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August 17, 2010

LeMay: Star QB to sit this season

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Tom Bergeron is the Senior Editor for RivalsHigh.com. Send ideas, questions or comments to TBergero@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow on Twitter.
Christian LeMay is the No. 71 overall player and No. 3-ranked quarterback in the Rivals100 for the Class of 2010.

But he will not play high school football at Matthews (N.C.) Butler this fall. Instead, LeMay will prepare for his future at the University of Georgia, where he plans to enroll in January, his family said in a statement released Tuesday.

It is believed to be the first time a major recruit after opted not to play his senior season. But it does come with a twist.

LeMay was given a 40-day reassignment to an alternate school (essentially an out-of-school suspension) for what the family is describing as a "youthful indiscretion" he committed at the end of last school year.

Because of it, LeMay likely would not have been eligible to play at Butler until November, if at all.

LeMay could have transferred to another school - where he could have played right away. By choosing not to do so, he will miss essentially a full year of development as a quarterback.

That's not a good thing, said Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell.

"It is somewhat unprecedented and certainly will set him back as far as his development," Farrell said. "I would say it's going to dull his progress."

The fact that he's a quarterback is all the difference in the world, according to Farrell. Even knowing that LeMay was essentially too good for the competition last season, when he threw for 3,296 yards and 44 touchdowns with only two interceptions.

"Just getting out on the field is so important to your mechanics, arm strength, timing, the way you see the field," he said. "He's going to throw every day. He's going to work out. He's going to do all of the things you do in practice, except there's not going to be anybody on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

"Even in practice, there are bodies out there, slots you have to fit the ball into. Short of them putting up 11 dummies, he's not going to come close to that."

Farrell said LeMay already has been hampered by his situation, missing many camps and clinics he would have attended this summer.

"Quarterbacks need the repetition," he said.

Farrell worries whether LeMay will no longer get invitations to all-star games. And while on the one hand, he needs the work, on the other, he'd be throwing against guys who have been playing full speed all fall.

"I just worry a kid who hasn't taken a hit for a full season, stepping into that situation," Farrell said. "He could get injured."

LeMay's family, which lost an appeal to have his suspension reduced over the summer, said transferring may not have enabled him to graduate in December.

It is unclear where LeMay will earn credits this fall. The family, in a text to the Charlotte Observer, said he would do so in a "private setting."

The LeMay family statement would not be specific about their son's "discretion," only to say that, "it doesn't involve drugs, weapons or any form of violence."

Butler certainly will miss its star quarterback, though the perennial power always has a lot of star players. This year, the team is ranked No. 23 in the preseason RivalsHigh Top 100 ranking.

"It hurts anytime you lose a three-year starter at any position," Butler head coach Mike Newsome said earlier this summer of the possible loss of LeMay. "In high school football, it is something else altogether when it is your quarterback."

But RivalsHigh senior analyst Dallas Jackson says the team may not suffer as much as some might think.

"While the team is certainly better with LeMay and will miss him on the field, the Bulldogs had been preparing to go without him for months," Jackson said. "Riley Ferguson, who is just a sophomore, should be an adequate replacement. From seeing him this summer, it would not be a surprise if he had early Division I offers heading his way. The team also got stronger with redistricting as it picking up several very solid players from nearby East Mecklenburg High School."

The University of Georgia, meanwhile, is not allowed to comment on student-athletes until they have signed an official letter of intent, which LeMay can not do until National Signing Day in February. But LeMay's family said their son's commitment to Georgia - and Georgia's commitment to their son - remains strong.

"We have continued healthy communications with (Georgia) coaches and the commitment remains the same on both ends," the statement said.

Farrell isn't surprised.

"This is a good kid," he said. "He's going to learn from this. He's going to be OK. Georgia fans shouldn't worry.

"I've seen this enough where I don't think this is going to hurt him; I just think it's going to slow him down a bit."

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