BLITZ Stars in the Pros
There are College Spotlight players, and then there are those rare few who go on to the highest level in sports. Here’s a list of former BLITZ Stars who have at one point or another gone on to play professionally (alpha order).
DISCLAIMER: We’re human…if we missed someone, it wasn’t intentionally. Send a kind reminder to email@example.com and we’re more than happy to add them in.
Spencer Adams was a White County stud two-sport star. He excelled at both baseball and basketball, but it was the former that he decided to pursue professionally. Being drafted in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox, he elected to forego his UGA baseball offer to play in the Bigs.
WHITE COUNTY c/o 2014
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ covered Spencer throughout his White County career in both baseball and basketball. His senior year, he was named BLITZ Player of the Year for both. He is in the BLITZ Hall of Fame as both a baseball and basketball player as well.
WHERE IS HE NOW? He’s still climbing to the Big Leagues. The righty has played parts of six seasons in the White Sox organization, steadily advancing to AAA Charlotte in 2018. To date, Adams has a 40-48 record with a 3.93 ERA and 473 strikeouts against just 159 walks. He has thrown four complete games, two being shutouts. Adams was once a MLB Top 100 Prospect (pre-2015). His last season was in 2019. He is currently still listed officially as a Free Agent as of August 2021.
Chris Beck played his high school ball right here in Jefferson, leading the Dragons to some exciting playoff runs. Beck was originally drafted out of high school in the 35th round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians, but chose instead to improve his stock at Georgia Southern. His decision paid off. After being named Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player, he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 2nd round of the 2012 MLB Draft. He has gotten some MLB action to date.
JEFFERSON c/o 2009
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ covers Jefferson now (not during Beck’s time at JHS), but prior to BLITZ being BLITZ, we followed Beck and the Dragons during their playoff push in 2009.
WHERE IS HE NOW? Beck chased that dream to be in the Big Show permanently. Since being drafted in 2012 (ironically also in the 2nd round by the White Sox like Adams, above), he has also played in the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals organization. The White Sox released him in 2018, where the Mets quickly snagged him up. In November 2018, the Cardinals then grabbed him. He has a 33-38 record in the minors with a 3.85 ERA and 10 saves, adding 364 strikeouts. At the MLB level, he has appeared in four different seasons from 2015-18 with the White Sox and Mets, going 4-4 with a 5.88 ERA and one save, as well as 86 strikeouts. He pitched in the Cardinals’ organization for AAA Memphis Redbirds in 2019. He has not played since.
Ralston Cash is a Cornelia, GA native who is a local favorite and had been knocking on the door to the Big Show for quite some time. While he has done very well on the mound, he had also been arguably more effective in his off-the-field awareness for helping those in need. He has been a true example of using his own life experiences to help others who need encouragement. Cash founded the “Ralston Cash Foundation”, which is a non-profit organization that buys Christmas presents for children who have lost a parent to cancer. He was taken by the Dodgers in the 2nd Round of the 2010 MLB Draft.
LAKEVIEW ACADEMY c/o 2010
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ does NOT cover Lakeview, but Cash is an exception here because of his local ties to Cornelia and the Habersham area. Cash is Habersham all the way.
WHERE IS HE NOW? Like both Adams and Beck, Cash completes the A,B,C in local pitchers that shot for the stars who were drafted in the 2nd round. Through 2018, his last season, Cash had played in parts of 8 seasons in the minors to the tune of a 32-27 record (9 saves) and a 4.20 ERA to go with 490 strikeouts. He was with the Dodgers organization until 2017, when after being released, he was picked up by the Seattle Mariners organization. He was ultimately released and picked up by both the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Angels.
Ben Cleveland was a consensus 5-star recruit out of Stephens County on the O-Line. He was a top-10 national prospect before going to UGA, where he was a pivotal piece of the line that led the Bulldogs to a National Championship game appearance in 2018. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2021 NFL Draft, going in the 3rd Round (94th Overall).
STEPHENS COUNTY c/o 2016
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ covers Stephens County since 2015, and he has been one of the school’s most accomplished player post graduation.
WHERE IS HE NOW? As a 5-star recruit out of Stephens County, Cleveland went to UGA and played all 15 games, including 5 starts in the 2017 National Championship game season. As a redshirt sophomore in 2018, he started 8 games with 6 games missed to injury. He played in all 13 games with 7 starts as a redshirt junior in 2019, and started all 9 games as a redshirt senior in COVID-shortened 2020. He was named 3rd Team All-American and 1st Team All-SEC before being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2021 NFL Draft, going in the 3rd Round (94th Overall).
