Covering High School Sports in America
Stephenson (Stone Mountain, Ga.) in Stone Mountain led Georgia in college signees on Signing Day for the third straight year.

Stephenson has 26 seniors headed to college football, 24 who signed Wednesday, two who enrolled at their schools in January.

‘'We had a real good day,'' said Corey Johnson, the Stephenson assistant coach who coordinators recruiting for a school that has sent over 75 players to college the past three years. "I'm a proponent of kids going to school.''

This year's class included running back Mike Davis (signed with Florida), defensive end Jarontay Jones (Virginia Tech) and linebacker Raphael Kirby (Virginia Tech).

The 26 rank below the school record of 29 from 2010, but this year included the most Division I signees. There were 14. Of those, 12 signed with Football Bowl Series (FBS) schools. The most D-I signees for Stephenson had been the 10 in 2011.,

Johnson was asked if Stephenson's higher number of major D-I players was an issue of more talented players, or college coaches noticing past success at the school and giving Stephenson a closer look.

‘'I think it's little bit of both,'' Johnson said. "If you're a D-I kid at Stephenson and they don't offer you, they you're not a D-I kid. We've got a lot of information on our kids and a lot of people coming in to see them.''

But there was more high-end talent this year, too. Johnson noted that four of the D-I signees were transfers, including Kirby, who came from nearby Parkview. The others were safety Kyle Fleetwood (South Carolina), tight end Joshua Parrish (Syracuse) and running back T.J. Moon (Richmond).

"There are a lot of people in a situation where they want their kids to go to college, and we've got kids moving into our community because of our success,'' Johnson said.

What makes the recruiting so successful is largely the work of Johnson and the rest of head coach Ron Gartrell's hands. Stephenson does a better job of getting film and academic information in the hands of coaches than almost any other school.

Many of the signees didn't start. Stephenson's Wing T backfield of Davis, Moon and Purnell Whitehead (Concordia) sign, but do did four backup running backs.

Johnson says Stephenson has not sent a player to a junior college in four years, which he says is evidence of how the school is stressing the academic side.

‘'People don't realize you've got to be able to keep your athletes eligible to play,'' he said. "When you see schools put out high numbers, that's a tribute to how well school prepares kids academically.''

Stephenson finished 9-2 this past season, losing to state powers M.L. King and Lowndes.

Stephenson's class of 2012

LB Darreon Herring – Vanderbilt (already enrollee)

LB Raphael Kirby– Miami (early enrollee)

S Kyle Fleetwood – South Carolina

CB Shawn Blaylock – Kentucky

DE Jarontay Jones – Virginia Tech

OL Jafar Mann – Florida

DT Carlos Hood – South Carolina

WR Demarcus Sweat - Kentucky

RB Mike Davis – South Carolina

FB Michael Dales – Concordia

FB Michael Turnipseed – Concordia

RB Purnell Whitehead – Concordia

LB Kadeem Murray – Carson-Newman

CB Kristoff Ricks – Mars Hill

CB Teddrick Allen – Mars Hill

RB Jordan Fitzpatrick – Concordia

DB Sir David Brooks – Mars Hill

WR Lontario Collier– Tusculum

LB Brandon Blaylock – Tusculum

DT Brandon Addison – Tusculum

FB/LB Amos Harper – Sanford

TE Joshua Parrish - Syracuse

RB T.J. Moon – Richmond

OL Steve McKenzie – South Alabama

OL Nicholas Gibbons – Ohio

OL Najee Daniels – Johnson C. Smith