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To the victors go the spoils
Wildcats winning ways paying off in more chances for players to get to next level, play in college
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Richmond Hill High School senior David Katzman (26) is one of several Wildcats drawing interest from college recruiters. So is junior Nick Fitzgerald (7), who could top next year's recruiting class from Richmond HIll. - photo by File

Richmond Hill High School’s improved football fortunes is spelling success in another way as well – as many as a dozen Wildcats could wind up signing to play college football before everything is said and done.

“Our hopes are we sign anywhere from 8-12,” RHHS coach Lyman Guy said. “We have four who have got offers and we’re working hard on about eight more.”

Among those who’ve already got offers in hand are quarterback Dominque Allen, who committed earlier this year to the Air Force Academy, and kicker Canon Rooker, who also committed early and is headed to Middle Tennessee State University.

Defensive lineman Taylor Hayes and offensive lineman Kendall Robinson have also been offered, Guy said. Hayes, a mammoth 6-foot-4, 340-pound defensive tackle, was offered by Alabama State, an FCS school in Montgomery, while Robinson has an offer from Livingstone College, a Division II school in North Carolina.

Also drawing interest are defensive end Zach Stegner, defensive back T.K. Grisby and running back David Katzman, who rushed for 1,220 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2012. Offensive linemen David Sneed and Talib Young, defensive lineman Jonathan Thomas, defensive back Kwanzell Blow and receiver Hank Ferendo are also garnering varying degrees of attention from colleges.

Not all will necessarily sign by Feb. 6, which is national signing day this year. The major schools get first picks, followed by the rest.

“Sometimes Division II and on down won’t really offer until they see what Division I-school kids might have fallen through after signing day, so they won’t offer until later in February or March or sometimes as late as April. It’s a lot of sitting and waiting and a lot of strategy too.”

The Wildcats will host a recruiting fair on Jan. 14. Guy called it a one-stop shop for both prep coaches and college recruiters.

“We’ve notified over 500 colleges and all the area high school coaches are invited to attend,” he said. “It’s basically going to be a place where a high school coach can bring in his players’ data and college coaches can look at copies of transcripts and video of the players and talk to the coaches about the kids. It’s a great tool for small colleges who don’t have big recruiting budgets and the kids who are being looked at by small schools.”

This is the second year for the recruting fair, which Guy said helped speedy wideout Alex Cruz find a college home at Charleston Southern last season.

This year's crop of seniors aren’t the only ones involved the recruiting process at RHHS, either. The Wildcats are preparing to start “pushing out our underclass recruits out to colleges,” Guy said.

“It’s time to start promoting them and get them on the radar,” he said, noting the process involves everything from filling out paperwork and finding out where players want to go to making sure they participate in combines, college camps and in some cases 7-on-7 passing leagues.

One junior already on the radar for college coaches is Nick Fitzgerald, the heir apparent to Allen at quarterback.

Fitzgerald, an athletic 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, was the Wildcats’ top receiver in 2012 with 28 catches for 318 yards and four TDs. He also threw a TD pass while backing up Allen.

“He’s got a lot of Division I interest and he’s certainly got Division I capability,” Guy said, noting some of the schools interested in Fitzgerald are North Carolina State, Duke, Wake Forest, Missouri and “even Oregon has inquired about him a little bit, too.”

“He’s also got some I-AA (FCS) schools interested in him, but I don’t feel like they’ll get a chance,” Guy said. “Georgia has shown some interest and they’re looking at him as an athlete and don’t know if he’d play quarterback or wide receiver. I think he can play quarterback at the next level, though it’s the same with him as it is with any other player on our team. He’s going to have to work hard to get there.”

Richmond Hill is coming off an 8-3 season which included a best-ever 8-2 regular season mark and the program’s first trip to the playoffs since 1996.

The Wildcats lost its three games by a combined seven points and led in all three until the final minute.

Among the teams Richmond Hill fell to in 2012 was Class AAAAA state runner up Ware County. Richmond Hill led until the Gators scored with roughly 40 seconds left to beat the Wildcats 27-24.

Richmond Hill signed five players in 2012 after going 6-4 and just missing the playoffs.

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