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Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

POY Watch: Rome’s Griffin enters playoff as top contender

It's time for the final GHSF Daily Player of the Year Watch. What does it mean? Not too much, really.

Jaquez Parks of Griffin in 2013 and even current NFL star Alvin Kamara of Norcoss in 2012 are examples of players who weren't prime player-of-the-year candidates after the regular season, but who wound up with the ultimate recognition. 

A year ago, Trevor Lawrence of Cartersville and Michael Barrett of Lowndes stood 1-2 on GHSF Daily's final Player of the Year Watch. Then their No. 1-ranked teams lost in the second round. Lawrence was still the GSWA and Gatorade all-class player of the year, and Barrett was the Class AAAAAAA offensive player of the year. The AJC's all-class player of the year was Adam Anderson of Rome, the third defensive player this decade to win the award. (Derrick Brown of Lanier in 2015 and Robert Nkemdiche of Grayson in 20122 were the others.) 

There are exceptions to every rule, but players of the year are more likely to play on championship teams. They're more likely to play on offense. They're more likely to be highly recruited. Based on history, here are the ones best-positioned to be a player of the year in postseason. 

Just don't take it too seriously yet. The playoffs usually mean more than the regular season. The purpose of the POY Watch has been to recognize some of the state's best players. Hope you've enjoyed it. Here is our final take until December. 

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1. RB Jamious Griffin, Rome: Griffin has rushed for 2,024 yards and 31 touchdowns. He's moving in on Greg Gordon's Rome city record of 2,239 rushing yards in a season set in 1977 at East Rome, and Sidney Ford's Floyd County record of 2,595 yards set in 1998 at Pepperell. Griffin also has eight catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns. A three-star recruit, Griffin is committed to N.C. State. Rome (10-0) is ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAA and No. 16 nationally in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25. 

2. WR/DB Jadon Haselwood, Cedar Grove: Haselwood has 36 receptions for 693 yards and seven touchdowns. He has returned two interceptions and one punt for touchdowns, each covering at least 60 yards. A two-way starter, he has 17 tackles, 2.5 for losses, and three interceptions. Haselwood is the consensus No. 1 recruit in the state. Cedar Grove (9-1) is ranked No. 2 in Class AAA. 

3. QB Chandler Byron, Monroe Area: Byron has rushed for 2,133 yards and 30 touchdowns on 189 carries (10.0 ypc). He's closing in on the most rushing yards in state history by a quarterback. Fitzgerald's Gerald Morgan ran for 2,300 in 2014. Byron is 47-of-77 passing for 1,067 yards and 14 touchdowns. Byron is not a highly rated recruit and does not have an offer. Monroe Area (10-0) is ranked No. 3 in AAA. 

4. CB/RET Jammie Robinson, Lee County: Robinson has 72 tackles, four for losses, one interception and eight pass breakups. He is averaging 36.7 yards on eight kickoff returns and 32.3 on 15 punt returns with three return touchdowns. A four-star prospect, Robinson is heavily recruited by South Carolina, Georgia, Auburn and Michigan. Lee County (10-0) is ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAAA. 

5. LB Owen Pappoe, Grayson: With statistics updated only through the ninth game, Pappoe had a team-leading 70 tackles, seven for losses, both tied for the team lead, and he has scored three touchdowns in spot duty at running back. Pappoe is a five-star recruit committed to Auburn. Grayson (8-2) is ranked No. 2 in Class AAAAAAA. 

6. WR Dominick Blaylock, Walton: Blaylock has 46 receptions for 869 yards and seven touchdowns. He has rushed for 189 yards and scored eight touchdowns and is 4-for-4 passing for 81 yards. Blaylock is a five-star recruit and the consensus No. 31 player nationally. He committed to Georgia before his junior season. Walton (9-1) is ranked No. 5 in Class AAAAAAA. 

7. RB Treylon Sheppard, Haralson County: Sheppard had rushed for 2,874 yards - the most ever in a regular season - with 33 touchdowns on 363 carries. He's scored 19 two-point conversions. He's within in striking distance of the state single-season rushing record of 3,172 set in 2000 by Daccus Turman of Washington-Wilkes. Sheppard is not highly recruited. Haralson County (8-2) is unranked in Class AAA, and Sheppard is the only player on the POY Watch list that will travel (to Dawson County) in the first round. 

8. RB/LB Steele Chambers, Blessed Trinity: Chambers has rushed for 1,078 yards and 17 touchdowns on 139 carries. He has 41 tackles, seven for losses, and is a valuable two-way starter. A four-star recruit, Chambers is committed to Ohio State. Blessed Trinity (10-0) is ranked No. 1 in Class AAAA. 

9. Dylan Fromm, Warner Robins: Fromm is 216-of-336 passing for 3,087 yards and 34 touchdowns with five interceptions. He's averaging 75 yards more per game than in 2017, when he was the AAAAA offensive player of the year. Fromm is committed to Mercer. Warner Robins (8-2) is ranked No. 3 in AAAAA. 

10. RB Derrian Brown, Buford: Brown has rushed for 1,442 yards and 22 touchdowns on 184 carries. He has 125 yards and a touchdown receiving. Brown plays behind an offensive line of five Division I recruits. Brown, a four-star recruit and the No. 1 RB prospect in Georgia, has committed to Texas. Buford (8-2) is ranked No. 2 in Class AAAAA. 

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