The housing market is down. The economy is down. Interest rates are going down.
Augusta's stock of football talent is suffering the same fate.
It's a light year for the area's crop of college football talent set to be harvested on national signing day next week. The Augusta area, which has averaged 12 Division I-A signees a year since 2003, is expected to produce only five this time around.
That said, there will be some area jewels shining brightly this Wednesday as prep recruits are allowed to sign binding letters-of-intent with the college of their choice. The Augusta area may lack depth, but its top recruits stand tall among the finest of the nation.
Jefferson County's A.J. Harmon and Burke County's Cornelius Washington were rated among the top 100 recruits in the nation by the services. They had their choice of schools.
Westside's Sanders Commings was an undervalued commodity who still could have named his school in the Southeast.
Strom Thurmond's Aramis Hillary will be the area's first quarterback recruit to go to a school in the Southeastern Conference in at least 25 years when he heads to South Carolina.
Here's a look at what the top recruits in the area are thinking 72 hours before national signing day Wednesday.
PLAYER High School Position Ht. Wt. Comment College choice
1. A.J. Harmon Jefferson County DL/OL 6-6 325 His waffling is over. He's a solid commitment. Georgia
2. Sanders Commings Westside DB 6-1 195 He's the area's most likely to succeed at the next level Georgia
3. Aramis Hillary Strom Thurmond QB 6-2 215 Steve Spurrier's first African-American quarterback recruit South Carolina
4. Cornelius Washington Burke County DE 6-4 230 Splendid athlete may need a few years to blossom Georgia
5. Jakar Hamilton Strom Thurmond ATH 6-0 180 Fantastic athlete wasn't eligible this fall Georgia Military
6. Joseph Carter Silver Bluff TE 6-4 235 Silver Bluff coach Al Lown says he's an ACC player Georgia Military
7. Marcus Thurmond North Augusta WR 6-0 175 Elite speed plus a worker in the weight room Middle Tennessee State
8. Lennel Elmore Allendale-Fairfax RB/WR 6-0 160 Will choose between Appalachian State and South Carolina State Undecided
9. Derrick Shuemake Swainsboro DT 6-3 290 Racked up an amazing 19 sacks this year Georgia Military
10. Ronnell Ferguson Lincoln County DL 6-3 235 Three-year starter for the Red Devils South Carolina State
11. Jamal Davis South Aiken LB 6-4 195 Superior athleticism; had 182 tackles and 48 catches this year Undecided
12. Justin Conaway Ridge Spring-Monetta DL/LB 6-6 225 Michigan State was also interested Newberry College
13. Tommy Seals Warren County ATH 5-11 180 Louisburg (NC) College and GMC are interested Undecided
14. Alan Neblett Allendale-Fairfax FS 6-3 195 JUCO power saw him at the North-South game Hutchinson JC
15. Trey Henderson Evans CB 5-11 180 Great ball skills led to six interceptions this year Coastal Carolina
16. Antonio Danzy Washington County TE 6-3 245 Impressed with his blocking ability and frame Georgia Military
17. Nick Richards Greenbrier QB 6-4 205 Was visiting Valdosta State this weekend Undecided
18. Kevin Millward Evans P 6-0 235 Offers hard to come by for one of the top punters in the Southeast Undecided
19. Theodore McNeal Laney DL/OL 6-1 260 All-Area first teamer with great grades still on the market Undecided
20. Dave Dixon North Augusta WR 6-0 160 May wind up with Pikeville College (NAIA) in Kentucky Undecided