Georgia’s Top Schools for Running Backs

For decades, Georgia High School Football has been the home for outstanding running backs, consistently proving that the state produces some of the best running backs in the nation. The talent in the backfield is seen on every football field on Friday nights across the state. Below, I will list 10 of the state’s best programs when it comes to running backs. The criteria that was considered in making this list varied program to program. For example, some of the programs made the list based on specific moments of unprecedented success in the backfield for their respective programs, while others were measured by more recent trends. This list is not perfect.

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.

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