Top players by position: ‘Athletes’ make impact all over field

Lanier wide receiver Cole Thornton (1) fights off Dacula defensive back Kaleb Edwards (22) as he runs out of bounds during the first half of a high school football game between Lanier and Dacula at Dacula High School in Dacula, Ga., on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018. (Casey Sykes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Casey Sykes

Credit: Casey Sykes

Call them what you want: athletes, two-way players, dual threats.

They are players that affect the game in multiple ways and often don’t spend enough time at one position to pile up the statistics for the credit they deserve.

One of the best is Dacula’s Kaleb Edwards, who had more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage and over 80 tackles last season.

‘‘He’s a coach’s kid, which gives him a good understanding of the game,’' Dacula coach Clint Jenkins. ‘‘His dad is our wide receivers coach. I think that helps his versatility.‘'

Plus he’s athletic, thus the term ‘‘athlete’' to describe players of Edwards’ ilk.

‘‘Intelligent guy, really good with the ball in his hands, very strong, runs through a lot of tackles,’' Jenkins said.

These 10 are the latest members of the Georgia Power 100.

*Deyon Bouie, Bainbridge: Bouie is a five-star junior recruit and the highest-rated at the athlete position this century, surpassing former Elbert County player Mecole Hardman, though his 247Composite rating is not final. Bouie started as a freshman on Bainbridge’s Class 5A championship team. He even played quarterback some that year but specialized as a cornerback and had 30 solo tackles. He also plays wide receiver and has 796 yards from scrimmage in his two seasons.

*Shad Dabney, Cherokee Bluff: Dabney had 2,500 all-purpose yards and 29 touchdowns in 2019 for Riverside Military Academy, a Class A Public school that decided not to play football this fall because of COVID-19 concerns. Dabney chose to stay in his native Hall County to play for Cherokee Bluff. Syracuse is the reported leader for Dabney, a three-star recruit who is viewed as a cornerback in college.

*Kaleb Edwards, Dacula: Edwards rushed for 1,153 yards and 15 touchdowns, caught 29 passes for 566 yards and three scores and had 86 tackles, four interceptions and 10 pass breakups for a 13-1 Class 6A semifinal team. He was a unanimous first-team all-state player in 6A. A consensus three-star recruit, Edwards committed to Georgia Tech last month.

*Caleb McDowell, Lee County: McDowell likely will play only on offense as a running back and receiver this year except for some kick-return duty. In 2019, he made 87 tackles, broke up eight passes in the secondary and was a unanimous first-team all-state player as a defensive back. He also had 629 yards from scrimmage on just 48 touches and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. A consensus three-star recruit, McDowell is committed to South Carolina as a running back.

*Tyler Morehead, Clinch County: Morehead rushed for 1,543 yards with 19 touchdowns last season and made three first-team all-state teams at quarterback, where he usually lined up, and running back. Clinch doesn’t throw much. Morehead also had 54 tackles and three interceptions and scored touchdowns returning a fumble and a kickoff. A top-500 national recruit, Morehead is strongly considering East Carolina and N.C. State.

*Joshua Pickett, Habersham Central: Another WR/DB type, Pickett had 750 yards receiving, returned one kickoff for a touchdown and made 61 tackles for a 3-7 team. He was a GACA first-team all-state player in Class 6A. Recruited as a cornerback, Pickett committed to Duke in February.

*Malaki Starks, Jefferson: A five-star recruit among juniors, Starks rushed for 544 yards and five touchdowns on just 53 carries last season. On defense, he intercepted five passes and made first-team GACA all-state as a defensive back. This season, he’s slated to be the Dragons’ quarterback and play in the secondary again.

*Javin Whatley, Rockmart: Whatley passed for 1,533 yards, completing 65 percent of his attempts, while rushing for 1,150 yards on 116 carries in 2019 for an 11-1 Class 2A team. He was the Region 7-2A player of the year and first-team 2A all-state as an athlete. Whatley is seen as a wide receiver in college and has mid-major offers.

*West Weeks, Oconee County: A unanimous first-team all-state pick last year, Weeks had more than 100 tackles for the Class 4A runner-up. He also had more than 800 all-purpose yards as a receiver and return man. He was thought to be the successor to Max Johnson at quarterback this spring until other players emerged. A consensus three-star recruit at linebacker, Weeks committed to Virginia in May.

*Nathaniel Wiggins, Westlake: Wiggins is a consensus top-125 player nationally and top-10 cornerback among seniors. He was a two-way starter last year at Grady, where he had 30 receptions for 814 yards and nine touchdowns and three interceptions in 10 games. He transferred to Westlake in the offseason. Florida and LSU are believed to be his top college choices.

Coming Monday: Special-teams players

ExploreMore top players by position

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