Lowndes has a defensive line that specializes in havoc plays. Grayson has a secondary overflowing with Division I recruits. The two most highly recruited defensive players in Class AAAAAAA play for North Gwinnett.
Below are more insights into some of the best defensive players in Georgia’s highest classification. It’s a followup to last week’s preview of some of the classification’s best offensive players.
If you want to weigh in on players who ought to be on this football ‘’watch’’ list, email GHSFDaily@bellsouth.net.
Defensive line – Lowndes’ d-line could be the cornerstone to another run to the finals. Thomas Davis, the lone all-state defensive lineman returning in the highest class, was the Region 1 defensive player of the year in 2019. Teammates Jacques Hunter, a three-star recruit, and Leon Williams also were first-team all-region. The three together had 39.5 tackles for losses and 21 sacks in 2019. Grayson has a pair of Division 1-committed d-linemen, Noah Collins (committed to Central Florida) and Victoine Brown (Louisville). Each made all-region last season. Tift County’s Tyre West, an interior lineman, is the No. 1 rising junior prospect in Georgia, according to 247Sports. Harrison’s Bryce Stanfield had 10 tackles for losses and six sacks for the Class AAAAAA champions last season. Brayden Dudley of Mill Creek has some mid-major offers. Other notable all-region players back this fall will be Max Bryant of North Forsyth, Nick Cribbs of Forsyth Central, J.J. Hawkins of Discovery and Kamren Lark of Norcross.
Linebacker – Barrett Carter, a first-team all-state player last season at North Gwinnett, had 10 sacks and another nine tackles for losses in 2019. He’s a four-star prospect, reportedly leaning toward Clemson. Jalen Garner of Norcross was credited with 32 tackles for losses in 2019 and was a first-team GACA all-state player. McEachern’s Ese Dubre, a middle linebacker, had 15 stops for losses and seven sacks. Garner and Dubre are three-star recruits. Grayson’s undersized Grady Bryant was his team’s defensive MVP last season, when he had 136 tackles, 14.5 for losses. Harrison’s Marcus Bleazard, an inside linebacker, was in on 174 tackles for a 15-0 team. Dwayne “D.J.” Johnson of South Gwinnett, Steven Carter of Newnan, Jalon Baker of Lowndes and Trey Stanley of Brookwood are first-team all-region players with Division I offers. Marietta’s Daniel Martin is a top-100 prospect among rising juniors. East Coweta’s Chase Lewis and Dylan Spelios are as good a pair as any team will put on the field. And Tift County’s J.D. Bengston, though not heavily recruited, is the player every coach wants – all-region, team captain, class president, 4.0 GPA.
Defensive back – With five top-100 national recruits, this is the most talented position group in this classification, or any. The best two rising senior cornerbacks in one state are Jordan Hancock of North Gwinnett and Nyland Green of Newton. The best two rising junior cornerbacks in one state are Travis Hunter of Collins Hill and Marquis Groves-Killebrew of Grayson. That’s according to 247Sports. The fifth blue chip in Georgia’s defensive backfields is rising senior David Daniel of Woodstock, a four-star recruit committed to Georgia. Of those, Hunter is probably the most dynamic. He had over 900 yards receiving and seven interceptions last season. The most fortunate is probably Groves-Killebrew, whose Grayson teammates in the secondary could include three other D-I recruits – rising senior Jibrahn Claude and rising juniors Andrew Stewart (committed to Auburn) and Terian Williams II. Parkview has two DBs already committed – cornerback Ronnie Hamrick II (Central Florida) and safety Quincy Bryant (Wake Forest). Both were first-team all-region in 2019. Other players of note include Newton’s Darius Green (committed to Minnesota), Walton’s Austin Eldred, Alpharetta’s Jaden Slocum and Dylan Mitchell, Denmark’s Justin Bradford and Lowndes’ T.J. Quinn.
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