Why graduate high school early?
Keith Marshall
Keith Marshall
National Recruiting Analyst
Posted Dec 20, 2011
Chad Simmons

Matthew Stafford decided he wanted to get to Athens early in 2006 and he went on to start at quarterback as a true freshman before being selected first in the 2009 NFL Draft. More kids see that success and want to get a head start.

"I decided I wanted to graduate early about a year ago. I just had to make sure I had the credits to do so," said Keith Marshall.

The number one running back in the country is set to begin classes at the University of Georgia on January 9, only four days after he plays in the Under Armour All-America game in Orlando, Fla.

The Dawgs do not have a lot of depth behind Isaiah Crowell at running back, so Marshall feels getting there early increases his chances to play early in Athens.

"I want to get a jump-start on college and go through all of the off-season workouts so I have a chance to contribute early."

Odds are high that the Raleigh, N.C. native will see the field as a true freshman.

Dillon Lee is looking for that edge when he gets to Alabama early in January as well.

"Alabama is graduating five linebackers this year, so I want to get over there, learn as much as I can, and see if I can get on the field," said Lee.

He was an honor student at Buford High School in Georgia and instead of spending June and July at the beach, he spent it studying.

"I had to take English, Spanish II, Math, and Physics over the summer. I basically took my second semester over the summer so I could graduate early. I have been cleared by the NCAA and I excited about it."

The four-star linebacker saw how it worked for his brother, so he is looking forward to experiencing this himself now.

"Dallas graduated early and got to Georgia early, so I talked to him about it, I talked to coaches about it, and I think it will really help me. It helped Dallas, so I want to get to Alabama, start working right away, and just get a head start."

A prospect that will be a rival for Lee's is Justin Meredith, and the tight end out of South Carolina is set to enroll at Tennessee in January.

Meredith took classes at a local college after deciding to graduate from T.L. Hanna a semester early. The 6-foot-5, 220 pound tight end like others, is looking for any little angle to put him ahead.

"I will have a six month head-start on other freshmen, so I feel that gives me an advantage. I will get to start learning the offense, I will get to go through the workouts, and I will also get a head-start on my college classes," Meredith said.

These young men are dedicated and they have the work ethic it takes to go far in life with or without football.

In the end, they will do what it takes to make their dreams come true and that is what drove Travis Blanks to put in the extra time.

"When I started my junior year at North Florida Christian, that is when I decided I wanted to graduate early," Blanks said. "I had to go to summer school, then double up my classes my senior year to make it possible, but knowing my goals and dreams made me do it.

"Not only will I be a semester ahead at Clemson in the classroom, but I will have seven extra months to get the system down and seven months in the off-season program which is huge."

Blanks is a four-star safety out of Tallahassee, Fla. and he saw how Sammy Watkins made a huge impact for the Tigers as a true freshman this past fall and Blanks wants to be Watkins next fall on defense.

Plenty of other top 2012 prospects on Scout out of the South are graduating early as well including Alabama commitments Ryan Anderson and T.J. Yeldon, Illinois commitment Keith Brown, and Georgia commitment Faton Bauta among others.

Chad Simmons is currently a National Recruiting Analyst for FOX Sports/Scout. He started with Scout in 2003 and then moved on to another Recruiting Service from 2004-2008 before returning to Scout the first of 2009 to become South Recruiting Manager.
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