Chad Cunningham was a Dawson County star punter at 6’2, 205 lbs from 2002-05. He traded his Tigers maroon and gold for Tennessee Volunteer orange and stayed in state with an NFL career with the Titans. While he was a punter, many forget that at Dawson, he was also the QB and safety all four years as a starter, throwing for over 4,100 yards and 40 TD. He was also a soccer and basketball star in high school. Of his DC records, he still owns longest punt (71 yds), and was 19-for-24 on his field goal attempts, and averaged 46 yards per punt during his 2005 All-State senior season.
DAWSON COUNTY c/o 2006
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ covers Dawson County since 2009, and he has been one of the school’s most accomplished player post graduation.
WHERE IS HE NOW? His Volunteers career saw him punt for 6,214 yards (41.7 avg) on 149 career punts, 26 of which were better than 50 yards (long: 58). He also recorded a field goal and four extra points, and rushed for 25 yards while adding 11 tackles. He handled kickoff duties too in college, averaging 61 yds/kickoff with 5 touchbacks and 4,939 total yards. He went undrafted but was taken by the Tennessee Titans. He was cut before ever playing in an NFL game, but still was in the organization.
Colton Davis was a Commerce native who first left the Tigers’ baseball program for Western Carolina University. He was later drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 25th round of the 2016 MLB Draft.
COMMERCE c/o 2012
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ has covered Commerce since 2011, of which Davis was a part of the Tigers’ program at that time.
WHERE IS HE NOW? Davis, since being drafted 753rd overall in 2016 by the Twins, remained in Minnesota’s organization. He had resided in High-A ball, going 7-8 with a 3.58 ERA and 12 saves in 83 career pro games. He struck out 133 hitters to just 63 walks in 125.2 IP. He officially retired voluntarily according to MiLB.com prior to 2019. At WCU in three seasons, he went 5-5 (2 saves) with a 6.38 ERA and 88 K.
Not everyone knew this – but Kevin Ellison went on to play pro football in…Italy. Here’s proof below. The Habersham star quarterback had arguably one of the best careers ever at Georgia Southern before going on to play for the Milano Rhinos in the Italian Football League. At Habersham, he rushed for 4,372 yards and 63 TD and passed for 1,412 and 15. An underrated two-star recruit, he had an outstanding career at GSU, rushing for 3,368 yards and 35 TD, while passing for 3,225 yards and 19 TD.
HABERSHAM CENTRAL c/o 2012
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ covered Ellison religiously all throughout his high school career. He was the BLITZ Player of the Year in his 2011 senior season, which still ranks as one of the best-ever in Georgia for a dual-threat QB.
WHERE IS HE NOW? After a ridiculous career in both high school and at Georgia Southern, Ellison played for the Milano Rhinos of the Italian Football League in 2018, and did exactly what we’re so used to seeing him do = dominate. Among his top career moments includes beating the Florida Gators in an enormous upset at The Swamp during his career at Georgia Southern.
TJ (TAILOR) JONES
Tailor Jones, better known as TJ, was an elite receiver at Gainesville High School from 2006-09 for the Red Elephants. After helping them get to the State Championship game in the Georgia Dome in 2009, he went on to have a solid career at Notre Dame before heading to the NFL with the Detroit Lions after being drafted in the 6th Round in 2014.
GAINESVILLE c/o 2010
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ does not specifically cover Gainesville athletics, but we covered very heavily the Red Elephants from 2007-2014 with guys like Jones, Blake Sims (below), and Deshaun Watson (below).
WHERE IS HE NOW? A 2nd Team All-American in high school, Jones had well over 2,500 receiving yards and 30 TD, earning a 4-star recruit status. At Notre Dame, he had 2,429 career yards and 19 TD, helping the Fighting Irish get to the National Championship in 2013. In 6 NFL seasons with the Lions (’14-’18) and Giants (’19), Jones had 852 receiving yards and 5 TD, and played in 45 regular season games.
TK as he is oft referred, is one of the top athletes to come out of Habersham, no doubt. The All-State receiver followed his historic career with the Raiders with a great career at UGA, and now plays in the NFL on Sundays. While being gifted and obtaining so much success, Tavarres still finds ample time to come home and help many others accomplish their dreams.
HABERSHAM CENTRAL c/o 2008
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ covered the duo of TK and QB Bo Hatchett through their illustrious careers at Hab Central back in the day.
