Georgia’s Top School by Position

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Following our series of positional breakdowns of the top programs in the state of Georgia, the results are in. Score Atlanta’s Craig Sager II and Seth Ellerbee did a top 10 for eight different position groups (Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Receivers, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebackers, Defensive Backs and Specialists) that ranked the state’s top schools for each category. A total of 49 different programs made appearances in one or more top 10. In order to determine which schools performed the best overall, we applied a point system to compile the results. For example, North Gwinnett’s No. 1 ranking for Quarterbacks awards it 10 points. A No. 2 ranking results in nine points, a No. 3 ranking results in eight points and so on. Here are the final results.

37- North Gwinnett
30- Colquitt County
27- Grayson
23- Buford
21- Stephenson
19- Marist
17- McEachern
16- Norcross
15- Cartersville
14- Tucker
11- Marietta
11- Westlake
10- Milton
10- Sandy Creek
10- Westminster
9- Brunswick
9- Calhoun
9- Cedar Grove
9- Griffin
9- Peach County
9- Valdosta
8- Richmond Hill
8- Washington County
7- Athens Academy
7- Harrison
7- Walton
6- Blessed Trinity
6- Gainesville
6- Hillgrove
5- Archer
5- Brookwood
5- Lanier
5- Mays
4- Callaway
4- Lee County
4- Mill Creek
4- Rome
4- Sprayberry
3- Jones County
3- Kell
3- Parkview
2- Allatoona
2- Oconee County
2- Woodward Academy
1- Cedartown
1- Central Gwinnett
1- Creekside
1- Liberty County
1- Roswell


1. North Gwinnett: The North Gwinnett Bulldogs top the list as the No. 1 quarterback producing program in the state. From the 2008 season until this past season, the quarterback talent seen at the school is truly staggering. The team’s 2008 starter Michael Tamburo went on to play at Boise State. Junior C.J Uzomah quarterbacked the team the following season and passed for 1,750 yards and 15 touchdowns, and ran for 800 yards and 10 more touchdowns. Uzomah went on to play college football at Auburn and is now a starting tight end for the Cincinnati Bengals. Future Harvard quarterback Scott Hosch shared the starting role with Uzomah during the 2010 season and remained the starter his senior year in 2011—where he led the team to the quarterfinals. Six more college quarterbacks have graduated from the Bulldogs’ program in the time since with Michael Hanyes (Mercer), Hayden Sphire (Murray State), John Urzua (Middle Tennessee State), Cade Fortin (North Carolina), Jimmy Urzua (Mars Hill) and JR Martin (Elon).

2. Valdosta: The Wildcats come in at No. 2 on the list and have been a breeding ground for star quarterbacks for decades. As the all-time winningest high school football program in the entire nation, Valdosta has a fraternity of quarterbacks that have upheld the school’s historic success. This group of talented leaders and state championship passers includes University of Georgia quarterbacks Buck Belue, John Lastinger and Greg Talley in addition to John Bond (Mississippi State), Alton Histon (Georgia Southern), Seth Shuman (Georgia Southern) and last year’s starter Tate Rodemaker (Florida State). Belue was the first player to start all four years at quarterback for Valdosta, and helped lead Georgia to the 1980 National Championship. He also led the Valdosta baseball team to the state championship his senior year. Bond went on to be a four-year starter and an All-American at quarterback for Mississippi State. Hitson quarterbacked the Wildcats to back-to-back state championships (1989 and 1990) before attending Georgia Southern. Lastinger was the quarterback of Nick Hyder’s first state championship team in 1978. Once at Georgia, he led the Bulldogs to the Sugar Bowl and the Cotton Bowl in his two seasons as a starter. Josh Belton, who quarterbacked Valdosta to its 24th all-time state title in 2016 is now at Mississippi Delta.

3. Cartersville: The Purple Hurricanes have been the state’s most successful program over the past eight seasons and the program’s three starting quarterbacks over the same span is a leading factor. Cartersville has gone 79-1 in the last eight regular seasons and has won 93 games with two state championships in that period. The quarterback of the Canes in 2012 and 2013 was Brooks Barden, who played under his father Frank Barden before earning a scholarship to play at Charlotte. After Barden’s graduation, Joey King was hired as head coach and he would have freshman Trevor Lawrence ready to lead Cartersville for the next four years. Lawrence, became the No. 1 prospect in the country and left Cartersville having broken every state passing record—with 13,908 career passing yards and 161 touchdowns. Lawrence took Clemson to the 2018 National Championship and will be one of the top picks of the 2021 NFL Draft. Cartersville didn’t skip a beat after the graduation of Lawrence in 2018. Class of 2020 passer Tee Webb stepped in as the starter and led Cartersville to back-to-back perfect regular seasons and a 26-2 overall record. Webb is set to attend Louisville this fall.

4. Harrison: Defending Class AAAAAA state champion Harrison has become a hotbed of nationally-recognized quarterback talent over the years. The Hoyas started playing football in 1992 and were led by the late Bruce Cobleigh for the program’s first 12 seasons. Future Georgia Bulldog Daniel Cobb was an AJC Super 11 Selection in the 1996 season and the first prominent quarterback to lead the program. Zack MacDowell was Cobb County Quarterback of the Year in 2004 and 2005 and threw for 4,085 yards on 64 percent passing with 52 touchdowns in his two years as the Hoyas’ starter. MacDowell went on to play at Wake Forest before transferring to Coastal Carolina. After MacDowell, the program has been led by dual-threat quarterback Lorenzo Nunez who would go on to play at South Carolina, and former five-star and current Ohio State starting quarterback Justin Fields. This past season, Class of 2020 quarterback Gavin Hall led the Hoyas to a perfect 15-0 season and first-ever state title as the starter. He is now heading to Toledo.

5. Gainesville: The Red Elephants had a remarkable string of quarterback success spanning from 2008-2014 that is worth further examining. This impressive run started in 2008 with Blake Sims at quarterback. Sims led Gainesville to a 14–1 record and a state runner-up finish—throwing for 2,785 yards as a junior in 2008 while rushing for 822 yards and 15 scores. As a senior, he threw for 2,288 yards with 28 touchdowns and rushed for 863 yards and 13 touchdowns. Following Sims graduation, DeShaun Watson stepped in as a freshman. During his varsity career, Watson led Gainesville to its first-ever state title and set numerous state records, including total yards (17,134), total touchdowns (218), career passing yards (13,077), and career passing touchdowns (155). He also rushed for 4,057 yards and 63 touchdowns. Watson, of course, would go on to lead Clemson to the National Title in 2016 before getting drafted to the Houston Texans in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. As for Sims, he quarterbacked at Alabama and would later play quarterback in the Canadian Football League and the NFL. After the Sims and Watson-led seasons at Gainesville, the Red Elephants saw senior and first-time starter Mikey Gonzalez step in to quarterback them for the 2014 season. Gonzalez had big shoes to fill and did a remarkable job in keeping the Red Elephants’ offense on track. In his lone season as the starter, Gonzalez threw for 3,160 yards and 38 touchdowns and earned Area Player of the Year. Gainesville’s offense has struggled in the seasons since, but the program’s incredible run with Sims, Watson and Gonzalez is worth admiration.

6. Marietta: The Marietta Blue Devils have a trio of exceptional quarterbacks that have come through the program over the years. The first notable name is Eric Zeier—who can be considered one of the most coveted quarterback prospects to ever come out of the state. Zeier played his first two years of high school football in Heidelberg, Germany, where his father was a U.S. Army colonel. His family made the decision to have him attend Marietta under head coach Dexter Wood, who would build his offense around his new star. In his two seasons as a Blue Devil, Zeier threw for 4,502 yards and 50 touchdowns. He was the consensus No. 1 quarterback prospect in the nation, a first-team USA Today All-America and Super Prep magazine’s national player of the year. Zeier went to the University of Georgia and became the SEC’s all-time passing leader with 11,153 yards—a record which has been surpassed only by Peyton Manning, David Greene and Aaron Murray. After Zeier, Marietta’s next major quarterback star was current Blue Devils wide receiver coach Labrone Mitchell. Before becoming a coach at his alma mater, Mitchell was a successful three-year starter for the Blue Devils from 1994 to 1996. He compiled a 35-5 record in his three seasons and three region titles before receiving a full scholarship to the University of Georgia where he was a two-year starter. As talented as Zeier and Mitchell were, Marietta’s starter these last four seasons, Harrison Bailey, shares their incredible potential. Bailey led Marietta to the program’s first-ever state title this past season and put up a whopping 4,674 passing yards, with 50 touchdowns. The All-American Bailey is currently enrolled at Tennessee and is expected to earn the Vols’ starting role. Marietta also had four-star Class of 2013 quarterback Anthony Jennings come through the program. Jennings, would go on to start games for LSU before joining the Louisiana Rajin Cajuns.

