Best players by position: Senior QBs Lonergan, Singleton headed to SEC

August 20, 2021 - Kennesaw, Ga: North Cobb quarterback Malachi Singleton (3) runs for a first down against Buford defensive back Ryland Gandy (8) during the first half at North Cobb high school Friday, August 20, 2021 in Kennesaw, Ga.. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

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August 20, 2021 - Kennesaw, Ga: North Cobb quarterback Malachi Singleton (3) runs for a first down against Buford defensive back Ryland Gandy (8) during the first half at North Cobb high school Friday, August 20, 2021 in Kennesaw, Ga.. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Georgia’s best quarterbacks this season include two who are rated among the 10 best nationally in their recruiting classes, one who stands 3,077 passing yards shy of 10,000 for his career and another who finished in the top 10 all-time in single-season passing yards in the state. In all, the 10 featured here passed for 15.5 miles of yards (27,225) in 2021.

This is the first in a series of 10 feature articles that recognize the state’s best players by position. They are chosen based primarily on high school production, though college potential also is considered. These players are the first official members of GHSF Daily’s Georgia Power 100.

*R.J. Johnson, Westlake: Johnson has thrown for 7488 career yards, the most of any active Georgia quarterback, and has led Westlake to consecutive Class 6A quarterfinal appearances. He was the first-team Class 6A all-state QB as a sophomore, then went behind Carrollton’s M.J. Morris (now at N.C. State) as a junior. The Lions are in Class 7A this season. Johnson (6-2, 200) committed to Toledo over the July 4 weekend.

*Geimere Latimer, Sandy Creek: As a first-year starter at the position last year, Latimer (5-10, 175) was first-team Class 3A all-state and led Sandy Creek to a 9-1 regular-season finish and a victory over No. 1-ranked and eventual 3A champion Cedar Grove before the Patriots were upset in the first round. He was the region player of the year in Cedar Grove’s region. In 11 games, Latimer passed for 2,792 yards and 30 touchdowns and rushed for 454 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s committed to Tulane, where he likely will play receiver or cornerback.

*Dylan Lonergan, Brookwood: A consensus top-10 QB recruit nationally, Lonergan (6-2, 215) is the state’s top senior prospect at the position and the Broncos’ best quarterback in history. He passed for 3,392 yards and 32 touchdowns as a junior, giving him 6,239 passing yards and 57 TD passes for his career. Brookwood was 10-3 in 2021. Lonergan, also a likely high draft pick in baseball, committed in July to play two sports at Alabama.

*Jake Merklinger, Calvary Day: Merklinger (6-3, 185) is the state’s top QB prospect among juniors, rated No. 9 nationally at the position by the 247Sports Composite. He’s rated No. 2 nationally by On3. He’s the highest-rated recruit in Calvary history, not counting Georgia’s Nolan Smith, who finished at IMG Academy. Merklinger has thrown for 4,620 yards and 43 touchdowns with two full seasons left, meaning he’s in position to become a top-10 passer in state history. He has completed 67.8% of his attempts. Calvary was 12-1 in Class A Private last season but now plays in Class 3A. Merklinger also made first-team all-region in basketball.

*Prentiss “Air” Noland, Hughes: Aside from sporting the state’s best QB nickname, Noland was 174-of-271 passing for 2,581 yards and 34 touchdowns with seven interceptions for the Class 6A runner-up in 2021. He’s thrown for 3,929 yards in his career with two seasons remaining. Rated the No. 15 junior quarterback nationally, Noland (6-2, 180) has more than 25 reported offers.

*Aaron Philo, Prince Avenue Christian: As a sophomore last season, Philo (6-2, 190) replaced five-star quarterback Brock Vandagriff and broke Vandagriff’s single-season school records on a 13-2 team that was the Class A Private runner-up. Philo’s 4,540 yards passing in 2021 rank fifth all-time in Georgia. He completed 297 of his 408 attempts for 47 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. He has mid-major offers.

*Cayman Prangley, Kennesaw Mountain: A four-year starter, Prangley (6-2, 200) endured an 0-10 season as a freshman and won his school’s first region title as a junior. He was 93-of-163 passing for 1,942 yards and 25 touchdowns for last season’s 10-2 team. He rushed for 312 yards and seven touchdowns. He does not have many offers yet.

*Malachi Singleton, North Cobb: Georgia’s premier dual-threat quarterback is almost unquestionably Singleton, who has led the Warriors to consecutive 10-2 finishes and region titles and made first-team all-state as a junior last season, when he rushed for 1,037 yards and 25 touchdowns while passing for 2,348 yards and 24 touchdowns. He’s also a charismatic leader. “Everyone gets an inch taller when Malachi walks on the field,” North Cobb coach Shane Queen said. To be sure, @M_3Singleton leads Georgia high school quarterbacks in Twitter followers with 4,729. Singleton (6-1, 225) committed to Arkansas in April.

*Keegan Stover, Rabun County: A transfer from West Forsyth, Stover (6-4, 225) will succeed Gunner Stockton, the four-star quarterback now at Georgia. As a junior, Stover passed for 2,409 yards and 25 touchdowns with only two interceptions for a 5-6 team. He passed for 281 yards and three touchdowns in a first-round loss to Mill Creek. He led West Forsyth to the Class 7A quarterfinals as a sophomore. Stover has no reported offers.

*Kasen Weisman, South Paulding: A three-star recruit and three-year starter, Weisman (6-2, 180) was 120-of-191 passing for 2,035 yards and 17 touchdowns for an 8-3 team that beat two top-10 opponents last season. He rushed for 289 yards and eight scores. Weisman has more than 25 offers, mostly from mid-major schools.

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