WHERE IS HE NOW? TK was the Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year and All-State WR from Habersham, finishing with 3,726 yards and 37 TD for the Raiders, giving him 4-star recruit status. At UGA, he finished his four-year career with the Bulldogs with 2,602 yards and 20 TD before being drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 5th Round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He went from the Broncos (2013) to the Carolina Panthers (2013-14), Jacksonville Jaguars (2014), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014), New York Giants (2015-17), and Minnesota Vikings (2018). He caught a huge playoff TD catch from Eli Manning for the Giants in the 2017 playoffs. He registered 303 receiving yards and 3 TD in the NFL regular season in his career.
Right behind Tavarres King (above), Kinsey learned from and trained under the fellow star receiver Habersham Raider. Kinsey is second in most every receiving statistic at Hab Central to King. He was not topped by anyone after his four-year stay at Berry College, however. At one point, he led the nation in receiving TDs. After going undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft, he was quickly snagged up by the Tennessee Titans as a priority free agent. He became the first-ever Berry player to go pro.
HABERSHAM CENTRAL c/o 2016
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ covered Mason Kinsey throughout his Habersham career, and spotlighted him often while at Berry.
WHERE IS HE NOW? Undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft, Kinsey was a priority free agent signing by the Tennessee Titans just hours after the draft wrapped up. He headed into the 2020 season with a chance to crack the NFL roster. He was released and signed on with the New England Patriots practice squad. He re-signed with the Titans practice squad in January 2021, and played in a preseason NFL game on August 13, 2021 at his hometown Atlanta Falcons, hauling in 4 receptions for 51 yards.
Ethan Martin was a rare talent through the Stephens County area. He was a 2008 Indians product who was a 1st Round MLB Draft Pick in 2008 by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Martin got a good taste of the Big Leagues in 2013-14 with the Philadelphia Phillies.
STEPHENS COUNTY c/o 2008
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ covers Stephens County since 2010, but also covered some of the Indians’ playoff runs in years prior.
WHERE IS HE NOW? Martin transcended greatness at Stephens County, and wasted no time on a pro career when he was a 1st Round MLB Draft pick by the Dodgers in 2008. As quickly as 2009, he was #59 among MLB’s top 100 prospects. From then until 2013, he fought his way through the Minor League system. While he was very successful in the minors, in July 2012, the Dodgers traded him to the Phillies for OF Shane Victorino. He quickly made his way through AAA until his MLB debut in 2013, against…of all teams, the Atlanta Braves. He went 2-5 in his MLB career which spanned just 2013-14, and amassed a 5.93 ERA and 51 strikeouts. He was hampered by shoulder injuries and signed with the Braves in 2016, but never pitched professionally after that.
Tucker Maxwell was an outstanding athlete in both baseball and football, but with a cannon of an arm and speed for days, he chose the former at UGA. He had a solid 3-year career for the Bulldogs before signing with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2019 MLB Draft.
DAWSON COUNTY c/o 2016
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ covered Tucker throughout his short Dawson County career in both baseball and football after he and his dad, coach Sid Maxwell, came over from Lambert. His senior year, he was named BLITZ Player of the Year in baseball. He is in the BLITZ Hall of Fame as both a baseball and football player as well.
WHERE IS HE NOW? He was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2019 MLB Draft in the 22nd round (660th overall) after a solid three-year career at UGA. With little left to prove, he signed quickly with the Phillies to begin his path to the BIGS. In his first pro action in 2019, Maxwell hit .160 with 2 HR and 6 RBI to go with 4 SB in A ball. He has not played professionally since.
Lee McCoy will famously be remembered for making national headlines in 2016 when he beat the world’s #1 Jordan Spieth in the Valspar Championship, but couldn’t collect on the earnings. He was still a collegiate golfer at UGA, where he became one of the best in Bulldogs history. Now he can collect, because he plays in the PGA and PGA Tour Canada, professionally.
HABERSHAM CENTRAL c/o 2012
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ has covered Habersham Central since 2009 full-time. McCoy was named BLITZ Golfer of the Year in 2012.
WHERE IS HE NOW? McCoy came from Florida to Habersham Central, and quickly made a name for himself as a 2012 State Champion for the Raiders golf team. He excelled at UGA as one of the best to ever play there, and in the SEC. He went pro, and to date (as of March 2019) he has earned $179,685 in total earnings between PGA Tour, Mackenzie Tour (PGA Canada), and the Web.com Tour. He has three career tournament wins, and six top-ten finishes professionally.