7. Colquitt County: The Colquitt County program has been a nationally-ranked powerhouse over the last decade—always contending for state titles and succeeding against a schedule packed with the top programs around. This high standard of success has been made possible by consistent leadership and play at the quarterback position. In just the last eight graduating classes, Colquitt County has produced a great group of passers. Cole Seagraves was a Class of 2013 three-star prospect that split time with Daniel Mobley during the Packers’ 11-4 run in 2012. Mobley passed for 2,492 yards as a senior in 2013 as Colquitt County finished 11-3. Following Mobley, Chase Parrish stepped in and led Colquitt to back-to-back state titles in 2014 and 2015. During his senior season Parrish passed for 3,501 yards and 40 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Parrish currently plays for Navy. Colquitt County’s next starter was Jay Saunders and he signed a baseball scholarship with GCSU. Class of 2018 passer Steven Krajewski earned a scholarship to play quarterback at UConn and Class of 2020 graduate Jaycee Harden signed with Valdosta State after his two years spent starting for the Packers.

8. Grayson: The Grayson Rams are near the pace of North Gwinnett when it comes to producing college quarterbacks in the last several seasons and the trend can be expected to continue. Class of 2012 passer Nick Schuessler walked on at Clemson after signing with Mississippi State and eventually earned a scholarship with the Tigers, becoming the team’s second-string quarterback. Grayson’s next starter was Chase Brice and he attended Clemson before transferring to Duke. After Brice, D.J. Irons took over the Rams starting job and earned Region 8-AAAAAAA Offensive Player of the Year. Irons is now quarterbacking at Iowa Central. Three-star CJ Dixon went 11-2 as the Rams’ starter this past season and picked up 11 total offers. Now, the program has former McEachern quarterback Carlos Del Rio set to start for the Rams in 2020. Del Rio is a four-star recruit that is ranked as the No. 11 quarterback in the country for the Class of 2021 and is currently committed to Florida.

9. Oconee County: Oconee County has had big names at the quarterback position emerge in the last decade. The program’s 2009 graduate Zach Mettenberger went on to play at the University of Georgia and LSU before spending three seasons in the NFL. After Mettenberger, Oconee County had Zeb Noland, the son of current head coach Travis Noland under center. As a senior, Zeb was named 2015 Region 8-AAA Player of the Year. He passed for 1,627 yards and 17 touchdowns and led the Warriors to their first region title since 2004. Zeb went on to play for Iowa State before transferring to North Dakota State in 2019 for his junior season. Oconee County’s most recent star quarterback is Class of 2020 graduate Max Johnson, who earned national attention over the course of his career. The 6-foot-5 Johnson is the son of former Super Bowl XXXVII winner and two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Brad Johnson. Max led Oconee County to the Class AAAA state finals this past season and is now enrolled at defending National Champion LSU.

10. Central Gwinnett: The Black Knights have had three college quarterbacks emerge from the program in the last three seasons. Class of 2018 graduate and U.S. Army All-American Jaren Williams is now at the University of Miami. Class of 2019 graduate Justin Fomby signed with the Norther Iowa Panthers the following year and last year’s starter Skylar Adams signed with Clarke Atlanta. It is worth pointing out that this past season, freshman quarterback Justin Johnson had to fill in for Adams when the Black Knights faced Lanier in non-region action. The Class of 2023 prospect completed 15-of-22 attempts with a pair of touchdowns—showcasing the school’s ability to groom quarterbacks for the spotlight.

1. Milton

Milton tops the list and has produced a stall of top-tier running backs in the past decade that rival many programs in the state. The culmination of Milton’s running game was solidified by quarterback Jordan Yates, currently at Georgia Tech, when the Eagles won the 2018 Class AAAAAAA State Championship 14-13 over Colquitt County. The Eagle offense, built on the ground, helped the more recent backs thrive. Josh Edwards carried the ball 212 times during the 2018 season for 1,134 yards and 19 touchdowns during the championship run. He plays at Arkansas State. Arguably the most successful back to come from Milton, Peyton Barber, rushed for 1,700 yards his senior season with more than 20 touchdowns. Barber played at Auburn from 2013-2016 and started in 2015 with 238 carries for 1,017 yards and 13 touchdowns. In 2016, Barber declared for the NFL Draft and was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he spent four seasons before signing with the Washington Redskins on a 2-year, $3 million contract in March. Treyvon Paulk, a 2017 graduate, rushed for over 3,000 yards in high school and played at Tennessee and Samford. 2018 graduate Soloman Vanhorse rushed for 1,250 yards and 10 touchdowns his senior season without a fumble and currently plays at James Madison. Clark-Atlanta signee Ahmad Junearick rushed for 14 touchdowns during his senior season in 2019. The Eagles have another up-and-coming back, Jordan McDonald (2022), who already has ten power 5 offers at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds.

2. Colquitt County

Colquitt County rushed to back-to-back state championships in 2014-15 with a national championship in 2015. During the back-to-back state titles, Colquitt running back Sihiem King led the way. In his senior season in 2015, King rushed for 2,090 yards and 37 touchdowns while rushing for 139.3 yards per game. King played four years at the University of Kentucky where he played in 40 games. In more recent years, the Packers have produced two of the best backs to ever pass through Moultrie in the so-called ‘two-headed monster’ of Ty Leggett and Daijun Edwards. The prolific duo helped lead Colquitt to back-to-back state title appearances in 2017 and 2018 and were called the ‘best backs in the state, bar none’ by, at the time, head coach Rush Propst. In 2017, Leggett and Edwards combined for 2,325 yards and 25 touchdowns. In his junior year in 2018, Edwards, a UGA signee, led with 1,480 yards and 26 touchdowns on 227 carries. Leggett, a senior in 2018, rushed for 984 yards and 16 touchdowns to complement Edwards. Leggett currently is on the roster at Georgia Military college in Milledgeville. As a senior, Edwards rushed for 1,008 yards and 11 touchdowns before Colquitt lost to Parkview in the second round.

3. Buford

From 2001-2019, Buford has won 11 state championships and a large portion of that success can be credited to outstanding running backs from year to year. The Wolves’ recent history of producing outstanding backs can be traced back to the trend set by Darius Walker, the 2003 Gatorade Player of the Year. Walker rushed for 5,676 yards and 91 touchdowns during his tenure at Buford through a four-year span where the Wolves won three state championships (2001, 2002, 2003) and went 58-2, including a 45-game winning streak. During his senior year, Walker broke Herschel Walker’s single-season touchdown record (42) when he rushed for 46. Walker continued his career at Notre Dame where he played in 36 games with 593 carries, 3,249 yards and 17 touchdowns. He owns the school record for most receptions by a running back (56) set in 2006. The trend continued with Seon Jones, a 2011 graduate, who owns the Buford rushing record for yards in a single game (313) which he set in 2010 in a 37-14 victory against Lovett. In the record-setting performance, Jones had 15 carries and scored on runs of 85 and nine yards. Three-star recruit Anthony Grant, a 2018 graduate and current Florida State player, helped lead Buford to a region title and an appearance in the Class AAAAA state semifinal his senior season. He was named First-Team in Class AAAAA and an All-State athlete by the Georgia Sports Writers Association. Grant was voted the All-Region 8 Georgia Class AAAAA Player of the Year that season. Most recently, four-star recruit Derrian Brown, currently at the University of Texas, led the Buford rushing game. As a senior in 2018, he carried the ball 246 times for 1,897 yards with 27 touchdowns.

4. Norcross

The production of Alvin Kamara, one of the most successful backs in state history, brings Norcross into the top 5 on this list. During his junior season in 2011, Kamara rushed for 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns. In his senior season in 2012, he helped the Blue Devils win their first state championship after a 21-14 victory over Lovejoy. During his senior year, Kamara rushed for 2,264 yards and 26 touchdowns with 22 receptions for 286 yards and five touchdowns. He earned Georgia Mr. Football honors from the AJC and was the Class AAAAAA Player of the Year. He was rated the No. 1 all-purpose back by 247Sports as a senior and the No. 5 player in Georgia. He signed with Alabama but endured a rough experience with surgery before the season along with some behavioral issues. He transferred to Hutchinson Community College in 2014 and then to the University of Tennessee in 2015 where he increased his star power. Kamara was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In his three seasons in the NFL, Kamara has played in 45 games and started 25 with 485 carries for 2,408 yards and 27 touchdowns in the regular season. In five postseason games, he has 52 carries for 173 yards and a touchdown.

