By Jeffery Armstrong

After hearing about a couple of high school athletes who have been convicted recently of statutory rape (the Marcus Dixon case is the most popular one), I was moved to write a column and address it to the young male athletes in Clayton and Henry counties who I see on a regular basis and to non-athletes who may see this. The message is simple: guys, leave these young girls alone.

Now, I may catch some grief about this column, but that's alright. That's a part of doing this gig. You young male athletes really need to concentrate on hitting the books and scoring points in your particular sports then "scoring" with the girls.

I know, dudes, that it's easier said than done. I go to your high schools to cover games and I see how good these girls look. I notice that several girls wear outfits like they're about to head to the club after school. I know what you're going through n girls dressed a little like that when I was in high school.

When I was a teen, my father said the same thing to me. He told me to hit the books hard; girls will be there. And he made sure I did, too n he was always on me about my homework. And I'm glad he was. He really wanted me to get through high school (and even college) without having a child to take care of at a young age. And I know my folks didn't want me to be involved in a rape case n that would've crushed them.

I kind of put my dad off for a minute because I really wanted to start dating and all that jazz, but I realized he was right. Girls WILL be around. They'll be there when you become men, whether you're athletes or not. If you listen to your hormones and not your heads now, you could wind up in jail pretty easily.

Popular actor Will Smith wrote a rap song back in the day (when he was The Fresh Prince) called "Girls Ain't Nothin' but Trouble." It was pretty funny and to a degree, he was right. If you put too much emphasis on girls, you're bound to get into trouble in school or in life or both.

Singer Lauryn Hill had a line in her song "Doo Wop (That Thing)" from her Miseducation of Lauryn Hill CD where she said that some girls and some guys are only after "that thing." Now while there are plenty of good high school girls out there, there are some who are only after "that thing" and will look to you athletes for it. You have to be careful of them.

I remember reading a story a few years ago about Gerald Riggs, Jr., the son of former Atlanta Falcons running back Gerald Riggs and a very good high school running back. Riggs Jr. mentioned in that story that girls like to be around a guy who they feel has the potential to be successful. That's a pretty potent statement coming from a 17-year-old.

And you know what, guys? He was exactly right.

So, dudes, if you're with a girl you like and things start to get hot and heavy, think about the convicted athletes and this column and put the brakes on and wait. Trust me, you'll thank me later. And once you make the professional ranks without arrests or children, I can accept my thanks via checks or money orders.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at jarmstrong@news-daily.com.