The last week of August marks the beginning of the 2013 college football season and there are several student athletes who graduated from Bradwell Institute and Liberty County High on the gridiron.
North Carolina State
At Liberty County High School Shadrach Thornton posted 4,345 career rushing yards before committing to the Wolfpack on national signing day in February 2012. As a true freshman last year he didn’t waste time making an immediate impact at N.C. State where the 6-foot 1 inch, 203 pound running back led the Wolfpack in rushing with 694 yards.
Thornton didn’t play the first three games of the season and made his collegiate debut rushing for 145 yards on 21 carries and scoring two touchdowns against the Citadel on Sept. 22. Thornton played in 10 games with four starts and finished the year ranked fourth in the ACC in rushing. He rushed for more than 100 yards in four games, with three of the 100-plus games happening back-to-back; the first time a Wolfpack hit that mark since 2002. Thornton also made 30 receptions for 274 yards and a touchdown and averaged 98.7 all purpose yards per game.
In May, AthlonSports.com football editor Steven Lassan picked Thornton among his top-20 running backs in the ACC for the 2013 season.
At Georgia State University there are two former Bradwell players and one from Liberty High who have seen action on the gridiron and are coming back for 2013.
Incoming senior and former BI Tiger Ulrick John has proved just how versatile he is playing in several positions along the offensive line until earning the starting spot as the left tackle last year as a junior.
John earned playing time as a true freshman where he worked at left tackle behind Clyde Yandell, and played in four games off the bench during the inaugural season.
Returning as a sophomore, John started at three different positions in the first five games of the year. John entered the season as the backup left tackle and started the season opener at left tackle in place of injured Yandell. Just two games later, after Georgia State’s top two centers were injured, he started at center against Houston. Against Murray State, he started at left guard while Joseph Gilbert served a one-game suspension. That season John played in 10 games, starting four.
Last year, the junior was tapped as the Panthers’ starting left tackle. He played in all 11 games and started 10, giving his starting spot away to a senior on Panther senior night.
According to Georgia State’s sports writer Michael Klein, John’s impressive showing and leadership skills could earn him a spot on an NFL roster.
John’s former high school teammate David Miller is entering his junior year as the Panthers’ place kicker and punter. Miller earned a letter in 2012 as the holder on field goals and extra points and had one kickoff against Villanova. In his freshman year, Miller played in four games as the backup holder and had one kickoff against West Alabama.
Miller is accomplished off the field and was named to the President’s List, signifying a 4.0 gpa, for the spring 2012 semester. He made the dean’s list for the fall of 2011 and fall 2012. He was also named to the 2012-13 all-academic team and named to the Colonial Athletic Association’s academic all-conference team.
Former Liberty High School defensive end Melvin King will be entering his sophomore season. The 6-foot 3-inch, 220-pound King got immediate playing time last season as a freshman.
He played in nine games and made nine tackles. He had two tackles and one sack against New Hampshire, shared a sack against Old Dominion and had two tackles against Richmond.
The coaching staff at GSU describes King as having excellent speed and athletic ability.
Former BI tiger turned SSU Tiger Sheldon Barnes had a bit of a breakout season last year for Savannah State University. The 5-foot 11-inch, incoming senior had 101 carries for 362 yards and a touchdown in 11 games played. He also had five receptions for 11 yards and a touchdown and returned a kick for 25 yards. Barnes had two tackles defensively.
Former Liberty County Panther Roderick Jones has been doing well at Shorter University where he started playing as a freshman in 2010. That season the strong back rushed for 240 yards on 16 carries and caught two passes for 47 yards. He finished his freshman year with four touchdowns and played in nine games.
His sophomore year, Jones played in 10 games and had 34 carries for 400 yards and two touchdowns for the Hawks.
Last season as a junior, Jones became a father and still managed to tackle college courses and football, playing in 10 games with 31 carries for 252 yards and a touchdown. He had 2 receptions for 13 yards. He also returned 4 kicks for 37 yards.
Jones will be returning as a senior Hawk this year.
Devin Helvie, also from Liberty County High School, will be entering his sophomore season at Shorter. Helvie played in nine games last year with 7 carries for 39 yards. He had one tackle defensively.
Former Bradwell Tiger Chester Brown was a red-shirt freshman at UCF where he was still named Defensive Scout Team Player of the Week for the Tulsa game as well as the C-USA Championship Game, also at Tulsa. Brown, 6 foot 5 inches and 312 pounds, was highly recruited by the University of Georgia in his senior year of high school.
The son of Samoan immigrants, Brown made huge leaps in the sport, playing only since the ninth grade. Brown gave a verbal commitment to UGA, which he later had to retract after learning that a new Board of Regents policy on undocumented students would keep him from attending UGA.