If not the best left tackle in the state, Tate Ratledge might be the most important overall lineman to his team.
At a Class A school, Ratledge is asked to play both sides. He rarely comes off the field.
Ratledge is a four-star prospect as a tackle and committed to Georgia. Darlington coach Tommy Atha says Ratledge is the “most powerful player” he has ever coached. “Once he has fit on a defender, that player is going to go down,” Atha said.
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That goes for opposing offensive linemen, too. Ratledge had 60 tackles last season, including seven sacks and 16 other tackles for losses. He forced three fumbles and blocked three extra points.
Ratledge used to be a tight end who caught a few passes, but now he's settled in at tackle of offense, where his future lies at Georgia, to which he committed last month.
Below are 10 of the state’s best offensive linemen for 2019. GHSF Daily will publish its 10 best at each position over nine issues in preseason. The players' status as recruits is a factor, but the choices are made largely on production as high school players.
• Myles Hinton, Greater Atlanta Christian: Hinton is the only two-time first-team all-state offensive linemen currently in Georgia. He got the nod last season despite missing several games because of injury. He’s the son of former Falcons All-Pro tackle Chris Hinton and brother of Michigan defensive lineman Chris Hinton Jr. A top-100 national recruit and Army All-American projected as a tackle, Myles Hinton (6-6, 305) is committed to Stanford.
• Avery Jernigan, Pierce County: Jernigan was first-team all-state as a junior in 2018, when he led Pierce County to the Class AAA semifinals and a 13-1 record, the best finish in school history. Jernigan (6-3, 275) is a top-400 national recruit who projects as a guard at the next level. He is committed to Auburn.
• Tate Johnson, Callaway: Johnson is the best lineman on a team that sports a 2,000-yard rusher, Tank Bigsby, and finished as a Class AA semifinalist in 2018, when Johnson was a first-team all-state player. Projected as a guard in college, Johnson (6-4, 310) is a top-400 national recruit committed to Auburn.
• Broderick Jones, Lithonia: Jones is the highest-rated offensive line recruit in Georgia and the consensus No. 2 tackle nationally. As did Ratledge, Jones played significantly as a defensive end last season, was second on his team in tackles and picked up four sacks. Noted for his quickness and feet, Jones (6-5, 275) is committed to Georgia.
• Tate Ratledge, Darlington: Ratledge (6-6, 320) was first-team all-state as a junior. He’ll join Hinton at the postseason All-American Bowl in Texas.
• Micah Morris, Camden County: The only junior on the list, Morris is a potential five-star recruit. He’s rated the No. 32 overall player in the class of 2021. He was the only sophomore lineman to make first-team all-Region 1-AAAAAAA last season. Morris (6-4, 315) is a left tackle with an NFL frame.
• Paul Tchio, Milton: Tchio was the ringleader of an offensive line that led Milton to its first state championship in 2018 and was named first-team all-state. He was credited with more than 100 knockdown blocks. Tchio also played a little defense (22 tackles) and Wildcat quarterback. Tchio (6-5, 300) is a four-star recruit committed to Clemson.
• John Williams, Creekview: Williams (6-5, 270) was a first-team all-state member and the most heavily recruited from Creekview’s historic 2018 team that went 12-1. Williams is a top-400 national prospect who has committed to Clemson.
• Jordan Williams, Gainesville: His coach, Heath Webb, believes Williams is a better high school player than was Baltimore Ravens tackle Orlando Brown, whom Webb coached while an assistant at Peachtree Ridge. Williams (6-6, 300) is committed to Georgia Tech.
• Trey Zimmerman, Roswell: Zimmerman was the best lineman on Roswell’s region championship team in 2018, when he made first-team all-state. Zimmerman (6-6, 294) is committed to North Carolina.
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