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ATLANTA -- More than 6,000 students transferred to Georgia high schools last year and played varsity sports, according to new numbers released by the Georgia High School Association. Three Gwinnett schools -- South Gwinnett, Duluth and Brookwood -- had the largest number of transferred athletes.

South Gwinnett High School's football season starts with a scrimmage two weekends from now. The team will include some students who transferred to South Gwinnett. But the team's coach, John Small, says the transferring students may not make much of a difference.

"We have a transient population here in South Gwinnett," Small said. "Sometimes you get a great players. Sometimes they're an average player, but they move here (because) they may be relocating with their parents or whatever it may be."

The record bears it out. Last year, South Gwinnett lost more football games than it won. Yet the school had 59 transfer student/athletes last school year -- the most of any school in Georgia, according to GHSA data, which was first reported by the Georgia High School Football Daily.

Transfers have become more of an issue as high schools have become more competitive, seeking championships and booster dollars. And as students and parents become more competitive, students often transfer seeking more playing time and college scholarships.

"I think every kid is looking for an opportunity. He may not be happy where he's at in the situation that he's in. He may think that (a different) school provides a better opportunity," Jones said.

The data doesn't show how many of the 6,000-plus student/athletes transferred to seek an opportunity -- or simply moved for family reasons to another residence served by another school.

At South Gwinnett, coach Small says any transferring football player gets a visit from a detective at his new home -- to verify he really lives in the district.