5. Walton

Kyle Vorster set the standard for running backs moving through the Walton program. As a senior in 2010, he rushed for 1,358 yards on 224 carries, scoring 18 touchdowns. Due to his upbringing, raised by his father Marius who trained rugby players in South Africa, Vorster expanded from 135 pounds to 206 pounds and became the driving force behind Walton’s running backs corps. In 2012, Vorster signed with Georgia State before transferring to Ouachita Baptist in 2013. The next in line was four-star recruit Tyren Jones who was the Class AAAAAA offensive player of the year as a junior in 2011 when he rushed for nearly 2,400 yards and 33 touchdowns. The next big back was 2016 graduate Karekin Brooks who was named First-Team All-Region in 2015. He attended Penn where he was a member of the 2016 Ivy League champion team. He earned 2018 Second Team All-Ivy honors and was a 2017 Honorable Mention All-Ivy team member. He set Penn’s single-season yards-per-carry records in 2017 with 6.7 yards. He was named to the 2019 First Team All-Ivy team. He is third in program history with 2,847 career rushing yards and sixth in program history with 26 career rushing touchdowns and second in program history with 5.5 yards-per-carry. Jaelin Bumper, a 2017 graduate, signed with North Carolina A&T and then transferred to Indiana State. The next in line was D.J. Soyoye, who rushed for 1,189 yards on 195 carries and 14 touchdowns during his junior season in 2017. In 2018, he rushed for 1,006 yards and seven touchdowns on 161 carries. Most recently, 2020 graduates K.D. Stokes and Julian Bumper (Elon), led the Walton running backs corps.

6. Blessed Trinity

In the past five years, Blessed Trinity has produced notable quality backs that have aided in their success in capturing the past three state championships in Class AAAA. Milton Shelton, a 2016 graduate, helped lead the younger core of rushers that began winning state titles in 2017 and have not stopped. In his senior season, Shelton rushed for 2,059 yards and 28 touchdowns on 256 carries. During Shelton’s senior year, a budding freshman watched and learned – Steele Chambers. Chambers carried the ball 25 times as a freshman and scored two touchdowns. Chambers, a four-star recruit now at Ohio State, rushed for 1,680 yards and 25 touchdowns his senior season in 2018. In 2017, the first of BT’s three-straight titles, Chambers and sophomore Elijah Green combined for 33 touchdowns and nearly 1,650 rushing yards. Green, a 2020 graduate, signed with North Carolina and as a senior in 2019, he rushed for 1,646 yards and 21 touchdowns on 200 carries. The trend of quality running backs will undoubtedly continue for the Titans. Their stud freshman back Justice Haynes led the program with 205 carries, 1,754 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2019.

7. Callaway

Several quality backs in recent years have thrust the Cavaliers to seventh on the poll but one name stands a bit above the rest. His name is Cartavious Bigsby, but you can call him ‘Tank’. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound back led Callaway to the state semifinals in his senior season in 2019 while rushing for 1,636 yards and 27 touchdowns. In 2018, he was the Class AA State an Region Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 2,221 yards and finishing with another semifinal exit. The AJC Super 11 selection was rated as one of the nation’s top running backs during his senior season. He committed to Auburn in August of 2019. Cedric Maynard, a 2016 graduate, plays at Tennessee State and helped lead the Cavaliers to a second-round appearance in his senior season. He rushed for 252 carries, 2,415 yards and 26 touchdowns during his senior season in 2015. Devon Rosser (Kennessaw State) rushed for 10 touchdowns in his senior year. Eddie Culpepper had 183 carries for 1,566 yards and 17 touchdowns his senior season and 122 carries for 1,252 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. In 2016 and 2017, DJ Atkins had 465 carries for 3,416 yards and 24 touchdowns. Three-star recruit Charlie Dixon is the next big thing for Callaway. The junior is rated as the No. 199 RB in the nation, but that number is set to improve.

8. Parkview

Parkview football has produced numerous quality backs in the past decade and, coupled with its successes in the early 2000’s, the Panthers come in at No. 8 on the list. Its latest big-name back must be three-star back Chris Carson, who is No. 5 at Parkview for career rushing yards with 2,246. In 2012, Carson averaged 6.3 yards per carry. He played two seasons at Butler Community College in Kansas before transferring to Oklahoma State where he played two seasons. He was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft and has played in 33 games with 574 carries, 2,589 yards and 16 touchdowns. Christian Malloy, a 2018 graduate, set the Parkview record for most yards in a game with 316 in 2017. He rushed for the fourth-most yards in a career with 2,301 yards in 2016-17 after transferring into the Parkview program. He was the MVP of the Adidas Freshman All-American game in 2014. He enrolled at Georgia Tech in 2018 and entered the transfer portal this May. Cody Brown, a 2021 graduate and Tennessee commit, is Parkview’s latest stud in the backfield. The four-star recruit rushed for 1,676 yards and 20 touchdowns on 214 carries his junior season. As a sophomore, he rushed for 1,558 yards and 25 touchdowns.

9. Woodward Academy

Elijah Holyfield. Enough said. The son of Evander and a running machine pushed Woodward into the top 10. As a senior in 2016, Holyfield rushed for 1,069 yards on 151 carries with 23 touchdowns. He had nine receptions as a senior for 102 yards and was not charged with a single fumble during his high school varsity career. Holyfield, rated as a four-star recruit by 247Sports, committed to UGA in 2015 and began his career as a true freshman. As a sophomore at UGA, Holyfield rushed 50 times for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Following his junior season, Holyfield decided to forego his senior year and enter the NFL Draft where he signed with the Carolina Panthers practice squad. He was signed to the Philadelphia Eagles active roster on the last day of 2019. Three-star recruit Tahj Gary, a 2019 graduate and current Virginia Tech Hokie, is the latest Woodward player to light up the backfield. As a senior, he rushed for 1,219 yards and 13 touchdowns with 27 receptions and seven receiving touchdowns. Gary shared the backfield with Marietta back Kimani Vidal before Vidal transferred to the Blue Devils. The Woodward trend continues with Damari Alston who led the team with 889 rushing yards last season and has a long list of offers as a sophomore.

10. Cedartown

Can one single player bring a program into this list? The short answer… yes. Nick Chubb was a two-sport star for the Bulldogs in both track and football. On the football field during his senior season in 2013, Chubb rushed for 2,690 yards and 41 touchdowns while averaging 244.5 yards per game. In 2012, he rushed for 2,721 yards. Throughout his high school career, he rushed for 6,983 yards and 102 rushing touchdowns. Ranked as a four-star recruit in 2014, he committed to UGA to play for coach Mark Richt behind Todd Gurley. In his career at Georgia, he played in 47 games, carried the ball 758 times for 4,768 yards and 44 touchdowns. Chubb was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft and signed a four-year rookie contract worth $7.4 million with a $3.4 million signing bonus. In his two seasons in the league, Chubb has played in 32 games and rushed for 2,490 yards and 16 touchdowns. If Chubb put Cedartown on the map for classic running backs, Kobe Pryor, a Clemson signee, kept it there. He is rated as a four-star recruit by ESPN and Rivals and a three-star recruit by 247Sports. During his senior season in 2019, Pryor rushed for 1,4571 yards on 211 carries with 12 touchdowns. He also caught two touchdown passes and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

1. Stephenson: No school in the state can match Stephenson when it comes to producing NFL linebackers. The DeKalb County-based school opened its doors for the first time in 1996 and quickly became a hotbed of exceptional linebackers. Anthony Cannon was the first Jaguar linebacker to reach the NFL ranks when his name was called in the 2006 draft following his career at Tulane. In 2010, Perry Riley was taken in the fourth round and his former Stephenson and LSU teammate Kelvin Sheppard was drafted the following year in the third round. Riley and Sheppard’s old varsity teammate Marcus Ball was the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year, and after attending Memphis, Ball was able to make his NFL dream a reality with the Saints in 2014. Preston Smith attended Mississippi State and was taken in the second round of the 2015 draft and Montez Sweat was a first round pick in the 2019 draft after his career at Mississippi State.

2. Griffin: Class of 2019 Griffin linebacker Larry Corbin is now playing at Murray State and is the latest talented Bear linebacker to come through the program. Griffin’s other notable linebackers include Atlanta Falcons and Valdosta State legend Jessie Tuggle, former Georgia Bulldogs Chris Clemons and Charlie Clemons, in addition to Jeff Jackson (Auburn) and Ben Talley—giving the school five former linebackers that have reached the NFL.

3. Washington County: The Golden Hawks have a rich tradition of linebacker talent that can be traced back almost three decades. Demetro Stevens was the first WaCo linebacker to earn DPOY in 1993. Next, Takeo Spikes earned back-to-back Player of the Year honors and starred at linebacker for Auburn before going in the first round of the 1998 draft. The program has also produced Jessie Miller (Georgia) and Brandon Watts (Georgia Tech) who was taken in the 2014 draft. Will Coneway earned Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and went on to play at Mercer. Class of 2018 Washington County linebacker Preston Daniels is now at Kennesaw State where he has switched to running back.

