A talent-rich football area

By Anthony Rhoads

There's no doubt there's a lot of football talent in the Southern Crescent, particularly Clayton County.

Right now, there are dozens of former local standouts who are on NCAA Division I-A and I-AA rosters throughout the country.

There's former North Clayton standout D.J. Shockley at Georgia and this year, he's joined by incoming freshman Jeremy Lomax, a defensive end from Lovejoy. Former Mt. Zion standout John Huber is currently on Georgia's practice squad.

At Georgia Tech, there are two Jonesboro representatives, freshmen Jamal Lewis and Darrell Robertson.

It would be pretty hard to list everyone else across the country but there's a local presence not only in the SEC and ACC but in the Big 10, Big 12, the Southern Conference, the MAC, Conference USA, the SWAC and the Sun Belt Conference.

Even though it's neat there are so many local guys playing college football right now, it's nothing new. The current guys are just carrying on a tradition that's been going on for years.

Here is a glance at some former local standouts who have gone on to play college and pro football:

Andre Hastings played on the 1987 Morrow team that won the state championship. Hastings went on to Georgia and later became one of the top wide receivers in the NFL. He caught 10 passes in Super Bowl XXX with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Hines Ward, of Forest Park, went on to become a standout at Georgia and is still with the Pittsburgh Steelers going into the 2004 season.

Scott Woerner, of Jonesboro, played for Georgia and was on the 1980 team that won the national championship. Woerner was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons and he also played in the USFL.

Dainon Sidney, of Riverdale, went on to play for the Tennesee Titans and played in the 2000 Super Bowl.

Emmanuel McDaniel, of Jonesboro, played for the New York Giants and played in the 2001 Super Bowl.

Jack Aaron, of Forest Park, played in the 1960 North-South All-Star Game and signed with Clemson. He later played with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Mareno Philyaw, of North Clayton, played college football at Troy State and was picked by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2000 draft.

David Horn played at Riverdale from 1988-90 and signed with Tennessee.

Sam Kelly played at North Clayton from 1975-77 and was the Clayton defensive Player of the Year. He went on to play at Georgia Tech.

Mike Martin played at North Clayton from 1984-86 and went on to play at Georgia.

Thornton Marshall played at Mt. Zion from 1995-97 and went on to Auburn. He gained 1,358 yards rushing his senior year at Mt. Zion and scored 13 touchdowns.

Jeff Howard was the starting quarterback for Morrow during the state championship season of 1987. He went to Georgia Tech and was on the team that won the national championship in 1991.

Robert Arnaud played at Morrow from 1993-94 and went to Georgia. He later played in the NFL including a stint with the Baltimore Ravens.

Tracy Smith played at Jonesboro from 1986-87 and later was a starting cornerback for the Tennessee Volunteers.

Anthony Rhoads is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Wednesdays. He can be reached at arhoads@news-daily.com or sports@news-daily.com.