By Derrick Mahone
Coaches from the area were armed with plenty of DVD tapes, transcripts, player bio information, a television monitor and their sales pitch.
For nearly five hours in the Henry County High gymnasium, the coaches had a captive audience interesting in hearing their pitch and watching film. The annual Southern Crescent Recruiting Fair attracted college coaches from across the country in hopes of finding that hidden gem that might have been overlooked.
About 75 coaches at non-Div. I bowl championship series schools flocked to McDonough Thursday to watch countless film and pour over high school transcripts of senior players.
The event, coordinated by Henry County coach Mike Rozier, was deemed a success from the high school and college coaches.
"This is all done to help the kids," Rozier said in between showing film and making his pitch to several college coaches.
"This gives the college coaches a chance to knock everything out in one day. I was a little disappointed that we didn't get more of the Henry schools to come. It was a missed opportunity for them. We were here to help the colleges identify some players that might not have otherwise gotten a look. It was a one-stop shop."
Along with Henry County; Stockbridge and Union Grove setup a table for the college coaches. Several Clayton schools in addition to schools from Fayette, Rockdale and Coweta counties were in attendance.
The majority of the metro area counties put on this type of recruiting fair all week since coaches will be in town for this weekend's state football championships at the Georgia Dome.
"I made all the rounds, except Gwinnett County," said Virginia State assistant coach Mike Arthur. "This is huge for the Div. II and smaller schools that don't have the big recruiting budgets. For us to have all these coaches in one place was great. They really came prepared with the tapes and transcripts. It was much of a help to them as it was for us."
Rozier said even as the coaches were watching film on a particular player, a player from the opponent's team might have caught their eye.
In nine years at Lovejoy, Al Hughes has helped 92 players receive college scholarships from the large Div. I schools to the junior college ranks. He said some college coaches walked away impressed with a few of his kids.
"I saw about 20 something coaches today, I got some positive feed back," Hughes said. "This really helps the kids that marginal. This really helps count down on the time you have to spend with the recruiting process since a lot of the college coaches are here."
NCAA rules prohibited Div. I bowl championship series schools from attending, but several recruiting services were on hand. Former Riverdale coach George Spencer is a recruiting specialist at LRS Sports, whose clients include Alabama, LSU and Florida and 100 other colleges said an event like this helps certain players from getting overlooked.
"A college coach will get to see more players today than they have seen in about two weeks," Spencer said. "They are able to cover so much more ground. Winning football games is an important job for the high school coach, but getting the players notice by coaches is the second most important."
Three Henry County High players received college offers on Thursday after being reviewed by the college coaches. Linebacker Darrius Stroud had offers from junior college powerhouses Coffeyville Community College and Hutchinson Community College. The Warhawks quarterback Dylan Shaddix and wide receiver Shavarez Smith also had offers from North Carolina Central, Miles, Belhaven and Bethel
"The recruiting process is up and down, and this was a big burst for me," Shaddix said. "This was great to see that my hard work has paid off. I had some college say they wanted me to visit, but no offers until this. I'm going to take my time and look into the schools and see what is best for me."
He was also thankful to Rozier for putting this event together.
"This is let you know that the coaches care about you," Shaddix said. "This let you know that they have your back."