Recruiting is important. "You gotta have the horses," a coach once told me, "before you can pull the wagon." Coaches talk like that. Translated, it means if he doesn't get off his tail and sign some talent, he'll be selling ties at Kmart the next time toe meets leather.
What I hear is that Tennessee is making a big move into Georgia in search of recruits to rebuild the once-mighty Volunteers program. You don't sign to go to Knoxville. You are sentenced there. Clemson is also usually heavy into seeking Georgia material. A Clemson raid makes Georgia Tech people especially mad.
"You know that tractorcade this weekend?" one asked me.
"They weren't farmers," he said. "They were Clemson fans on their way to Sears to buy clothes for the Gator Bowl."
From various sources around the Southeast, I have come into possession of the list of the most-wanted high school athletes in the state. None has signed yet. They are known as "blue-chippers" to the alumni. Coaches call them "job-savers." Here's the list.
Ardell Grover - Linebacker from Atlanta. Missed half his senior season with terminal acne. "He'll hit you," say the recruiters. Especially if you call him "Zit Head," which a tenthgrader did shortly before Ardell rendered him unconscious during fifth-period study hall.
Marvin Palafox - Marvin is a tight end. He's from Macon. Wears No. 82. Scored same number on his college boards. "Great hands," say the coaches. So do the cheerleaders.
Scooter T. Washington - Halfback from Savannah. Olympic speed. Expensive tastes. Wants two Cadillacs and a mink coat like Reggie Jackson's to sign. Answers the telephone, "You need the loot to get the Scoot." Contact through his agent, Sam the Fly, at the Wise Owl Pool and Recreation Hall, Savannah.
Billy Bob Walton - offensive tackle from Moultrie. Extremely offensive. Friends call him "Dump Truck" because that's how big he is, and he could eat all the pork chops and mashed potatoes out of the back of one. Made Tifton Gazette All-Area team. Makes Junior Samples look like David Niven. Loves buttermilk but can't spell it.
Lavonne "The Rolling Stone" Larue - Led Columbus high school in interceptions. Also led burglary ring to back entrance of Harry's One-Stop Stereo Shop. Got one to five, but sentence suspended when entire student body turned out as character witnesses after suggestion they do so by several of The Stone's "acquaintances." "Can start for any college team in the country," says his coach, who didn't start him once and still carries the scars.
Irving Boatright III - Quarterback for a fashionable northside Atlanta private school. Father prominent Atlanta attorney with homes on Hilton Head and Sea Island. Can't play a lick, but the head coach gets free legal advice and either house three weeks each summer. Started every game during high school career. Bed-wetter.
Barthanatomay Rimjob - Place-kicker. Son of Pakistani professor of Eastern philosophy at Clayton Junior College. Kicks soccer style. Made 110 straight extra points during prep career. Does not speak English and goes through 15-minute ancient ritual before every kick. Weighs 90 pounds soaking wet. Once scored winning touchdown on fake field goal by hiding ball in his turban.
Albert Wartz Jr.-From South Georgia. 6'4", 250. Plays quarterback. Questionable student. Thinks Henry Cabot Lodge is a motel in Bainbridge. Filled out recruiting questionnaire. By "sex" wrote: "Not since Mavis Wilson moved out of Hahira." "This kid," says his high school coach, "doesn't know the meaning of ‘quit.'" Doesn't know the meaning of third-grade arithmetic either. Leaning toward Alabama.
Lewis Grizzard was a syndicated columnist, who took pride in his Southern roots and often wrote about them. This column is part of a collection of his work.