Published Sunday, January 20, 2013
By DOUG GORMAN
During his athletic career at The Heritage School, Candler Rich has handled pressure with the best of any player to suit up in a Hawks uniform.
Choosing a college, however, turned out to be much tougher.
After carefully weighing his options, Rich has verbally committed to play football at Yale.
“Anytime somebody you coached or feel like you had something to do with reaches a goal like that, it’s great. You, of course, are proud, but proud can’t explain it,” Heritage School coach Kevin Prisant said.
It appeared Rich — who was busy Friday helping Heritage School win a basketball game over Trinity Christian — was destined for an Ivy League education after choosing Yale over rival Harvard.
Princeton sent a representative for a visit. Prisant did his best to keep Rich closer to home — and his alma mater — by taking him for a visit to Georgia Southern, which also showed interest. But an Ivy League education was hard to pass up.
“What he has done on the football field, in the classroom, as a person, you don’t get those type players every year,” Prisant said. “He is a once-in-a-lifetime type of player.”
Rich rushed for 1,910 yards and 23 touchdowns during the 2012 season. He entered his senior season as the school’s all-time leading rusher.
The Hawks’ star running back kept it in the family breaking the all-time rushing record that had belonged to his brother Christopher.
Candler, who is the son of Dorothy and Jimmy Rich, also made his presence known by scoring touchdowns on defense and special teams, including five TDs on kick returns.
Rich helped the Hawks to a school best 11-2 record in 2012 and a trip to the GISA Class AAA state title game against Deerfield-Windsor.
“To see the weight lifted off his shoulder is great,” Prisant said. “He has been so stressed over this. His parents have been stressed. He has had to answer a million questions. I am just so happy to see him reach his goals of playing at an Ivy league school.”
Filling Rich’s shoes next year expects to be a tough task.
“Replacing Candler won’t be easy, but he has helped lift the program to a new level,” Prisant said. “Because of what he has done, other players will be able to see where hard work can get you.”
Rich will be the second football player from Heritage School to play at a Division I school. He'll join lineman Kyle Wilborn who finished a standout career on the offensive line for Troy. Wilborn capped his college football career on Saturday in the Raycom All-Star Classic.
Rich is one of several players from Coweta County who will sign Division I letters of intent next month joining Newnan’s Tray Matthews (Georgia) and Northgate teammates Brandon Facyson (Virginia Tech) and Sean Spencer (Navy).
Matthews and Facyson have already enrolled and will participate in spring practice.
Trinity Christian senior Drew Gibson is expected to commit to the Air Force this week after receiving several offers including one from Ivy League school Cornell.