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.

POY Watch: Top five candidates in each classification

The Player of the Year Watch traditionally features the best 10 candidates for the annual all-classification award.

This week, GHSF Daily is taking a different approach, looking at five candidates in each class. 

The criteria is largely the same - a subjective projection of each player's chances of winning the award at the end of the season. But in a class-by-class look, another consideration is the player's impact on his own classification. 


*1. Harrison Bailey, Marietta: A more specific choice would be "somebody from Marietta." Bailey has thrown for 2,341 yards and 25 touchdowns in seven games, and WR/TE Arik Gilbert has 909 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. Those numbers lead the classification. WR Ramel Keyton has 694 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. Record-threatening statistics by major college prospects on a state-contending teams lead to postseason awards. 

*2. Dominick Blaylock, Walton: Blaylock is a five-star recruit on an undefeated team. "We are not 7-0 and No. 2 in 7A without Dom Blaylock," Walton coach Daniel Brunner said. "Best player in the state. He does it all." Blaylock has 32 catches for 601 yards and seven touchdowns. He has scored another five touchdowns rushing. Ironically, Blaylock doesn't lead his team in receiving. The underrated Kendall Alford has 752 yards. 

*3. Owen Pappoe, Grayson: The five-star linebacker and Auburn pledge leads the third-ranked Rams with 58 tackles, eight for losses. 

*4. Malik Washington, Parkview: The best all-around player for the fourth-ranked Panthers, and a three-star prospect, Washington is much like Walton's Blaylock. Washington has 707 yards receiving, 90 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. 

*5. Travis Tisdale, Lowndes: Tisdale has rushed for 1,201 yards in seven games for a top-10 team. He ran for 414 - the most ever in one game by a player in the highest class - against Valdosta last month. He is committed to Kentucky. 


*1. Jammie Robinson, Lee County: The four-star CB recruit has 24 tackles and six pass breakups on the classification's top defense. (Lee has allowed just 48 yards rushing for the season, or 6.8 per game). Robinson also is a terror in the return game, averaging 36.5 yards on kickoff returns and 32.4 on punts with three touchdowns. 

*2. Tate Rodemaker, Valdosta: Rodemaker has passed for 2,332 yards and 23 touchdowns for the third-ranked Wildcats. That's against a schedule that includes three top-10 opponents from the highest classification. 

*3. Mataio Soli, Douglas County: This defensive end on a top-10 team is the classification's best player you don't hear much about. He has been credited with a staggering 19 sacks. He's committed to Arkansas. 

*4. Jadin Daniels, Northside (Warner Robins): Daniels has passed for 937 yards and rushed for 792. That's 68 percent of Northside's offense. 

*5. Max Brosmer, Centennial: Brosmer has taken the lead in passing yards in this class with 2,419 after his 480-yard effort against Dunwoody. Centennial is 5-2 with losses to Roswell and Northside (Warner Robins). Brosmer threw for 394 and 405 against those teams. He is committed to New Hampshire. 

Class AAAAA 

*1. Jamious Griffin, Rome: Griffin has rushed for a classification-best 1,685 yards (11.1 ypc) and 22 touchdowns for the No. 1-ranked team. He's committed to N.C. State. 

*2. Marcayll Jones, Warner Robins: Jones leads the state in receiving yards with 1,318, just 327 short of the state record, and plays for the No. 4 team. State records look nice on POY resumes. 

*3. Dylan Fromm, Warner Robins: Fromm leads the state in passing yards with 2,606 and 28 touchdowns. He's committed to Mercer. 

*4. Derrian Brown, Buford: Brown has rushed for 1,165 yards. A Texas commit, he might be Buford's best running back since Darius Walker. 

*5. Knox Kadum, Rome: He doesn't stay in games long enough to pile up the numbers, but Kadum is 51-of-82 passing for 990 yards and 17 touchdowns (one per 4.82 attempts) and has rushed for 299 yards (6.6 per carry). He has more than 6,000 yards passing and 2,000 rushing in his career as a four-year starter. And he's bearing down on a third state title. 

Class AAAA 

*1. Kyle Hamilton, Marist: It's hard to imagine a better all-around contributor. A Notre Dame commit, Hamilton has 541 yards receiving on a run-based team and 102 yards rushing on just three carries. He has scored touchdowns receiving, rushing, returning a punt, returning a kickoff and returning a kick that he blocked. He also has 25 solo tackles. 

*2. Steele Chambers, Blessed Trinity: The Ohio State commit has rushed for 745 yards, thrown two TD passes and caught one. Also a starting linebacker, Chambers has 31 tackles, seven in last week's 21-20 overtime victory over Flowery Branch. 

*3. Kobe Hudson, Troup: Hudson, a four-star WR prospect and first-year starter at quarterback, has thrown for 1,990 yards and run for 637 for an undefeated team. (His teammate, Alabama-committed DE King Mwikuta, is another POY candidate.) 

