By Brian Paglia
Waymon Storey's family wanted him to one day attend the University of Georgia, and football was going to be the ticket in. They knew it, and so they instilled it in Storey from the very beginning.
Football didn't work out, but track did. Well enough, in fact, that Storey made those family dreams come true. The emerging sprinter signed a letter of intent Wednesday with Georgia.
"My dad instilled Georgia in me from when I was little," Storey said, "so when they offered me, nobody else could really compete."
It served Georgia well that it called Storey on the first day of his senior recruiting season.
"Georgia was the first school that actually called me the first day we could talk to coaches," Storey said. "My senior year they were the first one to call. That made a big impression on me. So when I went there on a visit, I fell in love with the school.
Wednesday marked another step in the remarkable transformation of Storey from a recluse into the team leader and budding star his recent history suggests he could be.
A transfer from Henry County his sophomore year, Storey took to track immediately. But he didn't take to his new school as quickly.
"I was a little loner," Storey said. "I didn't really know anybody. My first year was rough. I had a bad attitude. Talked bad to people."
"He wasn't always a great kid, per say, at first," Morrow track and field coach Travis Hinton said. "He had his issues at first."
So Storey quickly became Hinton's project.
"When kids are going off of the path, that kind of draws me to them just to see if I can get them to go on the straight and narrow," Hinton said. "He totally became receptive to some of the things I was saying in terms of being successful in life."
With the new outlook, Storey's times began to drop. Storey's time in the 100-meter dropped nearly 0.6 seconds from 11.30 seconds to 10.70 seconds. Suddenly, Storey became a force to be reckoned with.
Soon he swept the 100 and 200 at the Clayton County Championships. Soon he did the same at the Region 4-AAAAA Championships.
At the state meet, Storey rose from virtual anonymity -- the only Morrow boys athlete, in fact, that qualified -- with a third-place finish in the 200 and runner-up finish in the 100.
"Aside from his build, which is exquisite, he has all the things that a coach looks for in a great athlete," Hinton said. "He has the size, he has the length. Once we started working with him, it all just starting coming together. It was one of the most beautiful metamorphoses I can ever imagine."
Storey himself acknowledges much of his growth as a sprinter, and a person, is due to Hinton and his staff.
"They really are the most influential guys that I've ever been around," Storey said. "When I came in 10th grade, they took me in. The coaches instilled upon me having respect for everybody else, and without them I doubt I'd be where I am now."
Where he is now is on the cusp of breaking through as Georgia's top sprinter, and it's not a challenge Storey shies away from.
"I want to be state champion in the 100 and 100," Storey said. "I would love to break the 200 state record. The first one to run under 21 seconds."