Top players by position: Brown extends Parkview’s run of great backs

Parkview running back Cody Brown (7) dives for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game against Colquitt County last season. (Jason Getz/Special)
Parkview running back Cody Brown (7) dives for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game against Colquitt County last season. (Jason Getz/Special)

If a Georgia football team wanted to call itself Running Back High School, which team might have the rights on that? How about Parkview?

The Panthers’ first all-state running back was Brett Milliken in 1995. He rushed for 6,923 yards for his career and played four seasons at Georgia. Brad Lester and Sean Dawkins were elite backs on those 2000-02 state-championship teams. Lester played at Auburn, and Dawkins played at Troy, where he is now the school’s running backs coach.

In 2006, Caleb King rushed for 2,768 yards, the state record for the highest classification. King played briefly in the NFL. Brandon Jacobs rushed for more than 1,500 yards as a senior in 2008 and signed with Auburn but decided to pursue a pro baseball career.

Then came Chris Carson. He has rushed for 1,000-plus yards the past two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. At Parkview, he rushed for 1,146 yards as a senior in 2012.

Christian Malloy, who rushed for 316 yards in a 2017 game, went on to play at Georgia Tech.

And the latest is Cody Brown, who is aiming for his third straight 1,500-yard rushing season. Brown, a four-star recruit committed to Tennessee, is the highest-rated RB prospect in Georgia this season.

Here is a look at 10 of the state’s best running backs for 2020.

*Cody Brown, Parkview: Brown rushed for 1,588 yards as sophomore, 1,676 as a junior. He’s the consensus No. 9 running back prospect nationally among seniors.

*Gabe Ervin, Buford: Ervin rushed for 1,210 yards and 12 touchdowns on 179 carries in 2019 for a 14-1 state-winning team. That’s despite injuries and sharing the backfield with other Division I recruits, which won’t change much in 2020 as Buford remains loaded at the position. Ervin is a three-star recruit with several Power 5-conference offers. As for Running Back H.S., yes, Buford has an argument, too. Ervin, who committed to Nebraska in June, is Buford’s fifth major Division I prospect at the position over the past four seasons behind Elijah Turner, Derrian Brown, Anthony Grant and Christian Turner.

*Jamie Felix, Camden County: Felix is the highest-rated Georgia RB recruit among juniors, a top-150 national prospect overall and Camden’s most highly recruited running back in history. (Remember that Camden legend Stump Mitchell wasn’t a big-time recruit.) Felix rushed for 1,123 yards as a sophomore, 738 as a freshman. At 5-10, 205 pounds, he’s a powerful runner. Florida is his reported leader.

*Cameron Garnett, Harlem: Garnett rushed for 1,066 yards as a freshman, then played primarily as a linebacker as a sophomore. As a junior in 2019, he ran for 1,363 yards in just eight games. Garnett (6-1, 210 pounds) is a three-star prospect that some view as a linebacker.

*Justice Haynes, Blessed Trinity: Haynes rushed for 1,754 yards and 18 touchdowns on 205 carries as a freshman on a Class 4A championship team. Though not big at 5-8, 170 pounds, he already has offers from Penn State, Georgia Tech and Miami. Haynes is the son of former Georgia running back Verron Haynes (i.e., Hobnail Boot).

*Quintavious Lockett, Douglass: Lockett rushed for more than 2,100 yards and 32 touchdowns last season on a 2A team that went 11-2 and reached the state quarterfinals for the first time since 1995. Lockett comes from the school that produced NFL running backs James Davis and Jamal Lewis. He’s a four-star recruit with offers from Georgia and Georgia Tech.

*Phil Mafah, Grayson: Mafah was injured for much of 2019 but rushed for 345 yards in three playoff games and 676 for the season. He’s run for 1,396 yards in his career, averaging 8.8 yards per carry while playing in the highest classification. A four-star recruit and the highest-rated RB prospect in Grayson history, Mafah committed to Clemson in August of 2019.

*Antonio Martin, Hughes: Martin quietly rushed for 1,535 yards and 16 touchdowns for a 2-8 team last season, but major colleges have noticed, and he’s now a four-star recruit and the No. 22 overall prospect in Georgia among juniors, according to 247Sports. Several ACC, Big Ten and SEC schools have offered him. Martin is the most highly recruited running back in Hughes history.

*David Mbadinga, Kell: Mbadinga rushed for 1,318 yards and 11 touchdowns as a 14-year-old freshman last year on a 9-3 team in one of Class 5A’s toughest regions. Mbadinga, at just 5-8, 150 pounds, had another 276 yards receiving for 1,594 yards from scrimmage. His coach, Brett Sloan, called him his team’s hardest-working player and noted he had a 4.0 GPA. Kansas State and Michigan State in April were the first to offer, but that list will only grow. Mbadinga is Kell’s best running back since Jonathan Dwyer in 2006.

*Malachi Thomas, Hart County: Thomas was the Class 3A offensive player of the year in 2019, when he compiled a staggering 2,862 all-purpose yards – 1,942 rushing, 638 receiving, 282 returning – and scored 36 touchdowns. Thomas committed to Virginia Tech on July 22.

Coming Thursday: Wide receivers

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