An early look at the state's top 15 college football prospects for the class of 2014 (list will be updated throughout season, and some player rankings will change)
DeShaun Watson, QB, Gainesville High School: He’s the state’s best QB prospect since a kid named Cam played at Westlake High School in 2007. Even before Watson began his senior year, what more did he need to prove? The 5-star had already won a state championship, held the state’s career passing records for yards and touchdown passes (with a year left to play) and had offers from most of the top colleges. Watson committed to Clemson as a sophomore, but took visits to UGA and Auburn last spring. He’s a sure bet to sign with Clemson unless offensive coordinator Chad Morris is hired away to be a head coach.
Lorenzo Carter, DE, Norcross: Alabama was rumored to be his early leader but Carter surprised many over the summer by publicly declaring Florida as his frontrunner. UGA has gained some ground, and appears to be Carter’s second favorite school. Former UGA football player Marcus Jackson is Carter’s position coach at Norcross. This recruiting battle will play out until February’s signing day, and it’s hard to bet against Alabama with its track record of getting so many elite players out of Norcross.
Nick Chubb, RB, Cedartown: Chubb put up Nintendo-like stats as a junior, but nobody really paid attention because he did it against less-than-spectacular competition. However, after Chubb dominated practices at a junior all-star game, he turned everybody into believers. He earned 5-star status after finishing third out of 161 of the nation’s top prospects in the SPARQ athletic skills contest at The Opening at Nike headquarters in July. He committed to UGA over Auburn and South Carolina.
Cortez McDowell, DB, Locust Grove: McDowell is a two-sport star who could get drafted to play professional baseball as an outfielder. He proved to be the state’s top defensive back at the RisingSeniors.com all-star game. He’s a super-sized safety with an extra gear of speed. McDowell committed to Tennessee over UGA and Auburn. He showed a lot of class by publicly apologizing to UGA fans over comments that were misinterpreted.
Korie Rogers, LB, Buford: Rogers would likely be more highly-rated by the recruiting services if he had attended camps and combines over the summer. He’s a big kid who can stuff the middle at inside linebacker, yet has the athleticism to play outside linebacker and drop back into pass coverage. Rogers committed to Clemson over his childhood favorite, UGA.
Raekwon McMillan, LB, Liberty County: His co-leaders are Alabama and Ohio State, followed by Clemson, UGA and Florida. McMillan plans to take official visits to all five schools. His high school coach is former UGA tight end Kirk Warner, who McMillan has praised for not pushing any school, including the Bulldogs. This one will play out until January.
Malkom Parrish, DB, Brooks County: UGA beat out Georgia Tech in a rare head-to-head recruiting battle for a top in-state prospect. Parrish stars at quarterback in high school but will shift to corner in college.
Dontavius Russell, DT, Carrollton: He’s a role model as a student-athlete with a 3.6 GPA and All-State accolades. He committed on April Fool’s Day 2013 to UGA over Florida, Alabama and Auburn.
Kendall Baker, OL-DL, Marist: If Baker had hit the combine circuit as an offensive lineman rather than a defensive lineman, some believe he could’ve sky-rocketed in the national rankings, especially since Georgia’s OL class this year is historically shallow. Baker committed to UGA over Florida State and Auburn. He’ll get a shot to play defensive line in college but is open to trying OL if he’ll play sooner.
Elisha Shaw, DT, Tucker: Shaw passes all of the eyeball tests but nobody knows exactly what he can do because he’s been hindered by injuries (knee surgery, jammed neck, etc). He could rise in the rankings as a top-five player with a solid senior season. Alabama, UGA and Ole Miss are his leaders.
Demarre Kitt, WR, Sandy Creek: He’s the state’s top wide receiver in a weak class of prospects at that position out of Georgia this year. Kitt is not as fast as some scouts would like. They love his route-running and fearlessness in going over the middle. Kitt was an early commitment to UGA, re-opened his recruitment because he felt like he rushed things, and picked Clemson over Ohio State and Florida State as a senior.
Kendarius Webster, DB, Stockbridge: The AJC Super 11 selection was rumored to be on the brink of committing to UGA last spring, and then to Ole Miss over the summer. Neither happened for Webster, who is waiting until Oct. 4 to make his decision between Ole Miss and Florida State. UGA is also making a late charge. This one could also play out for a while as Webster plans to take official visits to at least those three schools after committing.
Dominick Sanders, DB, 5-11, 185, Tucker: He may be the state’s most overlooked prospect for 2014. Sanders is a legit 5-11 (I stood next to him) and is an explosive playmaker. He looked like the best player on the field in Tucker’s contests against Marist and Cedar Grove – which both featured a ton of college prospects. Missouri and Arkansas are his leaders but expect a lot more schools to get involved by the end of the season.
Demarquis Gates, LB, 6-2, 205, Lovejoy: Gates was under-recruited as a junior, and committed early to Ole Miss. He is on the watchlist with many other colleges as a senior.
Bryson Allen-Williams, DE, 6-2, 215, Cedar Grove: Bryson is nearly un-blockable as a high school defensive end but projects to play linebacker in college. He committed early to South Carolina.