4. Tucker: Tucker High School is a college football pipeline and has dozens of alumni suiting up across the college landscape each season. The Tigers’ have been particularly loaded at the linebacker position in recent years and its Class of 2018 incredibly saw a total of five linebackers earn college scholarships. This group included four-star Michael Harris (Auburn), Gerry Vaugh (Iowa State), Tre Leslie (Western Kentucky), Cam’Ron Carter (Colorado State) and Antonio Showers (Troy).

5. Grayson: The Grayson football program is notorious for its speed, physicality and college-ready talent on the defensive side of the ball and the Rams have had incredible linebackers come through the program. Terry Williams was a first-team All-State linebacker before attending East Carolina where he switched to a defensive tackle. Class of 2010 grad Michael Peek signed with N.C. State and then Wayne Gallman earned a scholarship to Clemson. While at Clemson, Gallman switched to running back and he is currently on the New York Giants roster. Class of 2014 linebackers Daniel Fennell (South Carolina) and Mohamed Berry (Nebraska) each landed on college rosters and Breon Dixon, a four-star Class of 2016 linebacker joined Berry at Nebraska. Five-star Owen Pappoe earned Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 and is now playing at Auburn. Grayson’s Class of 2019 also included linebacker Allen Smith (Louisville). Class of 2021 prospect Grady Bryant will help anchor the Rams’ defense in 2020 after earning Honorable Mention this past season.

6. Lanier: Lanier High School opened in 2010 and pulled students from North Gwinnett and the Sugar Hill area to form its first student body. In its first decade, the football program has blossomed into one of the state’s top producers of college football talent. Class of 2013 linebacker Izzy Sam was amongst the first graduates from the new school and he went on to become a starting linebacker for Kennesaw State. The Class of 2017 saw linebackers Juwuan Jones (Western Kentucky) and Tyler Taylor (LSU) emerge from the program. In 2018 Kameron Brown was named Defensive Player of the Year before signing to play with Auburn. This past season, Class of 2020 linebacker Phillip Webb won Defensive Player of the Year and signed with LSU—giving the program back-to-back years of SEC-bound linebackers winning Defensive Player of the Year.

7. Lee County: The Trojans have been one of the toughest defensive teams in the state over the last decade with a steady stream of tremendous linebackers helping to lead the way. Recently, Dextric Green was an Albany Herald Dynamite Dozen selection in 2013. After Green, Akileis Leroy (FAU), Quin Geer (Georgia Southern) and Otis Reese (Georgia) have come through the program. Additionally, Class of 2021 linebacker Baron Hopson earned Honorable Mention for his play this past season and is a three-star prospect.

8. Colquitt County: The Packers’ last six graduating classes have a strong group of linebackers. Bull Barge was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and went on to play at South Alabama, while teammate Quinton Hampton signed with UCF before signing with Wagner. In the years since, Colquitt County has seen Dee Walker (Arkansas), Rashard Revels (UAB), J.J. Peterson (Tennessee) and Class of 2020 three-star Ty French come through the program.

9. Peach County: The Trojans’ linebacking corps featured one of the top prospects in the country over the last few seasons with Sergio Allen. The Class of 2020 four-star recruit was ranked as the No. 12 inside linebacker in the nation for his class and signed with Clemson. Peach County has also had talented linebackers like JaQuez Jackson (Troy), Luke Crowell and Darius Dewberry. Crowell knocked down a two-point conversion pass after Gainesville scored a touchdown with no time left and preserved Peach County’s 13-12 victory in the 2009 Class AAA State Championship. Dewberry was the No. 1 ranked inside linebacker in the country for the Class of 2006 and went on to play at Georgia.

10. Creekside: The Creekside Seminoles have provided Georgia Tech with an incredibly talented linebacker tandem with its recent graduating class. Class of 2020 linebackers Khatavian Franks and Tyson Meiguez both attained three-star ratings during their varsity careers and signed to play for the Jackets. Franks was considered the No. 19 inside linebacker in the country for the Class of 2020 and Meiguez was ranked as the nation’s No. 37 rated outside linebacker.

1. Westlake – Westlake’s prowess for producing pro-level defensive backs is staggering. Beginning with Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones and Sean Jones in the early 2000’s, Westlake has not stopped. ‘Pacman’ played college football at West Virginia and was drafted in 2005 by the Tennessee Titans as the sixth overall pick. Sean Jones was drafted in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns and played with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The trend continued at Westlake and over the recent years, the Lions have produced countless defensive backs including A.J. Terrell (c/o 2017 — Clemson, Atlanta Falcons), Ronnie Blackmon (c/o 2016 — Colorado), Myles Farmer (c/o 2019 — Nebraska), Joel Girtman (c/o 2019 — Mercer), Tre Person (c/o 2017 — Michigan State), Darius Robinson (c/o 2010 — Clemson), Tyrese Ross (c/0 2018 — Washington State), Myles Sims (c/o 2018 — Georgia Tech) and Micah Robinson (c/o 2020 — Furman commit).

2. Brunswick – In recent history, Brunswick has placed three defensive backs into the NFL beginning with Darius Slay. He was named All-State by the AJC at defensive back following his senior season and was also chosen for the Georgia North-South All-Star Game. He attended Itawamba Community College before transferring to Mississippi State. Slay was selected in the second round (36th pick) by the Detroit Lions in the 2013 NFL Draft and was recently traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. Justin Coleman, a 2011 graduate, was rated as the No. 17 cornerback in the nation during his senior year. The four-star recruit played at the University of Tennessee from 2011-14 and played in all 12 games as a true freshman. He was signed by the Minnesota Vikings in 2015 and has played with the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and is currently on the Detroit Lions’ roster. Walker, a 2013 graduate, played at Louisiana before being selected in the third round (82nd pick) of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.

3. Stephenson – Beginning with Class of 2002 four-star recruit DeMario Minter, Stephenson’s defensive back alumna are deep. Minter was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL Draft and played with the Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals and Florida Tuskers. Next up, 2010 graduate Kenny Ladler, a three-star recruit out of high school, played at Vanderbilt and was signed by the Buffalo Bills. He has played for the Edmonton Eskimos, the Washington Redskins, the BC Lions and the New York Giants. Kadetrix Marcus, a 2011 graduate, played for the University of South Carolina. Carlito Gonzalez graduated in 2017 and took his talents to the University of Memphis as a three-star recruit.

4. Tucker – Tucker’s ability to produce top-tier DB’s was recently solidified by 2015 graduate Duke Shelley, who played at Kansas State and was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 2019 NFL Draft. He was rated as the 22nd best cornerback in his class out of high school and made 165 tackles and eight interceptions at Kansas State. 2009 grad A.J. Bouye played at the University of Central Florida, and was then signed by the Houston Texans in 2013. He has played for the Texans, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Denver Broncos. Nieko Thorpe graduated from Tucker in 2008 as a four-star recruit and played college ball at Auburn. He was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent and has played for the Toronto Argonauts, the Oakland Raiders, the Indianapolis Colts and the Seattle Seahawks. Asher Allen is another pro-player to come out of Tucker. Allen, a four-star recruit out of high school, played for the University of Georgia and then with the Seattle Seahawks.

5. North Gwinnett – Most recently, three-star 2019 graduate Warren Burrell has led the North Gwinnett defensive back corps. He enrolled at the University of Tennessee and started in four games as a true freshman. Class of 2015 graduate Jaye Stackhouse left North Gwinnett as a three-star recruit bound for the University of North Carolina. Taylor Goodson, a 2020 graduate, will take his defensive talents to Mercer while another up-and-coming DB will continue the trend with four-star Jordan Hancock committed to Clemson.

6. Archer – In recent history, Archer has produced several top-tier defensive backs and the group is led by the most recent star Andrew Booth. The five-star 2019 graduate committed to Clemson in 2018. He was a three-year starter in high school and tallied 162 tackles (131 solo) and had 13 interceptions. Another Clemson-bound player from Archer, Jalyn Phillips, was rated a three-star recruit when he graduated in 2019 and joined the Tigers as a safety. Taiyon Palmer led Archer as a four-star cornerback bound for North Carolina State. Safety Dylan Singleton, a 2016 graduate, was a four-star recruit in high school and played at Duke. Three-star safety Deondre Singleton, a 2013 graduate, played at Duke after committing in 2013.

7. Colquitt County – Three-star cornerback Jay Ward graduated in 2019 and went to LSU where, in his first season, he won a national championship when the Tigers beat Clemson in January 42-25. Shawn Shamburger was a three-star cornerback out of high school in 2017 before enrolling at the University of Tennessee. Tirise Barge, a 2017 graduate, plays for Tulane. Camari Louis, a 2019 graduate, left Colquitt and took his talents to Kennesaw State.

8. Kell – Kell has not had problems producing top-quality defensive backs in recent history. Brendon Langley, a 2013 graduate, was a four-star cornerback out of high school. He played at UGA and is currently on the Denver Broncos roster. Brian Randolph, an AJC Super 11 selection in 2010, played college football at Tennessee. As a true freshman, he played in 12 games and started eight with the Volunteers. After college, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Los Angeles Rams. Three-star safety Nick Ross, a 2019 graduate, is currently on the roster at Appalachian State.

