Donavan Tate, the Cartersville High School baseball star who was the third overall pick in the MLB Draft last week, is the latest in an impressive line of Georgia athletes who were football stars but perhaps even greater in baseball. Tate was chosen by the San Diego Padres, but he hasn't ruled out playing football at North Carolina. He was an all-state quarterback and defensive back on his high school football team.
Here is a list of the 10 best football-baseball players in Georgia high school history:10. Marquis Grissom, Lakeshore (College Park):
Grissom was a first-team all-Class AA quarterback in 1985 as a senior, but he played baseball at Florida A&M before the Montreal Expos drafted him in the third round in 1988. Grissom had a 17-year major league career as a center fielder. He secured the final out in the Atlanta Braves' victory in the 1995 World Series.9. Jeff Pyburn, Cedar Shoals (Athens):
The son of a major leaguer, Pyburn was a first-team all-state quarterback for Class AAA and a Coach and Athlete Magazine All-American in 1975, when Cedar Shoals went 9-1. He was the University of Georgia's starting quarterback in 1977 and 1978 and also played baseball for the Bulldogs. He was a first-round pick (the fifth player taken overall) of the San Diego Padres. Pyburn had tremendous speed, but a knee injury from football slowed him a bit. Pyburn never made the major leagues.8. Cris Carpenter, Gainesville:
Carpenter was the first-team all-state quarterback in Class AA in 1983, when he led Gainesville to the football semifinals. He also was a marvelous punter. That was his football duty at the University of Georgia. He also was a crack basketball guard who led his school to two state titles in that sport. But he was best known as a hard-throwing relief pitcher. Carpenter led Georgia to the College World Series and was a first-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals. He spent nine seasons in the major leagues.7. Gordon Beckham, Westminster (Atlanta):
Beckham broke Westminster's record for touchdown passes in a season held by his father (Gordon Beckham II) with 26 in 2004, when he was the unanimous first-team all-state quarterback for Class AA. He led Westminster to an 11-1 finish. But Beckham was better known then as a top baseball prospect, and he set an SEC record for home runs while at Georgia playing shortstop. Beckham was a first-round pick of the Chicago White Sox last year and made his major league debut last week.6. George Lombard, Lovett (Atlanta):
Lombard was the Class AA offensive player of the year in 1993. He signed with Georgia as a highly recruited running back but went with the Atlanta Braves, who chose him in the second round out of high school. Lombard played parts of six seasons in the major leagues as a backup outfielder.5. Quincy Carter, Southwest DeKalb (Decatur):
Carter was the all-class player of the year and Mr. Georgia Football in 1995, when he led Southwest DeKalb to a Class AAAA championship. Carter had signed to play football at Georgia Tech but was drafted in the second round by the Chicago Cubs and took the baseball route. Carter played three seasons in the minors before returning to football. Signing with Tech's rival, Carter was a three-year starter at Georgia and played five seasons in the NFL.4. Buck Belue, Valdosta:
Belue was the Class AAA back of the year as a senior quarterback in 1977 and set Georgia's career record for passing yards. He also was taken in the second round (44th pick overall) by the Chicago White Sox. But Belue chose football and was Georgia's starting quarterback for the 1980 national championship team. Belue was drafted again in the MLB Draft in 1982, this time in the sixth round to the Montreal Expos, and played in their minor league system. He never cracked the majors.
3. Donavan Tate, Cartersville:
Tate had decided to give up football last summer and wasn't on Cartersville's team for its opener. But he missed the sport and his teammates and returned for a glorious senior season. He won the quarterback job by mid-season and led Cartersville into the second round. He has signed to play football and baseball at North Carolina, but he'll be hard-pressed to turn down big money from the San Diego Padres, who made him the No. 3 overall pick. Tate is the son of former NFL football player Lars Tate.2. Charlie Dudish, Avondale:
A legendary Georgia high school athlete, Dudish was the state's No. 1 prospect in football and baseball his senior year and probably the nation's best two-sport athlete in 1967. The San Francisco Giants drafted him in the second round out of high school, but he chose football, for which he was the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's
Class AAA back of the year. Dudish started as a sophomore at Georgia Tech (freshmen weren't eligible then) but was kicked off the team before the season ended. Then in 1971, despite his off-field troubles, Dudish was drafted in the first round by the San Diego Padres. A wrist injury suffered in football robbed him of his power, and Dudish played in the minor leagues only.1. Jeff Francoeur, Parkview (Lilburn):
Francoeur was Georgia's all-class player of the year in 2001, when he led Parkview to its second straight Class AAAAA championship as a wide receiver and defensive back. In fact, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
listed him among the best 25 football players in state history in a 2007 article. Francoeur had signed to play football and baseball at Clemson, but the Atlanta Braves chose him in the first round of the 2002 MLB Draft. He has been the Braves' right fielder since 2005.Todd Holcomb produces a free email newsletter called Georgia High School Football Daily. To subscribe, click here.