Deshaun Watson’s junior campaign at Gainesville High in 2012 is probably the best single-season performance for a player in Georgia history. Watson was 305-of-435 passing for 4,024 yards and 50 touchdowns while rushing for 1,441 yards and 24 touchdowns. It resulted in Gainesville’s first state title. Photo: Jason Getz

All-decade football team: Watson, Lawrence, Nkemdiche among state’s elite in 2010-19

Two decades of 21st Century high school football in Georgia are in the books. Below is an all-decade team for the seasons 2010 through 2019. 

It includes quarterbacks who led their high school teams to state titles, then their college teams to national titles. They are Trevor Lawrence and Deshaun Watson, who left their Georgia high schools as the all-time leading passers in Georgia history, one breaking the other’s record.

Lawrence was the nation’s consensus No. 1 recruit. So was Robert Nkemdiche, a defensive end from Grayson.

The Georgia all-decade team also includes the reigning Gatorade national player of the year, Arik Gilbert.

If features a future NFL rookie of the year, Alvin Kamara; the NFL’s second-leading rusher this season, Nick Chubb; and the second-most accurate NFL place-kicker of all-time, Harrison Butker.

Ten currently play in the NFL. Three were first-round picks.

The players chosen were selected primarily for their accomplishments as high school players. The team also includes a coach and program of the decade.

Player of the decade (offense):

Deshaun Watson, Gainesville

A four-year starter, Watson set state record for passing yards (13,077) and passing touchdowns (155). He also rushed for 4,057 yards and scored 63 touchdowns. Gainesville was 46-9 in Watson’s four seasons. Watson’s junior campaign is probably the best single-season performance for a player in Georgia history. He was 305-of-435 passing for 4,024 yards and 50 touchdowns while rushing for 1,441 yards and 24 touchdowns. It resulted in Gainesville’s first state title. Watson signed with Clemson, won a national title in 2016, and starts now for the Houston Texans.

Player of the decade (defense):

Robert Nkemdiche, Grayson

Nkemdiche, a defensive end, was the first Georgia player since Herschel Walker in 1979 to be regarded as the consensus No. 1 recruit in the country. Nkemdiche was a first-team all-state player as a sophomore, junior and senior. He had 41 sacks in his career and led Grayson to its first state title in 2011 as a junior. He rushed for 17 touchdowns that season as a short-yardage back. Nkemdiche was a true-freshman starter at Ole Miss and made seven All-American teams as a junior. A first-round pick by the Cardinals, he made six career starts. He recently was waived by the Dolphins.

Coach of the decade

Hal Lamb, Calhoun

Lamb’s decade record of 119-10 ranks second in victories and first in winning percentage among Georgia coaches with at least 75 games. Lamb won the first state titles (2011, 2014, 2017) for Calhoun since 1952. Retired after the 2018 season.

Program of the decade

Buford

Buford’s decade record of 131-15 ranks first in victories in Georgia. The school’s 60 all-state players since 2010 rank first in Georgia. Buford won state titles in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2019. 

Offensive team of the decade

QB (dual threat) – Deshaun Watson, Gainesville (2013)

See above.

QB (pro style) – Trevor Lawrence, Cartersville (2017)

Was 52-2 as a starter with two state championships, passed for a state-record 13,908 yards and 161 touchdowns. Rated the No. 1 prospect nationally by 247Sports, signed with Clemson, led Tigers to 2018 national title as a freshman.

RB – Alvin Kamara, Norcross (2012)

Rushed for 2,264 yards, had 286 yards receiving and scored 31 touchdowns for Norcross’ 15-0 Class AAAAAA championship team of 2012. His 61-yard TD reception on a third-and-11 late in a 21-14 victory over Lovejoy in the title game was one of the iconic plays of the decade. Named the AJC’s all-classification player of the year. Consensus top-50 national recruit. Played at Tennessee. Now starts for the Saints and was the 2017 NFL rookie of the year.

RB – Nick Chubb, Cedartown

Rushed for 2,690 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior in only 11 games; rushed for 2,721 with 38 touchdowns as a junior in 10 games. The only player in state history to rush for more than 2,500 yards in a season twice. Consensus top-50 national recruit. Played at Georgia. Finished second in NFL rushing this season with the Browns with 1,494 yards.

