The college football calendar has reached its bowl season with many local athletes finding themselves valuable contributors to their programs.
The University of Georgia has had a stellar campaign with 12 victories and a Southeastern Conference championship. The Bulldogs were selected to participate in the College Football Playoff at the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual and faced Oklahoma on Jan. 1. Leading Georgia’s offensive line was Pace Academy alumnus Andrew Thomas, who started all 13 regular-season games for the Bulldogs at right tackle. He was recently named to the Freshman All-SEC Team.
Thomas isn’t alone. His fellow Pace alum Trey Blount saw in 12 contests including a start in the SEC Championship Game against Auburn. Woodward Academy alum Elijah Holyfield had two rushing touchdowns for Georgia. Marist alum Kendall Baker has played every game this season and earned 12 starts at left guard. Fellow War Eagles’ alumnus Bill Rubright is on the roster as a kicker.
Tucker alum Dominick Sanders had a team-high four interceptions along with 32 tackles for Georgia at strong safety. Fellow former Tiger Jonathan Ledbetter posted 29 tackles at defensive end. Davin Bellamy, an alumnus of Chamblee, had 29 tackles at outside linebacker this season. Lakeside alum Daniel Harper is also on the roster at outside linebacker.
Cedar Grove alumnus and offensive lineman Justin Shaffer appeared in eight regular season games this season. Dunwoody alumnus Daniel Gothard and Cedar Grove alum Netori Johnson are on Georgia’s roster as offensive linemen.
Luella alum and defensive back Aaron Davis has 40 tackles, the fourth-most on the team for Georgia, and an interception in the regular season.
New Manchester alum Brian Herrien has seen action in all 13 contests and had a touchdown. Landmark Christian alum and Douglasville native Lofton Tidwell is also on the roster at running back for the Bulldogs.
East Paulding alumnus Carson Hall is on the roster as an offensive lineman. Josh Moran, an alumnus of Milton at wide receiver, and defensive back Jake Skole, an alum of Blessed Trinity are also members of the Bulldogs’ squad.
Georgia State enjoyed its successful season in program history in 2017 with seven victories and a 27-17 win over Western Kentucky in the AutoNation Cure Bowl on Dec. 16. Riverwood alumnus Khai Anderson was a major contributor for the Panthers at cornerback, playing in every game while posting eight tackles and a fumble recovery.
Wide receiver Penny Hart, an alumnus of King’s Ridge led the team with 1,121 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in an All-Sun Belt first team campaign. Fellow Tigers’ alumnus Remy Lazarus is a safety on the team. Roswell alum Shavi Bash is a kicker for the Panthers while Mount Pisgah Christian alumnus Aaron Winchester saw action in six games at quarterback.
East Paulding alumnus Kyler Neal saw action in 11 games at running back for Georgia State and had five touchdowns including one in the Cure Bowl. Decatur native Mackendy Cheridor had three sacks for the Panthers.
Stephenson had three alums on Georgia State in safety Ronald Peterkin, defensive end Malik Ricks and tight end Ari Werts. Tucker alumnus Jamal Paxton is a center, Arabia Mountain alum Mahze McQueen at wide receiver and Southwest DeKalb alumnus Jaylen Fareed at offensive guard are also on the Panthers’ roster.
Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (ELCA) alum Ben Hood was on Georgia State along with Luella alumni Darius Stubbs (running back) and Terry Thomas (defensive line).
Western Kentucky’s roster included Cedar Grove alumnus DeAngelo Malone at defensive lineman.
Alabama faced Clemson in the College Football Playoff at the Allstate Sugar Bowl contest on Jan. 1.
For the Crimson Tide, defensive back Xavier McKinney, an alumnus of Roswell was on the roster and played in 11 contests. Fellowship Christian alum Hunter Bryant at tight end and Blessed Trinity alum Scott Meyer, who played in 12 games, at long snapper were also on Alabama.
On Clemson, Roswell alumnus Tre Lamar is a linebacker and posted 52 tackles and four sacks in the regular season. Fellow Hornets’ alum LeAnthony Williams is a cornerback on the roster. Decatur resident Shadell Bell is a tight end for the Tigers and appeared in nine games. ELCA alum Chandler Reeves is an offensive lineman and appeared in four games.
