Originally created 05/29/99

Tests help Gamecock recruit, hurt Bulldogs



South Carolina's Mr. Football received news of good fortune Friday. Georgia's Mr. Football wasn't so lucky.

Derek Watson, the most decorated signee of Gamecock coach Lou Holtz's 1999 recruiting class, notched a qualifying score on his SAT, a member of his family said.

Reggie Brown, the crown jewel of the University of Georgia's recent recruiting haul said he received a failing grade of 68 in English and will have to retake the course in summer school to graduate. As a result, the Carrollton, Ga., native likely won't wear a Bulldogs uniform this fall.

Watson, previously thought to have been only a partial qualifier, earned better than the required score of 820.

"We just heard this morning," said Tommy Davis, Watson's head coach at Palmetto High School in Williamston, S.C. "We're thrilled."

Watson, who set a state career rushing record with 6,766 yards and 88 touchdowns, was out of town Friday and could not be reached for comment.

Brown, a Parade Magazine All-American, said he was shocked to have come two points shy of graduating. Carrollton's commencement was Friday.

"I just heard a few hours ago," Brown said from his home Friday. "There's really nothing I can do right now."

Brown's options appear limited. If he enrolls in summer school and passes the course, he could become eligible in January -- in much the same fashion of Terrence Edwards, the former Washington County star who sat out the 1998 season and enrolled at Georgia in January.

In explaining its core course requirements, the NCAA states that "courses taken after the completion of your eighth semester (i.e., summer school after your senior year) may not be used to satisfy core-course requirements."

"I guess I'm going to have to go to junior college," said Brown, who led Carrollton to the Class AA state title in 1998.

Brown's other option is prep school, a well-traveled path among several Bulldogs the past few years.

Georgia coach Jim Donnan declined to comment Friday.

Watson plans to move to Columbia to attend summer school, Davis said.

It was feared that Watson wouldn't qualify for the fall, but the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder recently earned the required grade point average of 2.5.

Davis said Watson dedicated himself to his studies after basketball season ended in March. Watson's senior year was the first of his high school career in which he didn't participate on the track squad.

"He spent a long time involved with three sports," Davis said. "This was the first year he didn't play three sports, and he did that to concentrate on his school work.

"He knew he had to get on the stick. Going to prep school was not something he wanted to do. He's a pretty smart young man."

Watson ran for 2,573 yards and 44 touchdowns in 1998, then he closed his prep career by amassing a record 275 yards in the Shrine Bowl.

Watson picked South Carolina over Tennessee.

Brown was a large reason the Bulldogs' 1999 recruiting class was considered one of the best in the country. He chose Georgia over Ohio State.

Larry Williams can be reached at (706)-823-3645 or larrywill7@yahoo.com.