Junior to Watch: Jae Thaxton
School: Hartwell (Ga.) Hart County High School
Position: Inside Linebacker
Size and speed: Thaxton is 6-foot-3, 225 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds.
Statistics: As a sophomore, he approached the school record for tackles with 201 stops. He followed that up with 151 tackles as a junior, along with 13 tackles for loss, five sacks and one interception.
Honors: Thaxton is a two-time all-state selection at inside linebacker.
Favorite Schools: Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Clemson, Tennessee.
Skinny: “This kid has been a great player for us since the first day he stepped on the field,” said Hart County coach Gregg Seagraves, who coached Thaxton the last three years before stepping down at the end of the 2002 season. “He’s always been blessed with great physical skills, but the thing that really jumps out at you is his work ethic and desire to keep getting better.
“When our season ended, he was back out on the field a week later running by himself. He’s a kid who knows what he wants and will do whatever it takes to get there.”
Taking notice of that early in the recruiting process is Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Clemson. All four have issued scholarship offers. Thaxton is also receiving heavy interest from Tennessee, Arkansas, LSU “and just about everyone else you can think of,” Seagraves said. “I feel like a postman some days. He gets five or six letters every day, sometimes more. It’s coming from all over. He’s going to have a lot of good options in front of him before it’s all said and done.”
Seagraves said it may be too early to list favorites. “I’m not sure he has one,” he said. “I’d rather you get that straight from him, but he’s never made it clear.”
In addition to being a strong performer on the field, Thaxton is also a national honor society student.
“He’s just a special kid,” Seagraves said. “You don’t see many driven to excellence like he is.”