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Athletes Beyond Bartow: Lawrence and Jags in playoff hunt; Shealy drafted by L.A. Galaxy

Trevor Lawrence has helped his Jacksonville Jaguars into the playoff picture in the NFL and Cartersville native Russell Shealy was drafted by the MLS L.A. Galaxy

There was limited action involving local Athletes Beyond Bartow during the past holiday week, but significant contributions and news were made by Bartow County athletes.

In the NFL, former Cartersville High School quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars have been red hot in recent weeks. Their win Thursday night before a national audience moved the Jags into first place in the AFC South Division with just two weeks remaining in the regular season. In soccer news, Cartersville resident Russell Shealy was drafted by the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer following his national championship win with Syracuse. Meanwhile, in college football, former Hurricanes' defensive end JaCorey Johns of Wake Forest declared for the NFL Draft.


TREVOR LAWRENCE — Jacksonville Jaguars (NFL, 2nd-yr. pro; Clemson; Cartersville HS … combining the Jaguars’ 19-3 Thursday night win over the Jets with the Titans’ 19-14 loss to the Texans Christmas Eve, Lawrence and Jacksonville have moved into first place in the AFC South with just two weeks remaining in the regular season. The Jags and Tennessee are both 7-8 but Jacksonville currently holds the tie-breaker. In this past Thursday’s win over the Jets, Lawrence was 20-for-31 passing for 229 yards. He did not throw for a touchdown but did have a rushing touchdown in the second quarter by leaping over the pile and extending the football on a 1-yard keeper that gave Jacksonville the lead at 10-3. The Jaguars, trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017, play at Houston on New Year’s Day and close the regular season at home against Tennessee on January 8.


Jordan Ferguson

JORDAN FERGUSON — Middle Tennessee State University (R-Sr., Cartersville HS) … prepped and played football at Norcross and St. Francis Academy before transferring and graduating from Cartersville High School in 2017. A defensive lineman and sixth-year senior at Middle Tennessee, Ferguson was on this year’s watch list for the Lombardi and Bednarik Awards. In last Saturday night’s 25-23 Hawai’i Bowl win over San Diego State, he was named Capital One Player of the Game after recording a comprehensive stat line. Ferguson finished with five tackles, one tackle for loss, one pass breakup, one quarterback hurry, and one interception. He also got into the action on offense catching an eight-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter that narrowed the Blue Raiders’ deficit to 14-10 at the time. It was his third career touchdown and first on offense. He also had a fumble recovery return for a touchdown this season and recovered a punt block for a touchdown in 2021. Ferguson, who has declared for the 2023 NFL Draft, had 68 total tackles this season and finished his career with 22 sacks — second most all-time for the Blue Raiders. MTSU finished the year with an 8-5 record.

JaCorey Johns

JaCOREY JOHNS — Wake Forest University (R-Jr., Cartersville HS) … the Deacons’ defensive end opted to not participate in the Gasparilla Bowl — a game won by Wake Forest last Friday night in Tampa, 27-17. Johns announced via social media over the weekend that he will forego next season and make himself eligible for this Spring’s NFL Draft. Johns played in 43 games at Wake Forest across four seasons. He made 131 total tackles including 21.5 for loss and 8.5 sacks.

Evan Slocum

EVAN SLOCUM — Wake Forest University (So., Cartersville HS) … made two tackles including one for a one-yard loss in the Demon Deacons’ 27-17 Gasparilla Bowl win over Missouri last Friday night in Tampa. Slocum added a pair of pass breakups and briefly had a fumble recovery return for a touchdown until a replay review ruled the play an incomplete forward pass. He finished the 2022 season with 45 total tackles. Wake Forest finished the season with an 8-5 record.

Brandon Wade

BRANDON WADE — University of West Florida (Grad Student, Cartersville HS) … made a pair of tackles in the Argonauts’ 38-17 loss at Ferris State on December 10 in the NCAA Division II National Semifinals. Wade completed the season with 25 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and one quarterback hurry. UWF was 12-2 this season.


Russell Shealy

RUSSELL SHEALY — Los Angeles Galaxy (Major League Soccer, Syracuse, Cartersville native, Darlington HS)… after winning the 2022 NCAA Championship with Syracuse University, Shealy, 23, was drafted by the Galaxy. He spent three seasons with Syracuse tallying 16 shutouts in 43 games played, including 10 shutouts and a 0.73 goals-against average this season. Prior to transferring to Syracuse, Shealy spent two seasons at the University of Maryland and was a member of the Terrapin side that claimed the 2018 NCAA National Championship during his redshirt season.


KYLE GOLLHOFER — University of Northern Iowa (So., Woodland HS) … all three of his 125-pound bouts but the 22nd-ranked Panthers defeated Lock Haven 35-3 and No. 3 Ohio State 19-13 last Monday in New Orleans at the Collegiate Duals before falling Tuesday to 7th-ranked North Carolina State, 27-12. Northern Iowa participates in the Soldier Salute Thursday and Friday in Coralville, Iowa.


ASHTON HAGANS — Greensboro Swarm (NBA G-League; 3rd-year pro; Cartersville native; Kentucky; Newton HS) … scored nine points with seven rebounds, three steals, and one assist last Tuesday in a 108-91 loss to the Sioux Falls Skyforce at the NBA G-League Showcase at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Last Thursday, he scored two points, grabbed two rebounds, and added two assists in a 109-90 victory over the G-League Ignite at the Showcase. The Swarm (7-11) play the Long Island Nets Tuesday and Thursday night in Uniondale, New York before hosting the Capital City Go-Go New Year’s Eve afternoon in Greensboro.


BRAXTON BENHAM —Berry College (So., Cass HS) … was a starter and played 25 minutes but recorded no stat line and took only one shot last Monday in an 82-76 loss to Roanoke College. He then did not play in the Vikings’ 83-64 loss to Hampden Sydney College Tuesday. Both games were part of the Nashville Shootout played at Welch College. Berry (8-2) plays Piedmont and Emory Thursday and Friday in the Emory Classic in Atlanta.

CLAIRE DAVIS — Palm Beach Atlantic University (Fr., Cass HS) … grabbed six rebounds, scored four points, and made one steal in a 72-71 Sailfish loss to visiting Texas A&M International last Monday. Palm Beach Atlantic (6-4, 2-2 Sunshine State Conference) returns to conference play Thursday at Tampa University and plays at home Sunday against Eckerd College.

Jaylon Pugh

JAYLON PUGH — Lander University (Grad Student, Cartersville HS) … in his second start of the season, Pugh scored 12 points with one rebound and two assists last Monday as the Bearcats won at Southern Wesleyan, 88-78. Lander (8-2, 1-0 Peach Belt Conference) plays at Carson-Newman Saturday afternoon.


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