Lincoln County coach Larry Campbell is the winningest active high school coach in Georgia. He has sent a number of Red Devils on to the college game, including Barney Bussey and Garrison Hearst, who made it to the NFL. Campbell shared his thoughts on recruiting with staff writer Tim Morse.
We've been fortunate around here during the high school football recruiting season. Pretty much every kid who we've coached who has had the ability to play college football has been able to get in school somehow.
However, one thing that is so important for kids is for them to do their part academically, because that can be one of the biggest disappointments for kids when they don't meet requirements to go to school.
Players can't wait until their senior year to start working on getting their grades and their SAT scores in order to go to college.
Recruiting is not as ugly as some people make it out to be. We've had some classy families as well as some classy kids. Sometimes what people fail to realize is the high school coaches sometimes know more about that particular player's ability than that college coach or recruiter does.
I'll never forget we had a player by the name of Barney Bussey and we had another player at the time that several Division I coaches were looking at. We were desperately trying to get Barney a scholarship. But Georgia and South Carolina were looking at the other guy and South Carolina ended up losing out.
I remember pleading and begging trying to get South Carolina to sign Barney but the South Carolina recruiter told me that he just couldn't because of Barney's size.
Barney went on to South Carolina State and then ended up playing 11 years with the Cincinnati Bengals. I couldn't understand that.
I also remember Tim Patridge who was highly recruited. We opened the 1975 season against Washington-Wilkes and Georgia coach Vince Dooley and Pepper Rogers, who was at Georgia Tech at the time, were both at the game.
Tim tore his knee up in that game and I remember at the hospital with Tim's dad and the doctor saying that Tim may never play football again. That was a very tough moment. He went on and played some football at Furman but that knee continued to bother him.
In the recruiting process, you meet a lot of good guys and a lot of bad guys. But fortunately, I've met a lot more good guys in the recruiting process than bad guys. All I want is from those guys is honesty and not drag this stuff out.
But it's so important now for kids to do their part in the recruiting process. Even to go to a junior college you have to take certain core classes. About the only option for a kid who basically does nothing (academically) is to go to a school kind of like Hargraves Military School in Virginia, which is basically like another year of high school.