In the office of Lambert football coach Sid Maxwell is a board that holds the business card of every college football coach who has visited over the course of a year. At the end of the year, the cards come down to let the board be refilled during the next recruiting cycle.
This past year, Maxwell estimates he had over 90 cards on the board. Six cards are already up this year.
"I have a lot more college coaches coming by here than I did at Sequoyah," said Maxwell, who was head coach at the Canton school from 1994-2008.
Maxwell takes the heavy traffic from college coaches as a sign that Forsyth County’s high school recruiting profile is going up.
Indeed, Forsyth had 43 players on college football rosters last season, and that number will go up after today when as many as 17 seniors will be sign scholarships as part of National Signing Day.
Forsyth’s most prominent signee left is West Forsyth center Andrew Marshall who verbally committed to Georgia Tech this past September. Lambert tight end Chris Laye enrolled early at Auburn after committing to the Tigers last April and signing in November.
The numbers break down this way:
• North Forsyth expects Clay Barton (Army), Payton Holbrooks (Reinhardt), Jerret Paige (Berry College), Josh Petz (Kennesaw State) and Harris Roberts (Furman) to sign.
• South Forsyth expects Brett Larkin (Tusculum), Sam Walker (Army), Kyle Watford (Air Force), Isaiah Williams (Army) and Davis Winkie (Vanderbilt) to sign.
• Lambert could have Jordyn Jean-Felix (Campbell), Zach Matthews (Georgetown), Brandon Miller (Marist) and Kevo Yeremian (four offers) to sign.
• West expects Marshall, Josh Davis (Air Force) and as many as three others to sign.
• Pinecrest Academy punter Chris Birozes is expected to sign among a handful of offers, while Forsyth Central does not have any players scheduled to sign today, according to athletic director Mike Woodard.
Forsyth’s numbers still pale in comparison to other metro Atlanta counties. Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties could each have at least 100 high school seniors sign, many among the top prospects in the country in the Class of 2014. Clayton, Henry and Fayette counties have routinely produced high-profile recruits.
But a confluence of factors has Forsyth’s reputation rising in the eyes of college recruiters. Forsyth’s growth has produced several schools playing in the state’s highest classification where the competition and talent is regarded as the best. As county teams have had more success – three schools made the state playoffs last season, and at least one Forsyth school has made the playoffs since 2009 – college coaches have noticed.
"When coaches know you’re competition then the more [recruiting] opportunities you’re going to get," Maxwell said. "They figure you’ve got to have some talent to get there."
Forsyth has started to produce more high-profile prospects in recent years, which gives other players more exposure to more prominent college programs. Auburn has already been back to Lambert to check in on Longhorns junior cornerback Jeremy Johnson, one of the area’s top recruits in the Class of 2015.
"When you got some guys who have some talent and size," Maxwell said, "it’s going to allow other people to be looked at also. That definitely doesn’t hurt."