9. Grayson – Grayson’s defensive backs corps is deep with the likes of four-star recruit Kenyatta Watson, a class of 2019 graduate who is playing at the University of Texas. The list continues…. Kasey Gaines (c/o 2013, Penn State), Kori Gaines (c/o 2010, BYU), Shattle Fenteng (c/o 2014, UGA), David Kamara (c/o 2013, Mississippi), Ryan Carter (c/o 2013, Clemson), DeAngelo Gibbs (c/o 2017, Tennessee, UGA), Jameyst Williams (c/o 2017 South Carolina, Georgia State), Demetrius Murray (c/o 2017, Ball St), Quintin Thames (Western Carolina), Ishmael Abdul (Savannah State), Jalen Alexander (Duke), Jeremiah Smith (Georgia Tech) and Mohammad Bakayoko (Alcorn State).

10. Liberty County – Can one player bring a program into the list? In short, yes. Richard LeCounte III. As a five-star recruit coming out of Liberty County in 2016, LeCounte could go anywhere in the nation. He was a two-sport star and in 2016, LeCounte, alongside Davion Mitchell, won the AAAA basketball state championship. On the football field, LeCounte played quarterback, safety and nearly any position in between. He committed to UGA in 2015 as a sophomore. He appeared in 10 games as a true freshman and made 15 tackles. As a junior in 2019, he started all 14 games with 61 tackles and an interception. LeCounte chose to return to UGA for his senior season rather than enter the NFL Draft.

1. Sandy Creek: Calvin Johnson is one of the greatest wide receivers in the history of football and his Hall of Fame career began at Sandy Creek High School where graduated in 2004. Johnson’s No. 81 was retired at the school in 2010—two years before he would set the NFL’s all-time single season receiving record with the Detroit Lions (122 catches, 1,964 yards). Johnson would end up playing nine seasons in the NFL before retiring in 2015. Throughout ‘Megatron’s’ exceptional career, and on into the present day, his alma mater Sandy Creek has seen a strong collection of star receivers come through the program. Class of 2006 wideout Brent Brewer was a three-star prospect that signed with Florida State, but eventually played baseball for Tennessee. Braxton Lane also was a 3-star prospect out of the Class of 2009 that signed with Oregon before playing baseball for the Texas Rangers. In 2011, Alex Chisum was named Offensive Player of the Year and went on to play receiver for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Jarrett Davis (Class of 2010) and Class of 2012 receiver JaQuay Williams both played at Louisville after their varsity careers. Class of 2014 All-American Demarre Kitt earned Offensive Player of the Year and put up a 74-catch, 1,235-yard and 11 touchdown season in 2012. More recently, Class of 2016 wide receiver Korey Banks received 25 offers before landing at South Carolina and converting to a defensive back. Class of 2020 grad Ahmad Jackson is continuing his career at Liberty after hauling in a team-high 1,191 yards and 11 touchdowns this past season. Also, All-American safety and Alabama signee Brian Branch exhibited his abilities at receiver this past season with his 61 catches, 1,107 yards and team-high 14 receiving touchdowns.

2. Calhoun: The Calhoun Yellow Jackets are without question one of the top wide receiver producing schools in the state. The program’s lineage of star wideouts can be traced back to the Class of 2006 when Kris Durham earned Offensive Player of the Year. Durham would go on to play at the University of Georgia and was taken in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Class of 2009 wide receiver Da’Rich Rogers put up a historic senior season in 2008. Rogers set a then-state record with his 84 catches, 1,647 yards and 22 receiving touchdowns. He was named to Georgia’s All-Decade team for the 2000’s and would go on to play for the Indianapolis Colts after suiting up for the Tennessee Vols. Calhoun has seen several more receivers put up massive statistical seasons in the years since. Class of 2011 wideout JT Palmer caught 71 passes for 1,133 yards and 13 touchdowns his senior season before earning a scholarship at Presbyterian College. Ben Lamb was a senior on Calhoun’s 2011 state championship squad and caught 71 passes for 1,008 yards and 14 touchdowns before continuing his career at West Georgia. During the 2012 season, Josh Barnes caught 94 receptions for 1,056 yards and five touchdowns and then the program had cousins Tydus and Chandler Curtis keeping the aerial attack going until they graduated in 2014. Chandler went on to become a starting wide receiver and kick returner at Mercer. The program’s astonishing depth at the position is worth additional context. Calhoun alum Rhett McGowan was able to walk-on at the University of Georgia for four seasons and contribute as a punt returner and receiver. During the 2013 season, he even caught a game-high seven passes for 90 yards and a touchdown in Georgia’s 59-17 win over Kentucky. More recently, Calhoun’s receiving corps has featured Class of 2019 standouts Brannon Spector and Luke Mosley. Spector is now playing a Clemson and Moseley is a redshirt freshman at Georgia Tech.

3. North Gwinnett: The North Gwinnett Bulldogs were the No. 1 team on my list of quarterback schools so it should not come as a surprise to see the school near the top of the wide receiver list. In just the last 15 graduating classes, North Gwinnett can be seen producing receivers at an ever-increasing rate. Jared Cook played wide receiver at the school and graduated in 2005. He went on to play at South Carolina and is now a 2-time Pro Bowl tight end that plays for the New Orleans Saints. In 2012, the passing game was led by Chad Scott, whose father Chuck played football at Vanderbilt before getting drafted in the second round of the 1985 NFL Draft. The younger Scott caught a then-school-record 71 passes for 890 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011 before signing with Furman. The receiving corps was even more loaded during the span of 2013-2015. Class of 2014 receivers Nate Brown and Caleb Scott combined for 1,857 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns as seniors during the 2013 season. Both went on to play in the SEC with Brown going to Missouri and Scott going to Vanderbilt. After their departure, brothers Daniel and Josh Imatorbhebhe were the next to star for the Bulldogs. Daniel went on to play at Southern Cal after transferring from Florida and Josh went from Southern Cal to Illinois. During the 2014 season, Josh caught 59 passes for 1,072 yards and 15 touchdowns. The most recent North Gwinnett receiver star is All-American Josh Downs—a lightning quick route runner, who graduated in 2020 and is heading to North Carolina.

4. Peach County: Powerhouse Peach County has an extremely impressive group of receivers that have come through the program. This group includes current Kansas City Chief Demarcus Robinson. Demarcus’ uncle Marcus was an All-American receiver, free safety and punter at Peach County in the 1990’s that went on to play football at South Carolina, the NFL and NFL Europe where he would be named League MVP in 1998. He ended his NFL career with 325 catches, 4,699 yards and 43 touchdowns. Jacquez Green played quarterback for Peach County early in his varsity career before making the switch to receiver and was drafted with the No. 34 overall pick in 1998 after suiting up for the Florida Gators. Peach County’s other notable receivers to come through the program include Chris Slaughter (Class of 2006, Auburn), Udom Umoh (Class of 2007, Vanderbilt), Lamar Zanders (Class of 2011, Valdosta State) in addition to Class of 2014 Tyler Gibson (Coffeyville) and Terkal Jefferson (West Georgia). The Class of 2018 sent four-star All-American Kearis Jackson to the University of Georgia and the Class of 2020 produced Army signee Dorrian Smith.

5. Marietta: The Marietta Blue Devils do not have the historical prowess at the position like some of the other programs on the list, but the unparalleled amount of wide receiver talent that has come through the program over the past couple of seasons is enough to give them a spot in the top 5. This placement does not reflect whether or not reigning National Player of the Year Arik Gilbert was technically a receiver or a tight end over the past three seasons. He caught 105 passes for 1,860 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2019 and is without a doubt one of the most dominant Georgia High School Football Players to ever come through the state. Gilbert deservingly received a lot of the attention over the past few seasons, but this occurred as some of the best receivers in the country were coming through the program. Ramel Keyton racked up 1,294 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2017 and graduated as an All-American in 2019 before heading to Tennessee. During Marietta’s run to its first-ever state championship this past season, Ricky White caught 103 passes for 1,519 yards and a team-high 19 touchdowns. Teammate Taji Johnson also had a monster season with 847 receiving yards and 123 touchdowns. White signed with Michigan State and Johnson signed with Boston College and Gilbert took his talents to LSU where he will play tight end.

6. Mays: The Mays Raiders have been one of the state’s top producers of wide receivers over the last several seasons. Class of 2013 grad DeAngelo Yancey played for Purdue following his varsity career and was taken in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. During the 2015 season, Mays receiver Randrecous Davis caught 58 passes for 1,024 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is currently a redshirt senior at South Carolina. Class of 2018 grad Amir Abdul-Rahmin also had a 17-touchdown senior season before joining Vanderbilt. Terrance Morton graduated from the program in 2019 and is now a redshirt freshman at West Georgia. Last season’s top wideout Zaire Thorton became a three-star prospect and signed with Tennessee State.

