The Ones Who Got Away
Like a band of marauding barbarians, they come into South Carolina every year and pillage the state of its top high school football players.
Over the past 20 years, many of the nation's top college football programs have come into the Palmetto State and pilfered the best of the best, the bluest of the blue-chip prospects. It's no wonder that Clemson and South Carolina have just one conference championship between them over the last two decades.
The list of players who have left the state to play football is a Who's Who of college and professional football.
This year is no different with the state's top recruit, Byrnes running back Marcus Lattimore, considering North Carolina, Penn State, Oregon and Auburn. He does include the Gamecocks on his list.
The Post and Courier has compiled an all-star team of players who have left their home state to play college football elsewhere since 1989.
Here's a look at The Ones Who Got Away:
You've got to start a team with a quarterback, and few were better than Macedonia's Joe Hamilton. The 1999 Heisman Trophy runner-up, Hamilton finished off his career at Georgia Tech as the ACC's total offense leader.
His two main targets would be a couple of Lowcountry natives in James Island's Roddy White (UAB), a 2008 Pro Bowl pick, and Summerville's A.J. Green (Georgia), a sure-fire future first-round draft pick.
Rock Hill's Ben Watson (Georgia) would open things up over the middle as a speedy tight end.
Hamilton would hand the ball off to perhaps the state's best high school football player at any position in Spartanburg running back Stephen Davis (Auburn), who rushed for more than 8,000 yards during his NFL career. Battery Creek's Greg Jones (Florida State) would be another big-play threat out of the backfield, and when the team needed that big blocking fullback, bring in Porter-Gaud's Ovie Mughelli (Wake Forest). Opening holes for the skill guys would be a mammoth offensive line featuring tackles Alex Barron (FSU) of Orangeburg-Wilkinson and Swansea's Victor Riley (Auburn), a couple of first-round draft picks. Former Summerville star Kevin Young (FSU) would be the center, with Daniel's Kevin Breedlove (Georgia) and Spring Valley's Chad Bates (FSU) finishing out the interior line.
The defense would be anchored by a big and talented defensive line.
Macedonia's Courtney Brown (Penn State), who finished his career as the NCAA's all-time leader in sacks and tackles for loss, would be one defensive end. Pro Bowl defensive tackle and former Hartsville star Albert Haynesworth (Tennessee) and Lower Richland's Richard Seymour (Georgia), along with future first-round pick Carlos Dunlap, a former Fort Dorchester star and current Florida Gators standout, would be a formidable defensive front.
The defensive line would be deep as players like Robert Geathers (Carver's Bay/Georgia) Shaun Ellis (Westside/Tennessee), Norman Hand (Walterboro/Mississippi State) and Darwin Walker (Walterboro/Tennessee), all veterans of the NFL, couldn't crack the starting lineup.
Wilson High School's Lawrence Timmons (Florida State) would lead a fast and athletic linebacking corps. Timmons was a starter on Pittsburgh's Super Bowl team this past season. Timberland's Tracy White (Howard) and Hanahan's Marcus Howard (Georgia) would join Timmons at linebacker.
The secondary would be led by Silver Bluff's Corey Chavous (Vanderbilt), an 11-year veteran of the NFL. Rock Hill's Chris Hope (FSU) would join him at safety with Macedonia's Pierson Prioleau (Virginia Tech) and Northwestern's Jeff Burris (Notre Dame) finishing out the secondary.
A team any college coach would envy, especially one from outside our state lines.
INSTATE PLAYERS WHO LEFT THE PALMETTO STATE
Pos. — Player — High School — College — Comment
QB Joe Hamilton Macedonia HS Georgia Tech 1999 Heisman Trophy runner-up; finished as ACC all-time total offense leader
RB Stephen Davis Spartanburg HS Auburn Rushed for 8,052 yards and 65 TDs in NFL career
RB Greg Jones Battery Creek HS Florida State Finished with 2,535 rushing yards at FSU
WR Roddy White James Island HS Alabama-Birmingham NFL Pro Bowl selection in 2008
WR A.J. Green Summerville HS Georgia SEC Freshman of the Year in 2008
TE Ben Watson Rock Hill HS Georgia Won a Super Bowl title with New England
OL Alex Barron Orangeburg-Wilkinson Florida State 1st round draft pick in 2005 by St. Louis
OL Kevin Breedlove Daniel HS Georgia Played one season for the San Diego Chargers
OL Kevin Long Summerville HS Florida State Played five seasons in the NFL
OL Chad Bates Spring Valley HS Florida State Played three seasons in NFL Europe
OL Victor Riley Swansea HS Auburn Started 93 games over 8-year NFL career
Pos. — Player — High School — College — Comment
DL Courtney Brown Macedonia HS Penn State First pick 1999 NFL draft, finished as Big Ten all-time sack leader
DL Albert Haynesworth Hartsville HS Tennessee Two-time NFL Pro Bowl pick with Tennessee Titans
DL Richard Seymour Lower Richland HS Georgia 5-time Pro Bowl pick with New England Patriots
DL Carlos Dunlap Fort Dorchester HS Florida MVP of last year's national championship game
LB Lawrence Timmons Wilson HS Florida State Starting LB for Super Bowl champ Pittsburgh Steelers
LB Marcus Howard Hanahan HS Georgia First-Team All-SEC, 2008 Sugar Bowl MVP
LB Tracy White Timberland HS Howard Entering sixth year in NFL
DB Jeff Burris Northwestern HS Notre Dame Played in 144 NFL games from 1994-2003
DB Corey Chavous Silver Bluff HS Vanderbilt Played 11 seasons in NFL
DB Pierson Prioleau Macedonia HS Virginia Tech Entering his 11th season in NFL
DB Chris Hope Rock Hill HS Florida State 2008 Pro Bowl pick; won Super Bowl with Pittsburgh Steelers