The long awaited spring football practices begin today with new head football coach Rich McWhorter. It’s an exciting time to be involved with Panther football, with a plethora of young talent, and a coach who has proven time and again that he can develop players.
With that being said, I put my research skills to the test and decided to learn a little about the former talent that Coach Rich has developed in his coaching time. I’ll tell you now, it’s a pretty good looking list.
Champ Bailey, Defensive Back
Champ Bailey is a man who needs no introduction, he’s a University of Georgia legend. It was once said that “2/3 of the earth is covered by water, the rest is covered by Champ Bailey”. As a high school football player, he tore every opponents defense to absolute shreds on the offensive side, and was a lockdown corner on the other. As a running back, he ran for 3,573 yards, averaging 7.0 yards a carry. He also racked up 58 touchdowns during his time, as well as 8 career interceptions on the defensive side. It’s low quality, but here are some highlights of Champ in high school. He wasn’t too bad in college or the pro’s either, winning Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos. Champ only defeated the University of Florida Gators once in his career, going 1-3 agree against the Gators.
Rodney “Boss” Bailey, Linebacker
His name might sound familiar, and it should, because he was here a few years ago with Benji Harrison. Boss Bailey, brother of Champ is also a product of Coach McWhorter’s coaching. He played later in the 90’s, and also attended the University of Georgia as well. He played at Georgia from 1999-2002, and was a second round pick in 2003 to the Detroit Lions. He played 6 years in the pro’s before retiring. In his 6 years in the League he registered over 300 tackles with 2 interceptions. In his time at UGA, Boss never defeated the Florida Gators, going 0-4 against the Gators.
Christopher Milton, Defensive Back
Christopher Milton is actually still playing in the NFL. Coming out of high school, Milton was a 3 star athlete who was listed to colleges as an athlete who can do it all. He committed to Georgia Tech in 2012 and spent 4 years as a Yellow Jacket. He started as a running back, but then changed over to a DB in his sophomore year, which is a move that helped his career. In his college career he accounted for 96 tackles, 5 interceptions, and 2 touchdowns. He went undrafted in 2016, but was picked up by the Colts, got waived, was re-signed to the practice squad, and is now on the 53 man active roster. Here he is taking a interception all the way back in 2014. He never played Florida, but he helped the Jackets upset Florida State in 2015.
These are 3 of the names that have been brought through the Rich McWhorter development tree. I’m not saying that we’re the home of a future first rounder in the NFL Draft, but I’m not saying we aren’t. Things are on a serious rise in the football program. Spring Practice starts today, with a scrimmage against Winder- Barrow on May 16th.
So that raises the question- what are we gonna see from our new man? It couldn’t be more of a polar opposite than what used to be. I watched the first quarter of Lanier County vs. Charlton County from this past season, and there was a lot of offense, Charlton won 47-14. There was a lot of shotgun sets, with a pretty fair majority of plays designed to spread the defense out and let the skill guys work. This is a very common offensive style to use, as skill players come way more often as they used to. The only disadvantage of using this style, is that almost everyone is a skill player. Defensive lineman aren’t 300 lbs. anymore, you can’t grind them down to make them tired by the 4th quarter anymore, everyone is a skilled athlete nowadays.
We have many skill players that can play some football. We have fast, we have quick, we have athletic. Oh, and we have strength too. Tyler Vaughn and Andrew King both hit 510 on squat today. So there’s that.
It’s an exciting time to be involved in Panther Athletics. Here’s hoping we can reap what we sow in the coming years- and eventually that can lead to more bigly winning.