7. Cartersville: The Purple Hurricanes’ success at the receiver position has been strong over the past several seasons and continues to look bright. Class of 2014 receiver T.L. Ford earned a scholarship at Charlotte. Then in 2015, Terrius Callahan caught 62 passes for 1,224 yards and 16 touchdowns and signed with Austin Peay. Antoine Jefferson went on to play at Lindsey Wilson after graduating in 2017. Avery Showell graduated from the program in 2017 and is now a defensive back for Georgia Tech. Showell transferred to Cartersville for his senior season and contributed not only defensively, but also at receiver where he caught 44 passes for 17 touchdowns. This past season, Class of 2021 receiver Devonte Ross had a breakout campaign that saw him haul in 53 passes for 1,073 yards and 11 touchdowns.

8. Jones County: The Jones County Greyhounds are in their program’s Golden Age of receivers. This period starts 2016 All-State selection Tyler Storey and Class of 2017 graduate Nick Singleton. Singleton signed with Iowa Western Community College after finishing his varsity career top 10 in the state with 3,310 career yards. During his senior season in 2016, Singleton caught 19 touchdowns to go with 1,179 yards. Class of 2020 grad Jontavis Robertson signed a scholarship with Duke and hauled in 66 passes for 1,162 yards and nine touchdowns this past season. Robertson starred in the Greyhounds passing attack this past season with Class of 2021 prospect Maleek Wooten, who tallied 63 receptions, 972 yards and 12 touchdowns.

9. McEachern: Amba Etta-Tawo graduated from McEachern in 2012 and went on to play receiver for Syracuse and Maryland before suiting up in the pros; Etta-Tawo was on the New York Giants this past season. The next McEachern receiving star was current Miami Dolphin TJ Rahming, who played his college career at Duke. Class of 2017 grad Tyler Smith earned a scholarship to play at Colorado State. Class of 2021 receiver Dacari Collins was poised to be McEachern’s next top target until he transferred to Westlake for his junior season. Collins is currently a four-star prospect committed to Clemson. This past season, however, McEachern still had All-American Javon Baker to lead the receiving corps. Baker is considered the No. 20 overall prospect in the state for the Class of 2020 and he is set to play for Alabama this fall.

10. Walton: I am recognizing my alma mater on this list because of the receiver tandem of Dominick Blaylock and Kendall Alford that graduated in 2019 and what the future looks like for the Raiders. Prior to Blaylock and Alford, Walton was not seen as a school where top receiver talent came from. That changed with these two players. Blaylock received his first SEC offer when he was still in the eighth grade and the collegiate fan mail continued until he signed with the Georgia Bulldogs. The massive attention surrounding Blaylock led to a four-year career at Walton where he was always in the spotlight. He went on to represent the Raiders in the 2019 All-American Bowl and finished his varsity career with 52 total touchdowns and over 3,500 total yards of offense. Blaylock is now a sophomore for the Bulldogs and his freshman year earned him co-Offensive Newcomer of the Year at the team’s post-season awards gala. Alford’s recruiting journey took a much different path with him bursting to the scene only after breakout junior and senior seasons. The 5-foot-10 receiver closed out his senior campaign with 59 catches and a team-high 1,071 yards to go with 11 touchdowns. Alford’s talents were recognized and he earned a scholarship to play for Western Carolina in the Southern Conference. The Walton offense struggled during the 2019 season, but there are underclassmen coming up through the program that have the ability to reignite the passing game. Class of 2023 prospect Pearce Spurlin that already stands 6-foot-6, 205 pounds and is set to play wide receiver and tight end for the Raiders in the upcoming season. The rising sophomore received his latest offer from Nebraska earlier this month.

1. Westminster – The Wildcat’s prowess for producing quality special teams players, especially kickers and punters, has landed Westminster at the top of the list. Westminster is unique in the fact that it is one of, if not the only, program in the state with a designated kicking coach: Joe Sturniolo, or coach Sturno as he is called. He joined the program in 2000 after a meeting with head coach Gerry Romberg when Sturno was signing his daughter up for classes. Sturno offered to help with the football team and eventually he gravitated toward the kickers. Soon, his work began to pay off. Westminster’s success began with Smith Harverty in 2007 when he was selected for the all-state team. The Wildcat’s most successful product is Harrison Butker, who played soccer, basketball, and football for the Wildcats. Butker, a 2013 grad, went to Georgia Tech as a three-star recruit and became Georgia Tech’s leading points scorer. He was 208-of-210 on extra point attempts and 43-of-60 on field goal attempts during his career at Tech. He was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft and signed by the Kansas City Chiefs later that year. Butker became a Super Bowl champion when the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV in a game where he converted all four extra point attempts and made a 31-yard field goal. More successful punters and kickers to come from Westminster are Charlie Ham (c/o 2019, Duke), Alex Gracey (c/o 2018, Stanford), Blake Gillikin (c/o 2016, Penn State) and for more on Westminster’s kicking program, follow the link here.

2. Norcross – Norcross comes in at No. 2 as it has produced several quality specialists in the past few years. Jake Camarda graduated in 2018 and, as a three-star recruit, signed with Georgia after committing in 2017 as a junior. Kicker Cole Hanna, a 2018 grad, walked on at South Carolina and was competing for the No. 2 kicker spot behind incumbent Parker White. Kicker Kellen Grave de Peralta is a 2020 graduate who is committed to the Navy. Returner Myles Autry, a 2016 graduate, signed with Georgia Tech before going to Hutchinson Community College.

3. Richmond Hill – The Wildcats have had success at producing specialists and the list continues to grow. Beginning with Canon Rooker (c/o 2012, Middle Tennessee) Richmond Hill continued with AJ Vandegrift (c/o 2014, Snapper, Limestone), Drew Crawford (c/o 2017, Independence Community College), Joseph Petriono (c/o 2018, Maryland), Matt Daniels (c/o 2019, West Virginia), returner Aaron Bedgood (c/o 2019, Coastal Carolina) and upcoming 2021 graduate Britton Williams.

4. Athens Academy – Athens Academy climbed the list with notable specialists over the recent years with Michael Santamaria (c/o 2014, Virginia Tech), Drew Byus (c/o 2018, walk-on UGA), three-star James Williams (c/o 2020, Syracuse) and Magill Bauerle (Georgia Southern).

5. Marist – Marist has produced a few quality specialists lately led by three-star kicker Justin Moore (c/o 2010, Georgia Tech). Three-star kicker Austin Hardin (c/o 2012, Florida) continued the trend ahead of punter Brendan Farrell (c/o 2019 Virginia), place kicker Joey Gogol (c/o 2015, Furman) and four-star returner Kyle Hamilton (c/o 2019) who is a safety at Notre Dame.

6. Colquitt – Colquitt County’s All-American kicker Ryan Fitzgerald (c/o 2019, Florida State) leads the group of quality Packer specialists along with Luis Martinez (c/o 2016, Georgia Southern) and Oscar Luna (c/o 2012). Fitzgerald, a three-star recruit, made 22-of-27 of his field goal attempts as a senior at Colquitt County.

7. Sprayberry – Why? Hot Rod. Rodrigo Blankenship carried his three-star rating from high school into a walk-on role at the University of Georgia before blossoming into everyone’s favorite kicker. Blankenship, who was an all-state selection in high school, red-shirted his freshman year before leading the team in scoring during the 2016 season. As a sophomore in 2017, he received a full athletic scholarship. Against Oklahoma in the 2018 Rose Bowl, he converted a Rose Bowl record-setting 55-yard field goal as the Bulldogs pulled away. He was named to the first-team All-SEC in 2019 and the second-team All-SEC in 2018. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent in April of 2020.

8. Cartersville – Cartersville’s ability to produce specialists as of late began with three-star punter Collin Barber, a 2012 grad who signed with UGA and played four seasons. Jonathan Cruz (c/o 2018, Charlotte) was rated as the No. 23 kicker in the 2018 class. Gabriel Gridley, a 2018 grad, plays at Angelo State.

9. Allatoona – Kicker Skyler Davis, a 2018 graduate, plays for Elon and was 17-of-22 on field goals in his freshman season and 10-of-15 in 2019. While in high school, Davis spent time with Jude Kelley, a 2020 punter who committed to Georgia Tech. During his senior season, Kelley made a record 19-of-25 field goals, which included a career-long 54-yard field goal against Cartersville. His talent was on full display after his game-winner against Richmond Hill in the semifinals to send Allatoona to the state title game against Harrison.

10. Blessed Trinity – BT makes the list with 2016 graduate Brooks Hosea, a two-time all-state punter who committed to Army. Riley Lyons (c/o 2010, Dartmouth) played four seasons for the Big Green. Mitchell Rostowsky graduated in 2015 and was a walk-on at UGA.

