Jamal Camp stood in front of the contingent of people gathered at South Forsyth High School’s arena and made sure not to leave anyone out.
The War Eagles’ standout defensive end rattled off every person he could think of to thank, from his parents, to his coaches, to his teammates. He reminisced about his younger years moving through seven elementary schools and two middle schools.
He was so focused on gratitude to others and to the road he’s taken that he almost forgot his whole reason for speaking in the first place on Wednesday morning -- to announce his decision to sign with Georgia Tech, which he did right after his remarks. He will be joining his brother Jalen, a wide receiver who will be a senior with the Yellow Jackets next season.
“I've waited all my life for this moment,” Camp said. “To be able to witness this day with my brother means the world to me. So many people have played a humongous role that really (don't) get enough credit for what they've done. It's mind-boggling knowing how much people can care about one person. I can't thank everybody enough.”
Camp had been committed to the Yellow Jackets since Aug. 1, but took his first official visit to the campus in the last couple of weeks. Longtime head coach Paul Johnson announced his retirement right before Camp arrived, and Geoff Collins was hired on Dec. 7 to replace him. Upon arrival, there was a different atmosphere around a program in the midst of a transition, with assistant coaches still unsure of their fates under the new regime. But after meeting with Collins, Camp walked away with enough confidence to stick with the Yellow Jackets.
“I definitely had to reaffirm some things,” he said. “It was a different official visit than normal. Me being able to talk to coach Geoff Collins, that sealed the deal for me. He's everything I look (for) in a head coach. He brings energy, enthusiasm, passion... He's (South head coach Jeff) Arnette but just a little bit younger.”
For the actual coach Arnette, Camp has been a key building block for what has been perhaps the best stretch of South football in school history, with two region titles and four consecutive playoff appearances over the last four seasons.
“It's awesome to see the journey he's had the four years that he's been here (and) how much better he got each year,” he said. “I think the greatest attribute he's got is leadership. Kids follow him, he leads by example, he leads vocally.”
Jalen and Jamal grew up together fostering a competitive spirit, one that followed them through high school and now, into college. While Jamal’s decision to play for Tech was his to make, Jalen certainly played a heavy role.
“It wasn't the whole thing, of course, but being able to play with my brother, that was very huge,” Camp said. “I get to at least play with him for one year at the next level. Very few people can say that.”