WR – Dominick Blaylock, Walton (2018)

A four-year starter with 211 career receptions for 3,657 yards and 31 touchdowns. Rushed for 562 yards and 20 touchdowns and had over 4,500 all-purpose yards. Consensus top-50 national recruit. Signed with Georgia and just completed his freshman season.

WR – Jadon Haselwood, Cedar Grove (2018)

All-class player of the year as a senior while leading team to state title. Caught 22-yard TD pass on third-and-goal with 10 seconds left in 14-13 victory over Peach County in Class AAA championship game. Consensus No. 1 WR recruit nationally. Had 53 receptions for 1,032 yards and 11 touchdowns in run-based offense. Also started at safety. Signed with Oklahoma and just completed his freshman season.

TE – Arik Gilbert, Marietta (2019)

Just completed senior season with 105 receptions for 1,860 yards and 15 touchdowns. The yardage ranks No. 2 in state history and No. 1 all-time in the highest classification. Led Marietta to its first state title since 1967. Gilbert is Georgia’s first Gatorade national player of the year, an award given since 1986. Consensus top-10 recruit, signed on Dec. 18 with LSU.

OL – Mitch Hyatt, North Gwinnett (2014)

AJC preseason Super 11 pick, first-team all-state as junior and senior. Consensus No. 23 national recruit. Signed with Clemson. Four-year starter, two-time All-American at Clemson, where he played left tackle on two national championship teams. Not chosen in 2019 NFL Draft, currently on Cowboys’ practice squad.

OL – Chuma Edoga, McEachern (2014)

AJC preseason Super 11 pick, first-team all-state as junior and senior. Consensus No. 26 national recruit. Signed with Southern Cal. Started two seasons. Third-round pick of the Jets in the 2019 NFL Draft. Started eight games at right tackle before going on injured reserve with knee injury.
OL – Andrew Thomas, Pace Academy (2016)

No. 45 national recruit. Led Pace to its first state title in 2015 as two-way starter. Had 59 tackles on defense. Signed with Georgia, three-year starter. Won SEC Jacobs Blocking Trophy as senior. Named to three first-team All-America teams. Recently declared for the NFL Draft.

OL – Jamaree Salyer, Pace Academy (2017)

AJC Super 11, first-team all-state as a sophomore, junior, senior. Led Pace to state title in 2015. Highest-rated offensive line prospect for the decade in Georgia. Consensus No. 10 player nationally, No. 1 offensive guard. Signed with Georgia. Played in 25 games through two seasons, could make his first start in Sugar Bowl.

OL – Brandon Kublanow, Walton (2012)

AJC Super 11, first-team all-state as junior and senior. Led Walton to Class AAAAA finals as junior. Top-200 national prospect. Signed with Georgia. Started the final 39 games of his career at center. 

ATH – A.J. Gray, Washington County

AJC all-class player of the year in 2014, when he led Washington County to a second straight state runner-up finish. As a senior, rushed for 2,358 yards and 39 touchdowns, passed for 1,810 yards and 21 touchdowns and intercepted 10 passes, returning four for touchdowns. Only a three-star recruit, signed with Tech, won starting job in the secondary. Medically disqualified after the 2017 season because of a heart condition.

PK – Harrison Butker, Westminster (2012)

First-team all-state as a junior and senior. Made 16 of 17 field-goal attempts as a junior. Set Westminster school record for longest field goal, 53 yards. Played at Georgia Tech, where he became school’s all-time leading scorer. Taken in seventh round of 2017 NFL Draft. Ranks second all-time in NFL field-goal accuracy (96 of 107 attempts, 89.7 percent).

Defensive team of the decade

DL – Carl Lawson, Milton

AJC Super 11 pick, first-team all-state as a senior. Had 78 tackles, 44 for losses, with 27 sacks as a senior; 15 sacks as a junior. Consensus top-25 national prospect, signed with Auburn, started 20 games through injury-plagued career. Named first-team All-American by FWAA and Phil Steele in 2016. Drafted in fourth round by Bengals, 14.5 sacks over three-year career.

