Sometimes we have to be hit with something more times than one to truly understand it. You can hear the voices and the words that it spills and not truly hear.
No, I haven’t started hearing things. I’ve simply started listening to whatever it is in the water in Oconee County that produces the top of the line quarterback play we’ve seen the last few years.
The starting quarterback group from last year could rival that of any one area in the state and maybe the country. Max Johnson was a senior at Oconee County High School. Johnson has already enrolled at LSU where he will play for the defending national champions.
Prince Avenue has Brock Vandagriff, a University of Georgia commit and one of the highest ranks signal callers in the nation.
His backup, Lucian Anderson III, is potentially on his way to playing college football in the near future. Athens Academy’s entrenched starter Palmer Bush has been a part of a lot of winning football. He’s only lost two games as a starting quarterback in the last two seasons.
A 29-touchdown and three interceptions 2019 puts him as one of the most efficient in the state. North Oconee High School’s starter, Bubba Chandler, put on a show last season and has turned himself into a college prospect.
Less than a month ago Chandler wasn’t ranked on any recruiting sites and now he’s near the top in the state at the position.
All of the guys I just named can play that game and they’re winners. All four programs were in the second round of the state playoffs in November.
I’ve taken it for granted how good and how unusual this cluster of talented quarterbacks is. It was a comment made by Chandler as we discussed his commitment to Clemson University last Wednesday that acted as a bit of shock to the system.
“I want to win a natty... I want to be playing Max Johnson or Brock Vandagriff in a college football playoff game in a few years.”
Everyone wants to win. Everyone wants to play for a national championship. Hearing this statement didn’t strike me as false wants. It’s not only possible, but if history tells us anything about Clemson, Georgia and LSU it’s that those teams meeting on the big stage is likely.
The three programs these make up three of the seven different teams that have been in the last two College Football Playoffs. Two quarterbacks facing off on college football’s biggest stage has been done before. Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields faced off last year in the Fiesta Bowl. Both Lawrence and Fields are both from just north of Atlanta. Fields hailing from Marietta and Lawrence just up the road in Cartersville. The model is there for this group of talented Oconee County natives. Quarterback coach Ron Veal feels what we’re seeing in Oconee County could become a trend following the success of Lawrence and Fields.
“What they have done and are doing you can’t put a price tag on that for a kid that’s in Marietta or south Georgia or in Oconee County or up in Dalton watching these guys,” Veal said. “They’re thinking ‘If they can do it, then I’ve got a chance.’ Those guys (Lawrence and Fields) come straight out of Georgia.”
Jeremy Johnson is the sports editor for The Oconee Enterprise. Opinions expressed are those of the writer.