Best players by position: Tight ends flourishing in Georgia

August 21, 2021 Atlanta - Collins HillÕs Ethan Davis (9) makes a move after a catch during the 2021 Corky Kell Classic on Saturday, August 21, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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August 21, 2021 Atlanta - Collins HillÕs Ethan Davis (9) makes a move after a catch during the 2021 Corky Kell Classic on Saturday, August 21, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Georgia’s most talented football position this season is tight end, and it’s not even close.

Seven tight ends are rated among Georgia’s top 25 players as seniors or juniors, according to the 247Sports Composite. All seven are four-star recruits and top-250 players nationally. By contrast, only two Georgia quarterbacks meet those criteria.

These elite tight ends are seniors Ethan Davis of Collins Hill (No. 5 overall in Georgia), Jelani Thurman of Hughes (No. 7) and Lawson Luckie of Norcross (No. 23) and juniors Landon Thomas of Colquitt County (No. 5), Martavious Collins of Rome (No. 18), Walter Matthews of Hiram (No. 19) and Michael Smith of Calvary Day (No. 22).

The Georgia Power 100 tight ends also include River Ridge’s Jackson Head, whose offers are slim but whose 2021 receiving production was on par or better than any and deserves his due.

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

*Martavious Collins, Rome: A junior, Collins (6-3, 240) is the second most highly rated prospect in Rome history behind AJC 2017 state player of the year Adam Anderson. Collins (left) has 46 receptions for 597 yards and three touchdowns in 21 career games. Collins committed to what he called “my dream school” Alabama on July 20.

*Ethan Davis, Collins Hill: Davis, a first-team all-region performer in football and basketball, had 61 receptions for 755 yards and eight touchdowns for the Class 7A champions in 2021. He’s a consensus top-100 national recruit. Davis (6-5, 220) committed to Tennessee in December.

*Jackson Head, River Ridge: Head had 47 receptions for 695 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2021, when he was named first-team all-state by Recruit Georgia and the GACA. His size (6-3, 225) and academics are a plus. Head has offers from Army, Columbia and Lenoir-Rhyne.

*Lawson Luckie, Norcross: Luckie was named the Gwinnett TD Club’s tight end of the year in 2021, when he had 34 receptions for 337 yards on an 8-4 Class 7A team. He averaged a 94.7% blocking grade and delivered 48 pancake blocks. He also rushed for four touchdowns. Luckie (6-3, 225) committed to Georgia in June.

*Walter Matthews, Hiram: Matthews (6-7, 250) is a two-sport star, the consensus No. 133 recruit nationally and tje top prospect in Hiram history. ESPN rates him the No. 1 junior Y (blocking) tight end in the country. Matthews had 12 receptions for 235 yards and two touchdowns in only seven games for a 1-9 team last season but made first-team all-region. He also was first-team all-region in basketball as a power forward on a region-winning, top-10 team. Vanderbilt and Florida are his reported leaders.

*Mike Smith, Calvary Day: Smith had 42 receptions for 774 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021 for a 12-1 Class A Private team. Smith (6-4, 225) reportedly favors Kentucky, Miami and Central Florida.

*Landen Thomas, Colquitt County: Thomas is the consensus No. 1 junior tight end prospect nationally and Colquitt County’s top prospect at any position this century, if not all-time. Thomas was first-team all-region as a sophomore in 2021, when he had 31 receptions for 516 yards and seven touchdowns. Thomas (6-4, 230) committed to Georgia in July.

*Jalani Thurman, Hughes: Thurman had 31 receptions for 479 yards and seven touchdowns as a tight end and had 30 solo tackles as a defensive end for the Class 6A runner-up in 2021. He made first-team all-region. Thurman (6-6, 225) is a top-100 national recruit, according to 247Sports, and committed to Ohio State in July. Thurman’s father is former Georgia and NFL linebacker Odell Thurman, and his mother is former Georgia and WNBA forward Kara Braxton. Jelani and his mother are the same height.

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