Football and helping young men is in Micheal Carson’s blood. The Buford (GA) and Alabama State graduate compiled a 27-19 record in four years as head coach at Avondale (GA) and Martin Luther King (GA), led Avondale to the playoffs for the first time in 20 years in 2009, won two region titles at MLK, won various Coach of the Year honors and sent over 40 players on to the collegiate level in his last two years at MLK. Since resigning from MLK prior to the 2012 season, he got right to work on his next move. He decided to remain in the business of getting young men into college by way of the pigskin only now at the prep school level. Carson is the founder and first-ever football coach in the history of Georgia Prep Sports Academy football program, a prep school located in Atlanta, GA.
“I just wanted to continue to do what I’ve been doing for the past 17 years and that is impacting young kids lives,” Carson stated. “I’m strictly in this for the kids, it’s my passion. I love the game of football”
There will be no home stadium, tailgating or festive marching band for these Lions, they will play 11 road games in their inaugural season in 2013 with mainly Sunday and Monday game dates. The season opener against LaGrange (GA) College JV is Sunday August 25th. Six of the eleven opponents will be against JV teams from LaGrange College, St. Francis (PA), Point University (GA), Carson Newman (TN), Paine (GA) College and Maryville (TN) College. Also on the schedule is Gary Military Prep, Columbus State (GA) Club, Fort Benning (GA) Club, Greenville (SC) Tech Prep and Fork Union (VA) Military.
“We are trying to get kids exposed through this program, get them where they need to be academically and get them signed to go off to school somewhere and if we are able to do that it’s going to stand out more than winning games. Were just trying to prepare these guys for life,” Carson said about playing 11 road games this year.
Carson recruited all 38 players on the roster so far and oversaw an upbeat and disciplined practice in the shadow of downtown Atlanta at Cheney Park with the same focus, teaching and fire that yielded so much success at his previous stops. He sternly interrupted practice after a rep to get a point across to his players. Pointing to the top of the hill at the film guy to remind them everything they do is on film and when schools come ask about them and want to see their film it’s not going to lie.
GPSA has some recognizable names on the roster this season from around the recruiting world headlined by former Swainsboro (GA) wide receiver Rico Johnson. Johnson did not have two online classes approved by the NCAA preventing him from attending Georgia leaving him with two options, junior college or prep school.
“Coach Carson reached out to me and told me about the program, I went and checked it out online, discussed it with my mother and let my high school guidance counselors know. Once we saw it was approved by the NCAA I came up for a visit, I liked what I saw and made my commitment and came on in,” Johnson said. “I approach this situation as a leader, guys look up to me since I was going to Georgia, highly recruited and all that so I try to do the right thing and become a better leader, win ballgames for coach and get back to where I need to be,” Johnson responded on how he’s using this experience.
Oshay Carter threw for 1,341 yards and 22TD last season at Trinity Christian (FL) and will be looking to hold down the quarterback position. Safety Mike Parker will be the leader in the secondary. Parker held offers from several D1 schools and was a 3-star recruit coming out of Kettle Run (VA) and is considering Miami after GPSA. Lloyd Howard rushed for 1,236 yards and 8TD last season at Palm Beach Central (FL) leading them to their first ever district title and regional semifinals appearance, will see plenty of action out of the backfield, he had committed to Florida Atlantic in high school.
As practice came to an end Carson continued to stress the more important things, academics and manhood. “You have got to get the academic piece together, without that you have no options. You gotta have a mission and purpose for being here. You are not in high school anymore and we are going to treat you like the young men that you are and challenge you to get better,” as he addressed the group that had his undivided attention. He ended practice outlining the study hall and tutoring schedule for the next day, loaded the squad back on the bus for the ride back to campus and is one day closer to Georgia Prep Sports Academy’s first-ever football game.
“This is just my way of giving back to these kids. We have to do a better job of giving them the understanding that education has to be first and foremost. I’m just excited about it and I love doing it. We want to prepare these guys for life and we want all of them to be successful,” Carson stated.