain's roster. Kennesaw Mountain started football in 2015. (Daniel Varnado/ For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

More than 4,600 former Georgia high school football players are on college rosters this fall, about 44% higher than just 10 years ago, according to research by Steve Slay, a hobbyist who has documented the trend for the past 15 years.

How Georgia’s numbers rank nationally is not exactly known, as few states are fully researched, but almost every estimate from smaller samples puts Georgia no worse than fourth behind California, Texas and Florida.

Slay’s research suggests Georgia is closing fast if not surging ahead.

“You use states like California as an example, the numbers playing football there are declining big-time,” said Rusty Mansell, a college recruiting analyst for 247Sports. “The numbers are not declining in the state of Georgia. You are seeing communities investing in their programs with indoor practice facilities, feeding their players year-round, etc. Schools are recruiting the state of Georgia because these players are ready to play on the next level, and that is from multiple levels of college football.”

The increasing Georgia numbers are in part the result of more college football programs.

In Georgia alone, Berry, Kennesaw State, Mercer, Point, Reinhardt and Shorter have started playing football since 2011. Those six have more than 500 Georgia players this fall.

But the growth in football teams nationwide is only about 8-10%, not nearly enough to account for some 1,400 additional Georgia players.

Among Georgia high schools, Grayson with 70 has the most 2021 college players. Following the Rams are Norcross (53), Buford (47), McEachern (43), Archer (42), Westlake (42), North Gwinnett (41), Roswell (40) and Stockbridge (40), according to Slay’s research.

Classification leaders, in addition to Grayson, Buford and Stockbridge, are Class 4A’s Hapeville Charter and Stephenson (34 each), Class 3A’s Cedar Grove (39), Class 2A’s Callaway (17), Class A Private’s Eagle’s Landing Christian (24) and Class A Public’s Manchester (11).

The schools with the most Georgia players predictably are those in state. They include Reinhardt (103), West Georgia (103), Shorter (102), Berry (95), Savannah State (81), Fort Valley State (79), Georgia Southern (76), Georgia Tech (76), Georgia (75), Mercer (74), Kennesaw State (73), Albany State (66) and LaGrange (65). Slay found 1,532 Georgia players playing college ball in the state.

Out-of-state teams with the most Georgia players are the Cumberlands of Kentucky (52), Chattanooga (33), Presbyterian (31), Auburn (31), East Tennessee State (31), Army (30), Charleston Southern (30) and Gardner-Webb (30).

Most Georgia players (54%) compete at levels below Division I, with 25% at Division II, 14% at Division III, 11% in NAIA and 4% at junior colleges. Only 26% play in NCAA’s FBS division, while 19% play for FCS schools such. Only 14% play in Power 5 conferences such as the SEC and ACC.

Slay’s list of 4,631 players – up from about 3,200 in 2011 – has been formatted by Georgia High School Football Daily and can be found on its website.

Slay is a long-time volunteer contributor to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association.

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