No aspiring football player ever dreams of leaving high school to go play in small Southern towns like Chatham, Moorhead or Milledgeville.
But there were six area players who navigated that route to major college football this year. That's almost half of the 16 area players who had either signed up or enrolled with NCAA Division I-A schools through Wednesday.
There are another 12 area players who signed up with junior colleges Wednesday. Most did so hoping they will put on the cap of a much more impressive team two years from now.
The examples set by two local products illustrate that journey. Lincoln County's Jarius Wynn and Laney's Corvey Irvin graduated in 2005.
Wynn and Irvin turned two seasons at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville into football scholarships to the University of Georgia. Josey's Dannie Daggett is one of eight area seniors who hope that a similar two-year plan will pay the same dividend.
"Thank goodness there's a place like a Georgia Military for all of these kids who may or may not have the grades out of high school," Washington County coach Joel Ingram said. "These players should be thankful there's a back-up plan for them to get their grades right."
Wynn knows the journey is what he needed.
"Everybody can play football where I come from," Wynn said. "But you have to have grades and the test scores coming out of high school if you want to keep on playing no matter how well you play."
Daggett sounds like he's reading off the same script. Just one that's a few scenes behind.
"I didn't do the right things with my grades during my freshman and sophomore year," he said. "I've just got to wait my time."
The talent level in the junior college ranks doesn't get the appreciation it should. Everyone on a junior college roster can play.
"Everyone on that roster is there because of football," Aiken coach Carey Johnson said.
Johnson has long been an advocate of the college game. He thinks some of the top players in the nation under the age of 20 play junior college football.
Georgia Military coach Bert Williams knows all about that. Thomson's Jasper Brinkley went from GMC to the All-Southeastern Conference team in one season.
"People don't realize the level of talent and ability that is played in junior college ball," he said. "If they did we would have to put more seats in our stadium. People come to our games and tell me they have no idea we were this good. It's kind of like a well-kept secret that's somehow stays hidden even though it is right in front of everybody."