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Herrera's dream signing is birthday gift to mother

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Derrick Mahone

dmahone@news-daily.com

At 8:25 a.m. Wednesday, North Clayton linebacker Amarlo Herrera officially became a member of what Georgia coach Mark Richt has dubbed as the "Dream Team" for this year's recruiting class.

Caught in traffic, Herrera arrived 25 minutes late for the school's National Signing Day ceremony in the media center, but once at the school he signed and faxed his scholarship to Georgia. Donning the Georgia colors of red and black, Herrera sat next to his mother, Stacy Dallas, as he signed his official letter-of-intent to the SEC school.

"I'm very proud of Amarlo," Dallas said. "With him, I knew this day was coming, now it is real."

It was definitely a special day for Dallas, who also celebrated her

birthday. She called this "the best present" as Herrera has been given a free education with his athletic scholarship.

"This was the only present that I could afford to give my mother," Herrera said. "I looked at the calendar last year after I committed and was happy it was on her birthday. This was definitely special."

The Clayton News Daily's Southern Crescent Player of the Year was one of only two linebackers that signed with Georgia this year. He finished with 150 tackles each of the last two seasons at North Clayton as a inside linebacker. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder is expected to challenge for playing time this coming season as the Bulldogs try to rebuild from a 6-7 season and loss in the Liberty Bowl to Central Florida.

"I'm glad to have the signing over with," Herrera said. "Now, it is time to get back to work. You got to put in the work if you want to challenge for a starting spot. I want to play right away."

This year's Georgia signing class is rated among the top in the nation, according to all the recruiting services. Herrera has been rated a four-star recruit by the recruiting services and considered one of the top inside linebackers in the country.

"It says a lot when he is only one of two linebackers that the school signed," North Clayton coach Rodney Hackney said. "I'm sure he wants to start, but when he gets up there, he will realize that every kid is big, fast and strong."

Although he had offers from almost every Bowl Championship Series school in the country, Herrera committed to the Bulldogs on February 15, 2010 with very little fanfare. He didn't do the overblown changing of the hats or calling a press conference.

Last February, Herrera and his mother went to Georgia's Junior Day and delivered the message to Richt. He has never wavered in his decision, even after the Bulldogs were going through a rare losing season and talk aroused about Richt being on the coaching hot seat.

"I told him to make sure that is where he wanted to go before making the commitment," Hackney said. "I believe a commitment is just that. There is no turning back. I tell our guys that they don't want to burn any bridges."

Herrera said he spent most of Tuesday night talking to several other players that were committed to Georgia.

Growing up as a Florida Gators fan, Dallas said she is pleased with her eldest child's college choice.

"Georgia is close to home, and I will get to see him play every game," Dallas said. "I'm pleased."