Quarterbacks headline 2023 AJC Super 11 team

Quarterbacks and South Georgia have made a forceful comeback to the Super 11, the AJC’s annual preseason choices for the best high school players. Four quarterbacks and five South Georgians made the 39th edition of the Super 11.

The University of Georgia is poised to sign only two Super 11 players, half its average and the same as last year, while Florida State has commitments from three. Georgia Tech has its first Super 11 in more than 10 years.

In 11 paragraphs, here’s a closer look at the newest Super 11. The 2023 season begins Wednesday.

-The four quarterbacks are Benedictine’s Luke Kromenhoek, Hughes’ Prentiss Air Noland, Prince Avenue Christian’s Aaron Philo and Dougherty’s Kameron Davis. The Super 11 quarterback record is five in 2021, when Rabun County’s Gunner Stockton headed the list. Only two made it last year.

- Davis, a 1,000-yard rusher, is usually called a running back, his projected position at Florida State, but he has thrown for more than 5,000 yards for his Albany high school team. Super 11 quarterbacks who became famous at other positions are common and include Malaki Starks, Richard LeCounte, Hines Ward and Champ Bailey.

-There could have been more quarterbacks. Buford quarterback Dylan Raiola, a transfer from Arizona and a Georgia commit, is the consensus No. 1 recruit nationally, but Super 11 historically rewards players for their performance in Georgia. Calvary Day’s Jake Merklinger is another consensus top-10 national quarterback who didn’t make it in an especially strong year for Georgia players overall.

- The five South Georgians are Davis, Kromenhoek, Colquitt County’s Ny Carr and Landen Thomas and Swainsboro’s Demello Jones. No player south of Macon made it last year or in 2019. There were five most recently in 2016.

-Aaron Philo is committed to become the first Super 11 to sign with Georgia Tech since Tri-Cities’ Shamire DeVine in 2012. He would be Tech’s first Super 11 quarterback signee since Greene County’s Josh Nesbitt in 2006.

-Philo is the only Super 11 who is not a top-100 national recruit. He’s rated a three-star prospect outside the top 750, but he’s 27-2 as a starter with a state championship and needs 4,576 yards passing to break Trevor Lawrence’s career state record. He threw for 4,540 last year and 4,598 the year before.

-Florida State is positioned to lead the country in Super 11 signees with four. They are Davis, Kromenhoek, Thomas and Buford’s K.J. Bolden. FSU hasn’t signed a Super 11 player since Stone Mountain’s Markuss Eligwe in 2011 but has 17 in history and three in 2000. The only other out-of-state team to sign four Super 11 players was Alabama in 2011.

-Georgia has commitments from two Super 11 players, the same as last year. They are Jones and Carr. Georgia has averaged signing 4.2 Super 11 players since the award’s inception in 1985, so getting only two apiece after national-championship seasons is ironic. Georgia signed six in 2017, coach Kirby Smart’s first full recruiting season, and six in 2020. Georgia has signed fewer than two Super 11 players twice – in 1992 with Thomasville’s Mike Bobo and in 2004 with Peach County’s Darius Dewberry.

-There are no Super 11 offensive lineman for the first time since 2015. There are no pure running backs, although Jones and Jefferson’s Sammy Brown frequently play the position and Davis plans to be a college running back.

-Colquitt County with Carr and Thomas and Buford with Bolden and Eddrick Houston have two Super 11s apiece. That’s happened 12 previous times, but this is the first for two teams in the same season. Four of the previous 12 teams with Super 11 pairs have won state titles.

-Three Super 11 players have won state titles. They are Kromenhoek, Philo and Noland. Kromenhoek has started on back-to-back champions and started at safety as a sophomore on one.