1. Grayson – The Rams place at the top of the list with several NFL defensive lineman in the past 15 years. A large part of the Rams winning state championships in 2011 and 2016 was due to the trend of producing dominant defensive lines. Most recently, former five-star defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, a 2013 graduate who played at Mississippi, has epitomized Grayson’s success with its defensive line. Following a three-year stint in Oxford, he declared for the NFL Draft in 2016 and was selected in the first round by the Arizona Cardinals. In 2019, he signed with the Miami Dolphins. Reaching back, four-star Lorenzo Washington, a 2004 graduate, played at Alabama and then signed with the Cowboys in 2010. He has played for the New England Patriots, New York Jets and Detroit Lions. Quanterus Smith, a 2008 graduate, played at Western Kentucky and then the Denver Broncos. Other notable Grayson defensive lineman include three-star Shawn Green (c/o 2010, Georgia Tech, DT), three-star Jack Banda (c/o 2013, Arizona WDE), three-star Justin Young (c/o 2015, Georgia SDE) and four-star Kevin Harris (c/o 2019, Alabama, DL/LB).

2. Cedar Grove – Lately, the Saints, who won the Class AAA state championship in 2015, 2018 and 2019, have steadily produced quality linemen on the defensive side, which has been a massive part of the success in the past four seasons. Recently, Cedar Grove’s most successful lineman is Brandon Greene, a former four-star recruit who graduated in 2012 and then played at Alabama. He was signed with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and currently plays for the Carolina Panthers. Antwuan Jackson Jr., a 2015 graduate, was named to the AJC Super 11 team and played at Ohio State after transferring from Auburn. The trend of producing lineman at Cedar Grove includes four-star Bryson Allen-Williams (c/o 2014, South Carolina, DL/OLB), DeAngelo Malone (c/o 2017, Western Kentucky), three-star Dante Walker (c/o 2019, Western Kentucky, WDE), three-star Rashad Cheney (c/o 2019, Minnesota, DT) and most recently three-star Alvin Williams (c/o 2020, Colorado, WDE).

3. McEachern – The Indians have had success with their defensive line in the recent years. Four-star recruit Ted Laurent, a 2007 graduate, played at Mississippi and then the Edmonton Eskimos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In 2014, he was awarded the Lew Hayman Trophy for being named the most outstanding Canadian player in the East Division. More notable lineman include former four-star recruit Darius English (c/o 2012, South Carolina WDE), three-star Henry Famurewa (c/o 2014, Louisville DL/OLB), four-star Julian Rochester (c/o 2016, Georgia DT), Andrew Tarver (c/o 2016, Florida International, DT), three-star Michael Fairbanks (c/o 2018, University of Alabama-Birmingham SDE) and most recently, four-star Jamil Burroughs (c/o 2020, Alabama DT).

4. Buford – Buford has won 12 state championships since taking its first title in 1978. The Wolves won four-straight championships from 2007-2010 and three in a row from 2012-2014 before winning last season in Class AAAAA. Looking back through Buford’s defensive lineman history, several players stand out beginning with former five-star recruit Omar Hunter, a 2008 graduate who played defensive tackle at Florida. The Wolves continued with four-star Kolton Houston (c/o 2010, Georgia OT/DL), Kurt Freitag (c/o 2012, Alabama, DL/TE), three-star Mikey Bart (c/o 2013, UNC, SDE), three-star Shug Frazier (c/o 2016, NC State DT), three-star Dallas Lee (c/o 2009, Georgia DL/OG), three-star Rick LeGrant (c/o 2012), three-star Quay Picou (c/o 2015, Tennessee DT), three-star Jalar Holley (c/o 2019, Miami DT), and most recently three-star Jackson Powell (c/o 2020, Army WDE).

5. Hillgrove – Recent success of one top-tier defensive lineman brings Hillgrove into the top 10. Former three-star recruit Bradley Chubb, a 2014 graduate, played at NC State and blossomed into a star defensive end while in Raleigh. He was named first-team All-American and first-team All-ACC during his senior season. He won the 2017 Hendricks Award for the best defensive end and the 2017 ACC Defensive Player of the Year award. Chubb was selected as the fifth-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. Recently, five-star recruit Myles Murphy, a 2020 graduate, signed with Clemson as a strongside defensive end.

6. Colquitt County – Colquitt County won back-to-back state championships in 2014-2015 and a large part of that success was its defensive line. The Packers have produced several notable linemen over the past several seasons beginning with three-star Cameron Erving, a 2010 graduate who played college ball at Florida State. He was drafted as the 19th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. In 2017, he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs where he won his first Super Bowl when the Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV. More successful Packer defensive linemen include three-star Dee Walker (c/o 2016, Arkansas OLB/DL) and three-star Ja’Quain Blakeley (c/o 2016, Tennessee SDE).

7. North Gwinnett – The Bulldogs won the 2017 state championship against Colquitt County and a big part of silencing the Packers during that victory was their successful defensive front. The Bulldogs have produced three-star Anree Saint-Amour (c/o 2015, Georgia Tech WDE), four-star Dante Sawyer (c/o 2015, South Carolina WDE), four-star Jared Ivey (c/o 2020, Georgia Tech WDE) and three-star Chuck Smith (c/o 2020, Wofford commit SDE) in the past six seasons.

8. Marist – The recent success by Marist at the defensive lineman position is undeniable. The War Eagles have produced three-star Greg Taboada (c/o 2013, Stanford DL/TE), four-star Kendall Baker (c/o 2014, Georgia, DL/OG), three-star Kenneth Brinson (c/o 2015, Army WDE), four-star John Fitzpatrick (c/o 2018, UGA DL/OG), Ryan Mannelly (c/o 2018, Penn DL) and Jalen Clark (c/o 2019) in the past seven seasons.

9. Rome – The Wolves’ back-to-back state titles in 2016 and 2017 were fueled by offensive and defensive fronts that smothered opponents and opened running lanes for budding back four-star Jamious Griffin, now at Georgia Tech. On the defensive side of the line, the Wolve’s recent success was highlighted by five-star Adam Anderson (c/o 2018 UGA DL/OLB), three-star Jamarcus Chatham (c/o 2018, FSU), three-star Ja’Quon Griffin (c/o 2018, Georgia Tech DT) and Rayquan Jones (c/o 2020, Coastal Carolina DT).

10. Westlake – Westlake climbed in the top 10 led by four-star defensive tackle Kiante Tripp, a 2006 graduate who played at the University of Georgia and then Cleveland Browns. The Lions continued with three-star Daquan Hawkins-Muckle (c/o 2015, UGA DT), three-star Christion Abercrombie (c/o 2016, Tennessee State OLB/DL), four-star Jaden Hunter (c/o 2017, Western Kentucky DL/ILB) and Mac Petit (c/o 2018, DL, Norfolk State).

1. Marist: Head coach Alan Chadwick sits second all-time in state history for career victories and has led the program since 1985. In his 36 seasons at the school, Chadwick has coached the program to 386 victories and a pair of state titles. Marist has reached the playoffs 37-straight seasons heading into 2020, and this remarkable consistency is validation of the school’s long history of great offensive line play. When Marist won the state championship in 1989, it brought the school its first state title since its inaugural 1913 season. In the 30-8 victory over Worth County, a special play involving the offensive line galvanized the team and shifted momentum in the War Eagles’ favor. The game started off slow, but then quarterback Sean Cotter orchestrated a trick play where he set the ball on the ground and darted to the right. Worth County’s defense chased after Cotter as left guard Matt Post scooped up the ball and rumbled down the left side of the field and into the end zone.

“That was the one that sparked our team. It just kind of put a dagger in them and just shocked them and then we were able to kind of just slowly, slowly wear (them) down,” recalled Chadwick in an interview with The Georgia Bulletin.

Post’s momentum-swinging touchdown is symbolic of the proud tradition of offensive linemen at Marist. In fact, the 1989 state championship game was won without throwing a pass as the offense racked up 317 yards on the ground and imposed its will up front. The offense has evolved over the years to a more balanced attack, but the long history of talented offensive linemen remains a staple of Marist football. Here is a quick look back at some of the program’s offensive linemen over the years.
Bert Ackermann attended the University of Tennessee in the 1960’s. Ken Adamson went to Notre Dame and then played for the Denver Broncos from 1960-62. Boyd Andrews earned First Team All-State on Marist’s 1989 state championship team, and the following year, Brian Harpring received honorable mention as a Marist offensive lineman. Brian’s younger brother is Matt Harpring, the former NBA player and Georgia Tech great who has since had his No. 15 retired by the Jackets. The 1990’s saw more talented linemen like future Georgia Bulldogs David Weeks and Alec Millen. Millen would later be drafted in the 7th Round of the 1993 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. Offensive tackle Gannon Shepherd earned a roster spot with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2001, and guard Bob Olderman attended Virginia before playing for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1985.
Patrick Mannelly earned First Team All-State as a Marist offensive lineman in 1992. He would go on to play at Duke before getting drafted in the sixth-round of the 1998 NFL Draft as a long snapper by the Chicago Bears. Mannelly played for the Bears from 1998-2013, becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in games played (245) and the longest tenured player in Bears’ history (16 seasons). He was recognized as one of the Top 100 Bears of all time in a list produced last year.