*4. Zach Ranson, St. Pius: Ranson, a safety, has a team-leading 61 tackles at a school that doesn't credit tackles liberally. He has intercepted three passes, one returned for a touchdown. He's committed to Wake Forest. 

*5. J.T. Hartage, Mary Persons: Hartage, on the small side at 5-10, 175, is an efficient leader with 1,865 yards passing for 19 touchdowns for an undefeated team. 

Class AAA 

*1. Jadon Haselwood, Cedar Grove: He's the state's consensus No. 1 recruit and plays on the No. 2 team in the class. A two-way starter, Haselwood has 496 yards receiving, 16 tackles and two return touchdowns. 

*2. Chandler Byron, Monroe Area: One of the best rushing quarterbacks the state has seen in years, Byron has run for 1,632 yards and 23 touchdowns. He has passed for 898 yards and 12 touchdowns. Monroe Area is 7-0 and ranked No. 3. 

*3. Dante Walker, Cedar Grove: This defensive end, an Arkansas commit, has a team-leading six sacks and another 13 tackles for losses for team that has held five opponents without a touchdown. 

*4. Treylon Sheppard, Haralson County: Sheppard has rushed for 2,244 yards in seven games. He's on pace to break the single-season state record before the playoffs (although beware that he'll face No. 1-ranked Calhoun before then.) He has just one scholarship offer - from Faulkner University in Alabama. 

*5. Chris Hinton Jr., Greater Atlanta Christian: Hinton is a blue-chip recruit with 5.5 sacks at defensive end, but what puts him over the top as a POY candidate is that he's a two-way starter, anchoring both lines of scrimmage for a highly ranked team. 

Class AA 

*1. Tank Bigsby, Callaway: Bigsby has rushed for 1,238 yards on the No. 2 team in the class. He's a big-time class-of-2020 recruit. 

*2. A.J. Brown, Harlem: Brown has rushed for 1,598 yards, the most in AA. He has 3,605 yards rushing for his career. 

*3. Aaron Beasley, Heard County: Beasley, a Tennessee commit, has more than 850 yards rushing, but he's missed a game, and his team has struggled. That's nothing that can't be fixed with a good showing vs. second-ranked Callaway this week. 

*4. Malik Fleming, Hapeville Charter: This East Carolina commit is the best cover corner on the class's top-rated defense. He's probably top-ranked Hapeville's best all-around player. 

*5. Austin Jones, Rabun County: He could make all-state as a receiver (522 yards) or safety (30 solo tackles, six for losses). He has returned a punt for a touchdown. He's committed to Furman. 

Class A (private) 

*1. Brock Vandagriff, Prince Avenue Christian: A sophomore and first-year starter, Vandagriff has thrown for 1,902 yards (the most in Class A) and rushed for 413. He's passed for more than 200 yards and passed and thrown for at least one TD each in every game. 

*2. Keaton Mitchell, Eagle's Landing Christian: Mitchell has rushed for 1,162 yards and 22 touchdowns on 102 carries (11.4 ypc) and has never fumbled. He's also a good blocker. 

*3. Len'Neth Whitehead, Athens Academy: He has rushed for only 734 yards, but look what happens in big games - 243 yards vs. No. 3 Prince Avenue Christian, 159 vs. No. 6 Savannah Christian and 168 vs. No. 7 George Walton Academy. 

*4. Sayyid Stevens, Calvary Day: Stevens, a linebacker committed to Duke, led ninth-ranked Calvary in solo tackles (19) and had eight tackles for losses through six games. He had five sacks and three forced fumbles. 

*5. Demetrius Knight, Strong Rock Christian: On a less-talented team, Knight has rushed for 941 yards and passed for 838 on a 3-4 team. He's committed to Georgia Tech. 

Class A (public) 

*1. D.J. Lundy, Irwin County: Lundy has rushed for 920 yards on 73 carries. He has sat out the fourth quarter in four of seven games and shares the backfield with a couple of other top backs, Jamal Paul and Javon Stanley. Lundy has 13 tackles, three for losses, in part-time work on defense. A junior, he has offers from Auburn and South Carolina. 

*2. Trezmen Marshall, Clinch County: Marshall has rushed for 562 yards and nine touchdowns and passed for 137 yards. He has a team-leading 31 tackles. Marshall is committed to Georgia. 

*3. Travon Matthews, Marion County: Matthews has rushed for 1,179 yards (11.1 ypc) and 21 touchdowns. He ran a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown last week. 

*4. Bo Lawson, Dooly County: Lawson has rushed for 761 yards (including 145 on four carries against Crawford County on Monday night) and passed for 955. 

*5. Da'Quan Jackson, Montgomery County: An under-the-radar guy, Jackson has 1,297 all-purpose yards - 615 rushing, 260 receiving and 422 returning. He's scored 17 touchdowns, three on kick returns. He has forced four fumbles and intercepted a pass. 

Produced by Georgia High School Football Daily, a free e-mail newsletter. To join the mailing list, click here.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author