Will Monday was a very good high school kicker/punter who was part of the Flowery Branch glory days in 2008-09. Those Falcons teams went to the State Championship and the State Semifinals. He went on to a great career at Duke before heading to the NFL.
FLOWERY BRANCH c/o 2011
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ does not cover Flowery Branch, but Monday was part of that special group from 2007 until about 2014 that we featured quite often.
WHERE IS HE NOW? Monday made his way to playing on Sundays. He had quite the high school career, earning a 3-star recruit status as a kicker. At Duke, he was a 4-time All-ACC selection at punter; in 53 games, he punted 260 times for 11,299 yards and a 46.46 yards per punt average (highest in Duke history). He downed 88 punts inside the opponent 20-yard line against 33 touchbacks. He completed four-of-five (.800) passing attempts for 41 yards. His 79-yard punt in the 2012 Belk Bowl is still a record. He was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2016 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and later played with the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals in 2017. Though he never appeared in an actual NFL game, he was on all three squads, and is currently still listed as a free agent.
Connor Shaw is probably the biggest gamer we’ve ever seen. Rumors include that during the 2008 State Championship, he came off the field with a dislocated shoulder, had it popped back in, and returned for the next series. He often did those things at South Carolina as well, having one of the best Gamecocks careers ever as a QB, and then went to the NFL for a few years.
FLOWERY BRANCH c/o 2010
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ does not cover Flowery Branch, but Shaw was part of that special group from 2007 until about 2014 that we featured quite often.
WHERE IS HE NOW? Shaw is now out of the NFL, but put together an amazing career. Starting at Flowery Branch, he put up 5,300 yards in just two years as a starter, and had 1,200 receiving yards when brother Jaybo was under center. The 3-star recruit then played for coach Steve Spurrier, going 27-5 as a starter (winningest SC QB ever), and threw for 6,074 yards and 56 TD (against just 16 INT), and rushed for 1,683 yards and 17 TD. In his final game at USC, the Capital One Bowl in 2014 on New Years Day, Shaw completed the rare trio of passing, rushing, and catching a TD. He threw three, ran for one, and caught one, earning MVP honors. His NFL career saw him go from the Cleveland Browns (2014-15) to the Chicago Bears (2016-17). He played just one regular season game for the Browns, completing 14-of-28 passes for 177 yards, and rushing for 9. His 2016 Bears season looked promising in preseason play, as he was tearing it up before a gruesome broken leg ended his season.
Blake Sims was the Deshaun Watson before Deshuan Watson…exactly one year before. Sims left Gainesville after taking the Red Elephants to a State Championship game in 2009, and Deshaun came on the next year as a freshman. The rest is history. While Sims’ numbers were nowhere near Watson’s, he was in his own right an incredibly gifted dual-threat at Gainesville. One of the best. He patiently waited his time at Alabama under Nick Saban to start one year for the Tide, taking them to the College Football Playoff in 2014. He was part of the 2013 and 2014 National Championship teams, even squaring off against former Gainesville teammate TJ Jones (above) in the 2013 Natty.
GAINESVILLE c/o 2010
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ does not specifically cover Gainesville athletics, but we covered very heavily the Red Elephants from 2007-2014 with guys like Jones (above), Sims, and Deshaun Watson (below).
WHERE IS HE NOW? Sims was an All-State QB for Gainesville, throwing for over 5,000 yards in just two seasons for the Red Elephants and accounting for over 60 TD. He also rushed for about 1,700 yards. He was a 4-star recruit, listed as the #33 athlete in the nation. After spending much of his Alabama career as a running back and backup QB, he finally started in 2014, his senior year. He set Alabama’s single-season passing record of 3,487 (since broken by Tua Tagovailoa in 2018). He finished his Tide career with 3,700 passing yards and 30 TD, adding over 600 rushing yards and another 9 TD. He went undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft, but was picked up by the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League. He played with The Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) in 2015 as well. After not recorded any stats for either, and not being picked up after trying out for the NFL Green Bay Packers & Washington Redskins, he went to Australia to play with the Wollongong Devils of the National Gridiron League. The Atlanta Falcons then signed him in 2016 to the practice squad as a RB. After being released, he went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a reserve for 2016-17. After again being released, Sims had found a home with the brand new Birmingham Iron (Alliance of American Football), as he was drafted in the 2nd Round.