DL – Derrick Brown, Lanier (2015)

AJC all-classification player of the year. AJC Super 11 pick. Recorded 106 tackles, 42 for losses, and 12 sacks as a senior; 33.5 sacks for his career. Signed with Auburn, three-year starter, consensus All-American in 2019.

DL – Robert Nkemdiche, Grayson (2012)

See above.

DL – Lorenzo Carter, Norcross (2013)

AJC Super 11 pick, consensus No. 1 recruit in Georgia. Had 132 tackles, 40 for losses, on a 13-2 state championship team as a senior. Signed with Georgia, two-year starter, second-team All-SEC as a senior. Third-round NFL Draft pick to the Giants. Became a starter this season, had 4.5 sacks. All-SEC second team.

LB – Roquan Smith, Macon County (2014)

AJC Super 11 pick, two-time Class AA defensive player of the year. Had more than 150 tackles as a senior. In the final game of the regular season, with a region title on the line, Smith was moved to running back and rushed for 263 yards. Also had 24 tackles in a 36-21 victory. Consensus top-50 national recruit. Signed with Georgia. Won Butkus Award in 2017. First-round NFL Draft pick, starting linebacker with the Bears.

LB – Raekwon McMillan, Liberty County (2012)

First AJC Super 11 from Liberty County, Class AAAA defensive player of the year. Compiled 456 tackles and 10 forced fumbles during his career. As a senior, had 159 tackles, 35.5 for losses, and 8.5 sacks; also rushed for nearly 700 yards on offense. Rated consensus No. 1 inside LB prospect nationally. Member of Ohio State’s 2014 national championship team. Second-round pick of the Dolphins in 2017, current starting middle linebacker.

LB – Tre Lamar, Roswell (2015)

AJC Super 11 pick, Class AAAAAA defensive player of the year as a senior, leading Roswell to state runner-up finish. Had 156 tackles, 17 for losses, including 10 sacks, three passes broken up, one blocked kick, one interception and one touchdown as a senior. Signed with Clemson, played on 2016 and 2018 national championship teams. Butkus Award finalist in 2018. Declared for NFL Draft, though not chosen after suffering an injury at the NFL Draft Combine. Currently a free agent.

DB – Vonn Bell, Ridgeland (2012)

AJC Super 11 pick, consensus No. 26 prospect nationally. Had 146 tackles and three interceptions as a senior, plus more than 1,700 all-purpose yards, and scored 21 touchdowns. First-team All-American at Ohio State in 2005. Second-round draft choice to the Saints in 2016, now a four-year starter. 

DB – Richard LeCounte, Liberty County (2016)

AJC Super 11, first-team all-state as a sophomore, junior and senior. For high school career, had 399 tackles (36 for losses), 13 interceptions, 13 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries, three defensive touchdowns. On offense, caught 86 passes for 1,683 yards and 23 touchdowns, rushed for 1,450 yards and threw for 750 yards and 10 touchdowns. Consensus top-25 national recruit, signed with Georgia, current two-year starter. 

DB – Xavier McKinney, Roswell (2016)

Class AAAAAAA defensive player of the year as a senior. Led Roswell to consecutive 14-1 finishes. Had 193 tackles, 16 interceptions, over those two seasons. Two-year starter at Alabama, just completed his junior season. First-team All-SEC, named to five All-America teams.

DB – Brian Randolph, Kell (2010)

AJC Super 11 pick, Gatorade state player of the year, Class AAAA defensive player of the year, three-time all-state. As a senior, totaled 162 tackles (98 solo), nine pass breakups, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Also ran for 1,068 yards and 16 touchdowns, while catching 17 passes for 414 yards. Four-year starter at Tennessee (although one cut short by injury). Played one season in the NFL.

P – Jake Camarda, Norcross (2013)

Averaged 46.2 yards per punt as a senior with 13 downed inside the 20-yard line. Rated the No. 1 punter prospect nationally by Kohl’s Kicking. Signed with Georgia, current two-year starter.

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