June 22, 2014

Introducing ‘D-1’

Dalton High’s new linebacker receiving colleges’ attention

Nate Mays’ Twitter account name is “D-1.”

The moniker is appropriate, since “D-1” is probably where the Dalton High School football player is headed.

The Catamounts’ newest outside linebacker has a lot of eyes watching him and a lot of ears wondering where he’s headed. With Division I offers already coming his way and his summer schedule full, Mays is about to make one of the most important decisions a 17-year-old can make.

“It’s not really overwhelming,” he said. “It’s kind of exciting.”

Nate who?

If you only follow Dalton football on Friday nights in the fall, you may not even know who Nate Mays is. He hasn’t played a single snap for Dalton, and yet he’s possibly the school’s next great player.

A starter at Gordon Central High School in Calhoun the past two seasons, the rising senior helped his former school to an 8-3 record and a Class 3A state playoff appearance in 2012. Mays had 59 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a spot on the Rome News-Tribune’s All-Area second team. Colleges started taking notice.

The team finished 2013 with a new coach — Chad Fisher resigned after the 2012 season, and David Humphreys took over — and without a victory. Mays finished with 93 tackles, four sacks, four forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown. He made the Calhoun Times’ All-County first team and the Rome News-Tribune’s All-Area first team.

Then he came to Dalton, and his new teammates and fans got the first up-close football impressions during spring practice.

“My first reaction was the first time we lined up for scrimmage and seeing the size and stature and being, ‘Oh my goodness, this kid is a freak. We’re so lucky to have him,’” said Payton Veraldi, a returning starter at quarterback. “The very first play, he came off the edge and I forget who it was but he was absolutely demolished.”

Mays said he and his family made a “bona fide move” — the Georgia High School Association exception allowing transfers to play for their new school without sitting out one year — into the Dalton city limits and transferred to the high school between the fall and spring semesters of this past school year.

“I was looking for a better opportunity,” Mays said. “Dalton was a good choice. I thought I was working hard. When I came to Dalton, I realized I wasn’t working as hard as I needed to be.”

And the Catamounts now have a new star — a 6-foot, 3-inch, 217-pound physical force with a 4.5-second time in the 40-yard dash — at outside linebacker.

“It’s amazing to watch him work out,” said Dalton coach Matt Land, who noted Mays can squat nearly 600 pounds. “He has an explosiveness that’s pretty rare. When he came to us, he was really raw. One of the things we’ve helped him understand is the Dalton system, where it’s just doing his job. He comes from a system where he did everything.

“I think the thing I recognized off the bat is he’s so explosive that we had to slow him down a bit.”

Other teams like that explosiveness and strength, too. They like it so much they want Mays committing — now.

Wake Forest and Cincinnati, two BCS-level Division I schools, have offered scholarships, Mays said. They are the two most prestigious offers for a Dalton player since offensive lineman Watts Dantzler signed with the University of Georgia following the 2010 season.

Mays’ decision can’t be official until next February, when the annual signing day is, but he can make a verbal commitment to secure a scholarship at any time.

In fact, Mays said it’d be wise to do that — and soon.

“I kind of have no choice if I want to have a promised spot,” he said. “Coaches tell me that while I’m out here shopping for colleges, they’re shopping for players. So I need my decision pretty soon in order to not have my spot close up.

“They don’t want to keep playing the chasing game and end up not having me sign with them.”

Text Only
  • Eder Mora.jpg Dalton's Eder Mora will not play football

    Dalton High School football coach Matt Land confirmed Friday morning that star linebacker Eder Mora will not play football this fall.
    “Eder, obviously, is not here,” Land said after the opening of the first day of conditioning for area high school teams. “He has an opportunity to do something really special in soccer.”

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7on7 day 1 '14 23 mlh.jpg Conditioning for success

    Local high school football teams have had voluntary workouts, seven-on-seven drills and other practices and camps throughout the summer.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Summer of Satterfield: Rising star goes low for latest victory

    Chatsworth’s Savannah Satterfield is proving her mettle on the golf course this summer, and her latest tournament outing resulted in another title and a record round.

    July 25, 2014

  • Roadrunners’ Mitchell receives high academic honor

    Chatsworth’s Tyler Mitchell hopes to make his living playing professional golf. But if his dreams of courtesy cars and big checks on the PGA Tour don’t come through, he knows he can rely upon his education.

    July 25, 2014

  • Larry Case: Camping a sure cure for the big city blues

    In case you haven’t noticed, we are looking right down the gun barrel at winding down on another summer.

    July 25, 2014

  • Chris Whitfield's Fairways & Greens: Nob North prepares for 'big date'

    Like anyone getting ready for a big date, golf courses get dressed up when it is time for a major event. But while a woman may put on a little makeup and a man may add a spray of cologne, Nob North Golf Course in Varnell is getting something more akin to Botox.

    July 24, 2014

  • DSCgolf-col.jpg Dalton State notebook: Women's golf looking forward to tee time

    After a “redshirt” year for the entire program in 2013-14, Dalton State College’s women’s golf team is looking forward to its inaugural campaign.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todd roasted 1 mlh.jpg One last 'Goodbye' for coach Todd

    Charles Todd talks to parents and coaches before his going-away party Tuesday in the Dalton High School commons area.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fishing Lures3cw.jpg Turner lured into love of learning fishing business

    Fishing and tall tales go hand in hand, and after nearly three decades in a business supplying local anglers, Phil Turner has heard just about all of them.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • U.S. Amateur dreams over for local golfers

    Dalton golfers Chase Miller and Will Morrow traveled to Cincinnati on Tuesday in an attempt to earn a spot in the U.S. Amateur Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, but neither earned one of the three qualifying spots at the 6,588-yard, par-70 course at Camargo Club.

    July 23, 2014

Devin Golden's sports updates
AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites