Transfers: Denmark, IMG Academy land top prospects

Former Buford quarterback Aaron McLaughlin
Former Buford quarterback Aaron McLaughlin

Transfers continue to shape the balance of power in Georgia high school football. While the trend continues, it took on a strange flavor this time. Valdosta's best receiver took his talents to the local private school, and Buford lost its quarterback to a school that's barely a year old. IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., continues to siphon off some of the state's top players. Here is a look at some of the more prominent moves.

*Javon Baker, McEachern: Baker left McEachern in midseason last year for Creekside, where he had seven touchdown receptions in six games. He's back at McEachern. Baker is a four-star wide receiver committed to Alabama.

*Aalah Brown, Valwood Christian: Brown, a three-star recruit, caught 56 passes for 930 yards and 11 touchdowns last season as a sophomore at Valdosta. He's third in receiving yardage in school history behind Malcom Mitchell and Stan Rome. Valwood is a Georgia Independent School Association member.

*Lovasea Carroll (et al.), IMG Academy: Carroll is one of several top players who have transferred to IMG, a boarding school in Bradenton, Fla. Carroll, a four-star recruit committed to South Carolina, rushed for 1,446 yards and 19 touchdowns on just 143 carries at Warren County last season. Other elite Georgia players now at IMG are Wayne County guard Weston Franklin, Savannah Christian cornerback Omar Burroughs, Stephenson tackle George Jackson and Thomasville quarterback Chad Mascoe.

*C.J. Ford, Denmark: Ford had 93 tackles as a junior and made first-team all-Region 6-AAAAAAA at South Forsyth as an outside linebacker. He's moving to Forsyth County's newest school, Denmark.

*Rocko Griffin, South Effingham: Griffin rushed for 763 yards and 11 touchdowns on 96 carries for Calvary Day last season. He also was a good receiver and linebacker. Griffin is committed to Vanderbilt.

*Jaden Hardy, Islands: Hardy is a three-star recruit who had a team-leading 12.5 sacks last season at Benedictine. Now he's across town at Islands in Savannah.

*Archer Hathaway, Tift County: Hathaway made all-region teams as a ninth- and 10th-grader at Schley County of Class A. He'll be playing in the highest classification this season.

*E.J. Lackey, Rome: Lackey rushed for 983 yards and 16 touchdowns on 138 carries as a sophomore at Chattooga. He ran for 653 yards as a freshman. He could be Rome's successor to Jamious Griffin, the 2,000-yard rusher now at Georgia Tech.

*Caleb McDowell, Lee County: McDowell, a running back, had more than 1,300 all-purpose yards and scored 16 touchdowns, two on kickoff returns, for Class AAAAA champion Bainbridge last season. He'll be playing for the defending AAAAAA champions this season.

*Aaron McLaughlin, Denmark: McLaughlin, a junior four-star recruit, was 80-of-162 passing for 1,403 yards and 18 touchdowns for Buford, traditionally a run-oriented team. He's moving to Denmark, where he'll team with star wide receiver Ze'Vian Capers. The two are committed to Auburn.

*Jordan Mitchell, Sandy Creek: Mitchell, formerly of Strong Rock Christian, was the defensive player of the year as a junior in Region 5-A, the league with Eagle's Landing Christian. He had 19 tackles for losses and nine sacks last season. Mitchell is a defensive end committed to Maryland.

*Rico Powers, Hapeville Charter: Powers rushed for 1,005 yards and 17 touchdowns on 115 carries and had 28 receptions for 561 yards and 16 touchdowns for Benedictine last season. He'll be a wide receiver at Hapeville. He's a four-star recruit mulling offers from Auburn, South Carolina, Oregon and others.

*Demetrius Rogers, Hebron Christian: Rogers had 70 tackles and two interceptions as a sophomore last season at Darlington. He's also a good running back.

*Mecose Todd, Carrollton: Todd, a three-star recruit with offers from Florida, Michigan and Ole Miss, returned to Carrollton, where he began his high school career, from Villa Rica. He and Brandon Marenco will help form perhaps the best backfield in Class AAAAA.

*Ricky White, Marietta: White caught 55 passes for 1,006 yards in just 10 games for Wheeler last season. He'll join five-star recruit Arik Gilbert and Boston College-commit Taji Johnson to form the state's most star-studded receiver corps. White is committed to Michigan State.

*Ben Whitlock, Johns Creek: Whitlock passed for 2,713 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior for first-year Denmark last season. Denmark has a new quarterback (see McLaughlin above), and Whitlock moved on to Johns Creek.

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