In the early 2000’s Marist continued producing college offensive linemen, including Bartley Miller (Georgia), Kyle Adams (Lehigh), Jeff Edwards (Stanford), Matt Ramsey (Duke) and Alex Salzillo (Amherst). Within the last decade, Marist has sent Nick Brigham (Georgia Tech), Charlie Clark (Georgia Tech), Chat Lagod (Georgia Tech), Mike Fennelly (Georgia), Kendall Baker (Georgia) and Sage Hardin (Georgia) to the next level.

Marist’s long history of producing offensive linemen is poised to continue. Class of 2022 offensive tackle Steven Nahmias is the program’s next top offensive lineman prospect. The rising junior earned All-State Honorable Mention this past season and already stands 6-foot-3, 285 pounds. So far, East Carolina, Florida State, Jacksonville State, Michigan State and South Carolina have offered Nahmias.

2. Buford: No other school in the state has produced as many college offensive linemen as the Buford Wolves over the past four seasons. This group includes Class of 2015 linemen Hunter Holland (Western Kentucky) and Nick Polino (UNC), Class of 2016’s Cooper Simpson (Army), Class of 2017’s Dean Powell (Army), Connor Mills (Princeton) and Tyler Thurmond (West Virginia) and Class of 2018’s Austin Blake (Campbell). Buford’s Class of 2019 contained four of the highest-rated offensive linemen in the state. Out of this group, Harry Miller signed with Ohio State, Riley Simonds signed with Florida and Reece McIntyre and Carter Colquitt both went to Ole Miss. Alabama-signee Seth McLaughlin highlighted the Class of 2020 as one of the top linemen in the country and Jacob Smith is already receiving massive recruiting attention in the Class of 2021.

3. McEachern: The McEachern Indians run a high-tempo offense that demands athleticism, speed and durability out of its offensive linemen, and over the years this has led to some of the most sought-after o-line prospects in the state suiting up for the Blue and Gold. Earlier in the school’s history, Adam Meadows graduated and became a four-year starter for Georgia before getting taken in the second round of the 1997 NFL Draft. T.J. Meers went on to play at Auburn and Etta Etta-Tawo earned a scholarship to play at Clemson before a heart condition prematurely ended his career. Class of 2013 graduate Jajuan Dulaney played at Maryland and Texas Tech and is now an Offensive Graduate Assistant Coach at the University of Houston. The Class of 2015 featured Chuma Edoga. After attending Southern California, Edoga was drafted in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. More recently, Class of 2016 guard Tremayne Anchrum was taken by the LA Rams in the seventh round of this year’s NFL Draft. Additionally, the McEachern program has also produced All-American Chandler Jones, Jalen Jackson (Class of 2017, Purdue) and Kameron Duhunsi (Class of 2018, Albany State).

4. North Gwinnett: The Bulldogs have had a strong collection of offensive linemen in recent years. Alex Stoehr and DeVondre Seymour were both 2013 graduates. Stoehr went on to play at Georgia State and Seymour went to Georgia before deciding to step away from the game shortly after his arrival. In 2015, five-star Mitch Hyatt led the North Gwinnett offensive line. Hyatt continued his career at Clemson and is currently an offensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys. Alex Mollette graduated in 2016 and went on to play o-line at Marshall. The following year, Chris Sibilia signed with Georgia State and Sean Maginn signed with Wake Forest where he is currently a starter. Class of 2018 standout Warren Ericson earned four-star status and is now attending UGA. Ericson played in six games for the Bulldogs this past season and started every snap at right guard in the team’s Sugar Bowl victory over Baylor.

5. Grayson: The Grayson program has generated a ton of offensive line talent in addition to nearly every other position over the last several seasons. Class of 2014 grad Owen Painter continued his career at Appalachian State. Then, in 2017 the Rams sent a trio of offensive linemen onto the next level. This group included Tony Gray (Ole Miss), Will Taylor (Duke) and Jalen Jackson (Georgia State). In 2019, Grayson was home to three of the highest-rated offensive linemen in the state; five-star Wayne Morris went to Tennessee, four-star Trente Jones went to Michigan and Jakai Clark went to Miami, where he earned the starting job as a true freshman.

6. Brookwood: The Broncos have been a hotspot for offensive linemen for more than two decades. During the 1996 season, Philip Jones anchored the offensive line for Brookwood’s state championship team. Jones played for his father Tom, the school’s longtime offensive line coach. Following his varsity career, Jones played for South Carolina and then began his coaching career—which led him to his current position as head football coach of his alma mater. In the past two decades, Brookwood has seen a long list of talented offensive linemen come through the program that went on to represent the Maroon and Gold at the next level. Class of 2002’s Stephon Heyer went on to play at Maryland and then earned roster spots with the Redskins and Oakland Raiders. Mansfield Wrotto graduated from Brookwood in 2003 and went on to play at Georgia Tech. Wrotto spent his first three years playing defensive line, but switched to offense and went on to play guard for the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills. Class of 2005 grad Brian Truelove played on both sides of the football and earned a scholarship to Oregon to play defensive tackle. Class of 2008’s A.J. Mackey signed with Army, 2009 grad Kellen Williams signed with Alabama, Class of 2012’s Jackson Buonamia signed with Furman and 2013’s Blake Fussell signed with Mercer. More recently, offensive tackle Casey Holman (Class of 2018) landed at Duke and Aiden Perkins (Class of 2020) landed at Army.

7. Mill Creek: The Mill Creek program played its inaugural season in 2004 and has grown into one of the most consistent program’s in Georgia’s highest classification. The Hawks have been especially talented along the offensive line, and their longtime offensive line coach Josh Lovelady was promoted to head coach in 2019 where he led the team to the state quarterfinals. Mill Creek’s Class of 2015 featured Kaleb Kim (Auburn) and Josh Fannin (Middle Tennessee State). Robbie Bell signed with Louisville the following year, and then the Class of 2017 produced Tyler Fannin (Virginia), Jack Franklin (Coastal Carolina) and Nick Campbell (Western Carolina). Class of 2018 grad John Harris is now at Virginia Tech, and Class of 2019 lineman Jonathan Leech is at Virginia with the younger Fannin.

8. Stephenson: The Stephenson program has rapidly produced college offensive linemen over the past five seasons and has more upcoming talent ready to lead the Jags upfront. Tyler Jones (N.C. State) and Jordan Harris (Mississippi State) were 2014 grads. Class of 2016’s Tyler Johnson went on to play at Tulane. Class of 2018’s Jalil Irwin (Auburn) and Class of 2019’s Joshua Black (Louisville) also went on to the next level. Rising senior George Jackson is a 6-foot-4, 350-pound three-star prospect that is committed to Florida.

9. Rome: The Rome Wolves achieved back-to-back state titles in 2016 and 2017 with one of the most effective offenses that the state has ever seen. The team’s 2017 squad averaged 50.53 points per game, and running back Jamious Griffin would go on to earn Georgia’s Gatorade Player of the Year the following season to cap his incredible varsity career. Griffin is currently playing at Georgia Tech and he left Rome after racking up 6,400 career rushing yards off of 781 carries with 104 rushing touchdowns. Griffin’s talent is undeniable, but it is worth pointing out how the Rome offensive line played at a level that allowed Griffin to maximize his abilities. Rome had a dominant defense during the championship run and the 2017 Rome defense produced 114.5 tackles for loss. Not surprisingly, suiting up each day at practice on the other side equipped the offensive line for Friday nights. Class of 2017 grad Zach Kadum signed with Samford, and Rome’s Class of 2020 linemen Quantavious Leslie (Western Kentucky) and Aiden Gaines (Army) are getting ready to play at the next level this fall. It’s worth pointing out that the entire Rome area is a hotspot for offensive line talent with Darlington, Coosa and other schools in the area also featuring top prospects.

10. Roswell: The Roswell Hornets have been quietly turning out top offensive line prospects over the past four seasons. In 2016, Cameron Whiteman signed with Harvard. The following year, Jack Nichols was offered by Gardner Webb and Jordan Tucker earned a scholarship with North Carolina. Class of 2020 graduate Tre Zimmerman also signed with UNC after receiving 19 total offers. This upcoming season, rising senior Corey Robinson II will be featured on Roswell’s o-line. Robinson is a 3-star prospect that stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 275-pounds. Robinson received his most recent offer from Austin Peay on May 30.