Cameron Hudson, one of North Georgia’s best running backs, and hard-hitting linebacker Jon Michael Padgett have withdrawn from Murray County High School and say they have enrolled at Dalton High.

Hudson, a 5-foot-9-inch, 150-pound speedster, set two records and tied one in his sophomore season while helping the Indians reach the 2005 Class 4A state playoffs. His 1,203 yards rushing was the second-highest single-season total in school history. He was selected to The Daily Citizen’s All-Area team last December.

The 5-foot-10-inch, 210-pound Padgett, who will be a senior this fall, had 46 tackles — three for minus-yardage — 44 assists, one caused fumble and ranked second with 122 points in the Indians’ defensive points system in his junior season.

“2005 was a great season for me and our team and I loved playing football with all those guys,” Hudson said Thursday. “I’ll miss everyone but I’m doing the right thing. This is all about being happy and doing the best thing for me as a student and an athlete.”

Hudson said his parents, Billy and Lisa Hudson, have leased a condominium off Dug Gap Road and plan to move in this weekend.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time,” Hudson said. “When the coaches found out, (head) coach (Bill) Napier and coach (Steve) Sparks talked to me and I thought I would stay at Murray County. But I started thinking about it again and made the decision to transfer.”

Padgett said his parents, Mike and Susan Padgett, will make the required change of residence, as well. His father has leased a house near Dalton High and the lease went into effect Thursday.

“It’s all by the book, I guarantee you that,” said Mike Padgett, who attended Dalton High from 1976-80 and played in two state football championship games for coach Bill Chappell as a linebacker. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ve got our change of residence on record at Dalton High and it has been notarized. We had to have all that done before we enrolled Jon Michael.”

Dalton football coach Ronnie McClurg neither confirmed nor denied Hudson and Padgett would attend Dalton and play for the Catamounts this coming season.

“They’re not on our football team until we hit the field and I see them in red and white,” McClurg said. “There are a lot of rumors going around. We’ll accept any kid in our system that’s a good person, a good student, and they’ll get a quality education at Dalton High School.

“As for these two young men, I have no comment. If they’re coming, they’ll be treated like any other Dalton student and have the same type opportunities. Our weight room is open to our students on a voluntary basis on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”

Hudson and Padgett said they plan to participate in summer workouts with other members of the Dalton football team starting Monday evening.

When contacted Thursday afternoon for comment, Napier said, “No thanks.”

The rivals play next season on Sept. 8 in Chatsworth in what will be the second game for both schools. Murray County will compete in Region 5B-5A for the next two school years. Dalton will remain in Region 7-4A.

That will take nothing from the fierce rivalry.

“I’ll be a little nervous going back over there (to Chatsworth),” said Hudson, who admitted that the Indians’ move up to Class 5A played a small part in his decision to transfer. “My friends on the Murray team understand why I’m doing this. In fact, some of them said if they could do the same thing they would. Some people are mad, but I’ll deal with that.

“Me and Jon Michael have hung out with some of the Dalton players like Preston Keck, Mackie Sheets, Brad Wilkerson and Tyler Wofford, and we even went out to eat. We got to know them pretty well. (Wednesday) I hung out with Harrison Scott and Ethan Bennett. They’re all good guys. They were talking about the workouts and going to a camp at Wofford.”

Last season Hudson turned in several remarkable performances as the high-scoring Indians streaked toward the postseason playoffs.

He set the single-season scoring record with 126 points that included 20 touchdowns, 17 coming on rushing plays. His 286 rushing yards set the single-game record, and his four touchdowns on runs of 40, 69, 4 and 77 yards in the same game fell one shy of the school mark. He tied a record with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the regular-season finale against Southeast.

His 1,203 yards rushing in 2005 were 11 shy of David Bejar’s school record set in 2001. Bejar played in 12 games that season.

Hudson amassed 1,614 all-purpose yards and missed one of the Indians’ 11 games with an injury. After two games, he had gained just 45 yards and did not have a touchdown.

In what turned out to be his final game for the Indians, a tough 28-22 loss at Rockdale County in the first round of the state playoffs, Hudson rushed for 156 yards with touchdown runs of 73 and 5 yards. He returned a kickoff 88 yards for another score.

Hudson got his chance to play on a full-time basis when starting tailback Jeremy Norman suffered a serious knee injury in Game 3 against Trion that kept him sidelined for the rest of the season, save an extra-point attempt against Rockdale County.

In the Trion game, Hudson was inserted into the lineup and rushed for 91 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-19 victory that followed season-opening losses to Rome and Cartersville.

Hudson said he also plans to compete with the Dalton High track team. He won the Region 7-4A 110 hurdles championship last month and qualified for the state meet, where he was disqualified for a false start.

Padgett actually entertained the thought of transferring to Dalton during the Christmas break in 2005, but decided to wait.

“But as soon as school let out, I withdrew from Murray and enrolled at Dalton,” he said. “It’s nothing personal against anybody at Murray. It’s just something that will be better for me in the long run.”

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