Preseason all-state teams: Class 4A

Jefferson quarterback Malaki Starks (24) sets up for a handoff during the second half of their Class 4A state high school football final Tuesday, December 29, 2020 in Atlanta. (PHOTO/Daniel Varnado)
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Jefferson quarterback Malaki Starks (24) sets up for a handoff during the second half of their Class 4A state high school football final Tuesday, December 29, 2020 in Atlanta. (PHOTO/Daniel Varnado)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Class 4A

*Best player: Malaki Starks, Jefferson. He rushed for 1,537 yards and 24 touchdowns, threw 11 TD passes and had 41 tackles and two interceptions as a free safety.

*Best position: Athlete. There are lots of versatile, dynamic players in this class, but with Starks hogging the athlete slot on the team, it’s hard to place Benedictine’s John Thomas, the Georgia baseball commit who scored touchdowns rushing (14), receiving (seven) and returning interceptions (two) last year, and another mentioned below.

*Most highly recruited: Two of the state’s five five-star recruits play here. They are Starks (committed to Georgia) and Mykel Williams (Southern Cal).

*That’s interesting: This class has the state’s two most dynamic rising sophomores. Troup quarterback Taeo Todd rushed for 1,457 yards last season. Jefferson running back Sammy Brown rushed for 1,368. Todd is a little guy at 5 feet, 9 inches, while Brown is 6-2, 220, but both are major-college recruits. Brown is on the team, but Todd plays behind Starks at athlete.

*Snubbed: Devin Riles of Carver in Columbus and David Renard of Flowery Branch are ace quarterbacks on top-10 teams.

*Underrated: Marist’s Andrew Mannelly is more than meets the eye, a two-way player who scored his 12th touchdown and recorded his ninth tackle for loss in the Class 4A championship game victory over Jefferson last year. And he’s smart, going to a brainy school (Wofford) on a baseball scholarship.

*What else is new: Carver of Columbus has the most players here with four. Coach Corey Joyner’s Tigers are coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons and have their most talented roster since the days of coach Dell McGee.

OFFENSE

QB - Holden Geriner, Benedictine, Sr.

RB - Sammy Brown, Jefferson, So.

RB - Jerdavian Colbert, Cedar Shoals, Sr.

WR - Adam Hopkins, Thomas County Central, Jr.

WR - Ray Morrison, Northwest Whitfield, Sr.

TE/WR - Daequan Wright, Perry, Sr.

OL - Kam Bing, New Hamstead, Sr.

OL - Donovan Haslam, Perry, Sr.

OL - Steve Nahmias, Marist, Sr.

OL - Elijah Pritchett, Carver (Columbus), Sr.

OL - Kelton Smith, Carver (Columbus), Jr.

PK - Dawson Jones, Marist, Sr.

ATH - Malaki Starks, Jefferson, Sr.

DEFENSE

DL - Cameron Crowell, Carver (Columbus), Sr.

DL - Gabe Harris, Thomas County Central, Jr.

DL - Mykel Williams, Hardaway, Sr.

DE/OLB - Andrew Mannelly, Marist, Sr.

LB - Kadin Bailey, Jefferson, Sr.

LB - Gary Davis, Cairo, Sr.

LB - C.J. Washington, Cedartown, Sr.

LB - Holden Sapp, Benedictine, Sr.

DB - Deyon Bouie, Bainbridge, Sr.

DB - Devon Irving, Hapeville Charter, Sr.

DB - Camerin Marshall, Perry, Jr.

DB - Antonio Watts, Carver (Columbus), Sr.

P - Bridger Jones, Columbus, Sr.

Coming Friday: Class 3A

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