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MAHONE: All-star games meant to showcase talent

Derrick Mahone

Derrick Mahone

There was a time when the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star game was the premier postseason game in the state. Some might argue that it was perhaps the most prestigious in the South.

Back in the day, it was played in July and alternated between the campuses of Georgia and Georgia Tech. Players would spend a week on campus prepping for the game.

It was a matter of pride as the selected players would represent their territory — North or South Georgia.

After almost seeing the game fizzle out, officials decided to move it two late December with a home in Columbus. It’s still a big honor to be selected to play in the North-South All-Star Classic, but the emergence of some national games has somewhat overshadowed the traditional Georgia classic.

The limelight of playing in an NFL stadium with a national television audience has players clamoring for one of the big name postseason all-star games. For many, it is a chance for them to make a big play one minute, and then look into a television camera the next to announce their college choice.

Gone somewhat is the pride of representing your high school or regional territory, but it has become more of “it’s all about me.”

College recruiting is known as the lifeblood of a program. Sign better players, and you have a chance to play for a national championship.

Grown men befriend high school football players on social media networks to get daily updates on their recruiting. Some ambitious folks make a living by constantly tweeting, texting and calling high school stars to see what their next move will be.

The expansion of high school all-star games is not a totally negative concept. With more all-star games, it provides more opportunities for players to get recognized.

The upcoming Georgia Junior Bowl at Atlanta’s Grady Stadium will give fans and coaches a glimpse of the top underclassmen coming into next year. It also provides an opportunity for players to develop a bond with other top-rated players throughout the state.

Several metro area counties — including Clayton County — have developed their own all-star games. Clayton County had its North-South game on Thursday at Tara Stadium. While some of the more notable players were absent, this game provided some players with their last opportunity to play a high school football game.

Who knows; they might have come away with a highlight film that could attract a college recruiter.

From now until mid-January, the high school all-star game season is in full swing. There will be games as far as Texas and a couple at the Georgia Dome. The Southern Crescent will be well-represented in these contests.

As the profile of football in Clayton and Henry counties grows, so does the opportunity for players to get invites to these games.

And opportunity is always a good thing.

Derrick Mahone is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com.