North Carolina A&T faced Grambling in the Celebration Bowl on Dec. 16. SW DeKalb alumnus Joshua Patrick is on the Aggies as a linebacker. Grambling’s roster included Tucker resident Malik Route at wide receiver, Miller Grove alum Raylon Richardson at wide receiver, Roswell alum Justin Victorian at defensive back and Stephenson alum Cameron Richardson at defensive lineman.
Troy also had a contest on Dec. 16 in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. South Paulding alumnus and running back Josh Anderson along with defensive tackle and SW DeKalb alum Baron Poole were on the roster.
Middle Tennessee State participated in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl that same day. Kyle Banks, an alumnus of North Paulding, was on the Blue Raiders’ roster at quarterback along with wide receiver Tavonn Salter, an alum of Stephenson.
Florida Atlantic faced Akron in the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 19. Milton alum Chase Hooper was a defensive lineman on the Owls’ roster.
UAB faced Ohio in the Bahamas Bowl on Dec. 22. Chattahoochee alumnus Collin Lisa was a wide receiver and Alpharetta alum D’Von Isaac at defensive lineman were on the Blazers’ roster.
Army faced San Diego State in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 23. Marist alumnus Kenneth Brinson has played in every game for the Black Knights at linebacker, amassing 33 tackles and two interceptions. Lakeside alumnus Kell Walker was also on the roster as a running back.
The Dollar General Bowl on Dec. 23 featured Appalachian State. Alexander alumnus Daetrich Harrington was on the Mountaineers’ roster as a running back. Defensive back Shaun Jolly is a Stephenson alum.
Duke faced Northern Illinois in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26 with South Paulding alum Michael Carter on the roster at safety.
The University of Virginia was in the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman on Dec. 28. Wesleyan alumnus Jordan Mack has been impactful at the linebacker position, starting every game this season and amassing 105 tackles which is third on the team. He has also posted three sacks.
The Cavaliers’ opponent in the game was Navy, which has Lithonia alum Khaylan Williams on the roster at cornerback and Stockbridge resident Michael Raiford at offensive tackle.
Stanford faced TCU in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28. Milton alum Nick Wilson at offensive guard is on the roster.
Wake Forest was in the Belk Bowl against Texas A&M on Dec. 29. Stephenson alum Cameron Glenn is a defensive back for the Demon Deacons along with Milton alumni Troy Simon (defensive back) and Tyler Watson (offensive lineman) in addition to Centennial alum Chris Calhoun at defensive line.
The Hyundai Sun Bowl featured North Carolina State which had Arabia Mountain alum Jakobi Meyers on the roster as a wide receiver and North Paulding alum Dylan Autenrieth at tight end. Stephenson alum Tyler Jones is an offensive tackle for the Wolfpack.
The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl pit Northwestern against the University of Kentucky on Dec. 29. Yusef Corker, an alumnus of Woodland is on the Kentucky roster.
Louisville faced Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Dec. 30. The Cardinals’ roster includes Roswell alum Corey Reed (wide receiver), Hiram alum Jon Greenard (linebacker) and Tucker alumnus Tabarius Peterson (linebacker).
For the Bulldogs, Stephenson alumni and defensive linemen Montez Sweat and Chauncey Rivers were on the roster.
South Carolina met Michigan in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1. Cedar Grove alumnus Bryson Allen-Williams (linebacker), Milton alum Cory Helms (offensive lineman), Tucker alumnus Aaron Sterling (defensive lineman), Stephenson alum D.J. Wonnum (defensive lineman) and Roswell alumnus Matthew Smith are on the Gamecocks’ roster.
Auburn faced the University of Central Florida in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day. The Tigers’ defense has been led by defensive back and St. Pius X alumnus Nick Ruffin who has played in every game, posted 26 tackles and a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown. Marist alum Griffin King is a wide receiver for Auburn and has played in 12 games.
For UCF, Stockbridge alum Titus Davis and Blessed Trinity alum Pat Jasinski were on the roster as linebackers.