Marist defensive back Kyle Hamilton (10) celebrates an interception in the second half against Woodward Academy at Marist Friday, September 15, 2017, in Atlanta. Marist won 34-17.

Class AAAA preseason all-state team

*Best player: Kyle Hamilton. Marist coach Alan Chadwick says that Hamilton is the best all-around player - offense, defense, special teams - that he has coached. That's going back some 34 years and 364 victories. In 2017, for a state runner-up team, Hamilton had 55 solo tackles and six interceptions from his safety position. He had 28 catches for 485 yards. (Marist doesn't pass much.) Hamilton had 460 return yards and one kickoff return for a touchdown. A tad underrated as a college prospect because he hasn't spent much time on the combine circuit, Hamilton is committed to Notre Dame.

*Best position: Defensive line. Travon Walker of Upson-Lee and King Mwikuta of Troup are four-star recruits and the highest-rated prospects in AAAA. Mwikuta is more of an outside linebacker prospect for college but is listed here as a high school defensive end. 

*Highly recruited: Travon Walker. The Upson-Lee senior is the consensus No. 2 defensive tackle, and No. 28 player overall, in the country. He is the state's No. 1 prospect, according to 247Sports. He committed to Georgia last month. 

*That's interesting: Blessed Trinity, the defending champion, has four players on preseason all-state and its best overall team yet. The Titans' talents include RB/LB Steele Chambers (committed to Ohio State), LB/TE J.D. Bertrand (committed to Georgia), WR/DB Ryan Davis (several mid-major offers, two-time all-state) and DL/FB J.R. Bivens (committed to Middle Tennessee). And though he didn't make this team, QB/DB Jake Smith (major Division I baseball prospect) is another outstanding two-way player for the Titans. 

*Snubbed? Kobe Hudson. The Troup receiver is a four-star recruit among juniors and committed to Auburn. He had 44 catches for 876 yards and 14 touchdowns last season in a record-setting offense. His teammate, Jamari Thrash, got the nod. Thrash had 62 catches for 1,410 yards and 18 touchdowns. 

*What else is new? Damekus Taylor, the choice at dual-threat quarterback, was the offensive player of the year in Region 3-AAAAAA while at Evans. He has taken his talents - which came to 1,441 yards passing and 1,455 yards rushing last season - to Thomson. 


QB (pro) - Max Johnson, Oconee County 

QB (dual) - Damekus Taylor, Thomson 

RB - Steele Chambers, Blessed Trinity 

RB - Tahj Gary, Woodward Academy 

TE - Jackson Lowe, Cartersville 

WR - Ryan Davis, Blessed Trinity 

WR - Jamari Thrash, Troup 

OL - Connor Brown, St. Pius 

OL - Dean Colton, Marist 

OL - Christian Coulter, Thomson 

OL - Fredrick Norman Jr., Ridgeland 

OL - Bayard Taylor II, Columbus 

ATH - Zion Puckett, Spalding 

PK - Marshall Golick, Woodward Academy 


DL - J.R. Bivens, Blessed Trinity 

DL - Ryan Mannelly, Marist 

DL - Travon Walker, Upson-Lee 

DE/LB - King Mwikuta, Troup 

LB - Milton Adams, Baldwin 

LB - J.D. Bertrand, Blessed Trinity 

LB - DeMarcus Mitchell, St. Pius 

LB - Jacorius "Joko" Willis, Troup 

DB - Keevan Bailey, Salem 

DB - Jamari Brown, Eastside 

DB - Kyle Hamilton, Marist 

DB - Zach Ranson, St. Pius 

P - Brandon Farrell, Marist 

Coming Tuesday: Class AAA 

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