Grady Jarrett led Rockdale to the state semifinals in 2009 and earned an All-Region first team honor in 2010. Now the Clemson bound defensive lineman heads to Columbus, Ga. for the GACA All-Star game on Dec. 29. For a list of where to find the Rockdale News, click here, or go tohttp://www.rockdalenews.com/section/19/article/4747/
It's fitting that Grady Jarrett can finish out his high school football career on a high note, after earning several individual accolades and leading the Rockdale Bulldogs to within a few yards of the state championship.
Jarrett's senior season may not have been the most successful year on the field for the Bulldogs, but his play earned him one more game in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association All Star game.
The GACA All-Star football game will be played Wednesday in Columbus and will feature the state's top senior players, including Rockdale's All-Region, All-State, all-important defensive lineman.
"I wanted to play in an all-star game before football was over," Jarrett said. "That was one of my goals. I've always wanted to be in a game like this. There are a lot of great players, some in the NFL now, who played in this game."
After finishing his career at Rockdale in a 28-6 loss to Habersham Central, Jarrett was in gym class one day when his old football coach approached him. Michael Etheridge pulled Jarrett aside and said he had been selected to play in Columbus.
"I'm glad I could be a part of it," Jarrett said. "I was really excited when I got the news."
Jarrett has caused fits for opposing offensive lines over the last few years, using a combination of speed and strength from his 6-foot-2, 280-pound frame.
He helped lead a Rockdale defense which gave up 15.35 points per game in 2009 and 18 points per game in his senior year.
Jarrett was also a crucial part in Rockdale's surprising run to the state semifinals in 2009, which earned him All-Region and All-State honors. This season Jarrett was again selected as a first-team All-Region honoree, and also made the second team for his work on the offensive line.
"I had a really good year," Jarrett said. "And I hope to be selected for All-State like I did last year. This is the first year I played both offense and defense. I'm a hard worker, and though this season didn't go as well as I wanted it to. Me, myself, I felt I had a good season."
Jarrett has been playing football since he was five years old when his mother signed him up for pee-wee ball. In his younger days he was a running back rumbling up the field with the ball in his hands.
As he progressed through middle school and high school, he started rumbling after those who had the ball.
So far it has worked out as the honors mounted during high school, and his play landed him a scholarship offer from a major Division I school.
"It's been good," Jarrett said. "I always knew I could be successful in it, getting a scholarship and stuff was always my goal.
"I still have goals left. I wasn't to succeed at the next level and possibly go to the NFL. But so far I've really met all my goals since I was younger. First I got here, and wanted to be on a varsity team. Once I got here I wanted to excel, and then once I did that it ended up paying off."
Following his junior season Jarrett committed to play at Clemson, and will sign with the Tigers in February.
He chose the Tigers over other Division I schools such as Mississippi State, Middle Tennessee and Buffalo. After a visit to Clemson for camp and his official visit a year ago.
"The whole time there I enjoyed it," Jarrett said.
Another thing he's planning on enjoying is his trip to Columbus. Jarrett said he's looking forward to meeting new people and playing alongside players such as Ben Bradley, who was with the Bulldogs two years ago before transferring to Norcross.
Jarrett will also have his own cheering section with his two sisters and mother assuredly in attendance. Though it is a different stadium, it isn't an unfamiliar cheering section for Jarrett, who is used to his family, especially his mother, being in his corner.
"I give her all the credit," Jarrett said. "My mom has been there for