David Sosebee laid the foundation for Spencer Adams at White County. The two right-handers were fairly similar in terms of approach and domination. Sosebee went on to play a solid career at UGA (7-8, 3.42 ERA, 1 Save, 93 K) before going pro with the New York Yankees organization in the 28th Round of the 2015 MLB Draft. He was also selected but didn’t go pro in 2011 by the Boston Red Sox in the 48th Round.
WHITE COUNTY c/o 2011
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ covered Sosebee and the Warriors throughout his high school career. He was the BLITZ Baseball Player of the Year in both 2010 and 2011, and is a member of the BLITZ Hall of Fame.
WHERE IS HE NOW? Sosebee had advanced very well through the Yankees system since 2015. In five seasons in the minors, he wass 18-14 overall with a tiny 2.64 ERA and 28 saves to go with 296 strikeouts (against just 90 walks). He tallied 14 saves in 2017, and in 2018 earned promotions to AA and AAA with Scranton-Wilkes-Barre. Sosebee threw a relievers’ no-hitter amidst his 2018 promotion (a rare feat you must read to believe) and also took care of shutting down highly-touted and famous Tim Tebow among his big moments. Sosebee was just a call away from The BIGS! In 2019, he went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA with 6 saves, striking out 66 in 51 innings of work. Unfortunately, he did not play professionally after that.
This might be one of the coolest paths taken on this list. Ansley Vardeman was a standout cross country runner from Towns County, winning a state title as an individual and as a team. With ample talent to run at the next level, she pursued a dream as a cheer dancer at UGA, becoming one of the best in the SEC. She then chased that dream right to the Boston Celtics.
TOWNS COUNTY c/o 2013
WHY IS SHE HERE? BLITZ covered Vardeman and the dynasty of the Towns County cross country program since 2010.
WHERE IS SHE NOW? The sole woman on this list, Vardeman has been such a great example of hard work paying off. She never settled, and look where she is now, with the NBA as a Celtics Dancer.
From All-American to NFL invite, Harley Vaughan has made Dawson County very proud. The center had a great career as a Tiger, and even better one at West Georgia, and received an invite to try out for the Falcons in 2018.
DAWSON COUNTY c/o 2013
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ has covered Dawson County since 2009.
WHERE IS HE NOW? Vaughan completed a great career at Dawson, and was so great at UWG. He was a two-time All-American center. He holds the record for most starts and games played for the Wolves in a career, which will be hard to break. He tried out at the Falcons’ minicamp in 2018. Though he didn’t make the squad, he can keep his head held high to achieve the opportunity.
Needs no introduction. State Champion. National Champion. Heisman two-time finalist. First Round NFL Draft Pick by the Houston Texans. Future Super Bowl Champion. The GOAT.
GAINESVILLE c/o 2014
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ covered Watson and the Red Elephants during his tenure and before. It was an honor and privilege to get to know him a little bit and witness up close the talent plus the humility of this young man.
WHERE IS HE NOW? You know this story. Closed his Gainesville career with a 46-9 overall record as a 4-year starter, throwing for 13,077 yards and 159 TD (both records at the time), and rushing for 4,057 and another 59 TD. 12 playoff wins, including a State Championship as a junior in 2012, and three region titles. He was the #1-ranked dual-threat QB in the country, a legit 5-star recruit who picked Clemson. He quickly became the poster for the Tigers, and was a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist, a National Champion (and one-time runner-up), Clemson’s GOAT, and a 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He was named a Pro Bowler in his second season (2018), and entering 2021 he has 14,539 passing yards and 104 TD, and 1,677 rushing yards and 17 TD, and even a 6-yd TD catch. He led the NFL in passing yards in 2020 with 4,823.
Charlie Woerner had the name, as his uncle was a UGA legend. However, he made a name of his own as a great blocking TE for the Bulldogs, playing in the 2018 National Championship game. He also was one of the best to ever suit up for Rabun County. He went on to be drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2020 NFL Draft.
RABUN COUNTY c/o 2016
WHY IS HE HERE? BLITZ covered Woerner throughout his Rabun County career and spotlighted him often while starring at UGA.
WHERE IS HE NOW? Woerner, who had a spectacular career at Rabun, went on to be a primary blocking TE at UGA. He put up 376 receiving yards and a TD in his 4-year career there. He was drafted 190th overall in the 6th round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, who had just come off a Super Bowl appearance. Entering the 2020 season, he had a great chance to glean from one of the game’s top TE targets in George Kittle. In his rookie season, Woerner had 3 catches for 43 yards and played in 14 games.