By Doug Gorman
In almost 18 years in the sports writing business, I have never kept up with how many former high school athletes from my coverage area have made it to the pros.
To me, it's not that big of a deal. If you stay in this business long enough, the law of averages dictate that somebody will sign a contract with a professional team.
I do know former Newton County High School defensive back Dale Carter has played in the NFL. Carter was one of my very first interviews just weeks after I graduated from college in 1988. Carter had been selected to play in the GHSA North-South High School football game, and I interviewed him for a preview story while working for the Covington News. Carter gave me another big story after he was the named the MVP for the North squad.
I also had the chance to cover Tim Hyers during my days in Covington.
The former Newton County Rams baseball player was involved in one of the best high school games I have ever covered when he pitched in a 1-0 loss against Parkview, and gave up just one hit. Hyers made it to the pros as an infielder and spent four seasons in the majors, playing with the Padres, Tigers and Marlins before giving up baseball after the 1999 season.
Long before he became a sure-handed wide receiver, I also did a story on Reggie Brown.
That piece was written during my days at the Times-Georgian in Carrollton.
Brown was a soft-spoken 9-year old who had run away with a recreation track and field event, winning several events.
Now, the former Georgia Bulldog is about to become a possible first-round draft pick when the NFL draft is held later this month.
The next few years could be a breakout time for athletes from the Southern Crescent as they attempt to make it to the pros in their chosen sport.
As the baseball season gets a jump start this week, several Henry and Clayton County natives are making their way through the minor leagues.
I still remember Kyle Davies' ability to throw a baseball.
Whenever he took the mound for the Tigers, baseball scouts armed with their radar guns showed up in droves to watch the tall right-handed pitcher.
Former Stockbridge coach Bill Pate got so tired of scouts calling to ask when Davies was pitching again, he started putting the information on his voice mail. Davies started for Richmond, the Braves Triple-A farm club, Thursday, in the team's season opener.
Former Eagle's Landing standout Matt Murton and Jonesboro slugger Jason Perry are also at the triple-A level.
Both players were also teammates at Georgia Tech.
Murton plays with the Cubs organization and Perry is with the Oakland Athletics' top farm team. The outfielders know how to win. During their days at Tech, the Yellow Jackets played in the College World Series in 2002.
There has also been a long basketball and football pipeline leading out from the Southern Crescent to the major college level. So it's just a matter of time before Auburn basketball player Toney Douglas or one of the many Division I football players gets their chance to play in the pros.
But making it to the pros is not the only measure of success. Most high school athletes will never make it to the big leagues.
I have run across former athletes who 10 years after playing their last games are succeeding in business, education, the ministry and other areas of their lives, including parenthood.
That's important too as these young men and women prove there is also life after the cheering stops.
Doug Gorman is the sports editor of the Daily. His column runs on Fridays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .