NOTE: This is list of players who I or someone I trust has seen play live. In other words the thoughts are from seeing these players play football live with pads on. I really can't go on much else as often highlight films are terribly inaccurate and show only the good a player does. There are a few notable omissions from this list: Dontavious Jackson and Sanders Commings are both not on this list because they were either out for most of the season with an injury (Commings) or are out of the entire season because of that injury (Jackson). I have not yet seen Nick Williams play football in pads; however, I will see him play very soon. I also have not seen Keith Wells in pads – only at a combine. I have not seen Brandon Thompson live in pads. There are others in the state that I have not seen, obviously, but most of them would not be considered top-12 players in the state.
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Safety / Linebacker
One of the top playmakers in South Georgia, Rambo has a lot asked of him at Seminole and for the most part he gets the job done. Playing quarterback and linebacker/safety the entire game can become difficult over time. He's one of only three real options the Indians have.
Strengths: Willing to work; Playmaking ability on offense; A ball hawk on defense, Rambo looks to strip the ball whenever possible; Is put together well – not your average skinny prep star. Makes plays when they are needed; Plays hurt if needed.
Weaknesses: Can take plays off at times (what high schooler doesn't?) – that could catch up if a habit has formed; far superior to anyone he's going up against in high school – will that translate in college? Can he dish out the punishing shots at the college level? Will the game be too fast in college for a guy used to A football?
Someone close to Georgia's program called Glenn "the most important player left out there." No kidding. Glenn is arguably the top pure tackle in the South – colleges have been doing flips to get him to their school.
Strengths: Big; smart; Glenn is just what a team wants on the edge; Wide arms – Glenn won't have to learn a ton in college – just enough to make him effective.
Weaknesses: Glenn was suspended two games recently for fighting – what's going on there? That's a concern. He's got to polish his technique – it's not perfect; Can seem distant at times.
VIDEO: None at this time
Those at the scrimmage between Statesboro and ECI in August said Lanier was the best defensive tackle on the field that day… hum, better than DeAngelo Tyson? The point is this kid is good. He was one of the few players to get the best of Ben Jones at Georgia's summer camp – that alone should get him some reward. Watch out for him, Lanier looks like the best defensive lineman out there in 2009.
Strengths: Big boy; Still, he's lost most of the gut he had coming into the season; Most observers think he could rival the sort of dominance Tyson has had the last few years; Lanier seemed to have a very determined streak in him during the summer – a great intangible to have
Weaknesses: More needs to be learned about Lanier before pronouncing any one glaring weakness; Like Harmon, Lanier needs to be mindful of his weight.
Boykin has been underrated for most of the recruiting process, now he's getting the praise he deserves. A dynamic high school athlete, Boykin has brought life to Fayette County's football program – many had given up on it being dead. Matt Daniels, Boykin's talented teammate, is probably having the most surprising fall of any player in Metro Atlanta. That helps Fayette's chances, but Boykin gets the ball rolling by playing quarterback and cornerback.
Strengths: Speed; Boykin has great closing speed; it seems to me that he has good hips; He just makes plays on offense; that means he will likely have good defensive ball skills when he gets to college; taking the ball away is a favorable attribute for a college corner to have
Weaknesses: Boykin is not huge; Like most corners coming into college, Boykin is going to have to get more upper-body strength before Georgia will depend on him; I've not seen him have to deal with a college-level receiver in pads yet – I'd like to see that, too.
The highest junior on this list, Davis does it all for Tucker. He's averaging 78.8 yards a game as a rarely-used fullback. He and the rest of his Tiger buddies are allowing 1.2 points a game – 1.2 points per game. Davis leads Tucker with 42 total tackles, one sack and eight tackles-for-loss. This while playing on a defense that has no less than five division one players on it – trust me, he's the best on the field any night he plays.
Strengths: Just a pure football player; Can really run – both with the ball and to it; non-stop motor; will play linebacker in college – that's a good think because he's always around the ball; very impressive to watch; plays hurt, too; avoids blockers by running around them – and is still in position after that – like watching a controlled tornado play football.
Weaknesses: Size; that's about it; some say he's too small, but that hasn't stopped a who's who of college coaches from checking him out.
Big and bad – Harmon could line up for most any college right now – Clemson or Georgia would love to have him in a rotation. Harmon will have to figure out if he wants to stick with the Tigers if they have a new head coach after the New Year. On the field, Harmon is probably the baddest dude around.
Strengths: I had kind of given up on Harmon after the Scout.com Camp in Atlanta earlier this year – he didn't play well. When I saw him crush Burke County, however, I realized I had judged too quickly. Harmon has unreal foot speed. He's got solid hands – a terrifying grip. Cornelious Washington couldn't have been having that much fun picking his helmet up off the ground thanks to a bone-jarring block from Harmon.
Weaknesses: Which Harmon am I getting? The one that from that Friday night in August or the one from this past spring? Am I getting the defensive tackle? I don't want that guy – I want the offensive guard who seems on his way to the NFL; Also, Harmon is well aware that his weight could be an issue – he must keep it in check.
Arguably having the best year of any lineman in the state, Jackson has been burning it up for Griffin. I don't see how he can avoid playing defensive tackle in college – he's a beast.
Strengths: Prototypical football size – just perfect for college. This kid is going to be hell on wheels when his time comes. In the end Jackson is what he is – a great college prospect.
Weaknesses: Many are worried about off-the-field academic issues with Jackson more than anything else – it's hard to know what to make of all that; He got whipped a couple of times at the Scout.com Camp in May – it happens.
The prototypical college wide receiver – a sexy wide receiver. Southern Cal will love him – he's got just what they use right now at that spot.
Strengths: Great route runner; A pretty big wide receiver who can go up and get the ball with both hands over smallish high school cornerbacks; Can't be consistently challenged in high school football – not even in football-saturated Gwinnett County
Weaknesses: Physically there are no problems – Butler, according to some, pouts when things don't go his way. That may just be him being a young kid; Catching the ball in college won't be as easy with legit cover corners on you – just ask A.J. Green what his day was like against Miami's Washington High.
King can't seem to avoid catching at least two touchdowns a game. He was the most dynamic playmaker I have seen this season. He just catches the ball. He just scores touchdowns – what more do you want from a receiver? He may have had the best individual game I saw this fall save Tucker's Davis, and he was out the entire third quarter with cramps and was being thrown the ball by the back-up quarterback – a true freshman.
Strengths: He just catches the ball; he just scores touchdowns; great hands; a long player; quality kid.
Weaknesses: Not huge; has added mass since junior season, perhaps at the expense of speed – if not his speed is not unreal for the college level; Then again if you don't catch the ball it does not matter how fast you are; Needs to continue to get stronger, which he appears to be doing; Can he handle the physical nature of the SEC? Can he get off the line of scrimmage in college effectively?
A linebacker at the college level, Samuel forced three fumbles the night I went to see him play Villa Rica. He's fast, strong and extremely athletic. Samuel was pounding Villa Rica's kids – and they were very big and athletic. He appears ready to play in the SEC right now.
Strengths: Explosive; a powerful hitter and runner; so powerful, in fact, that officials have asked him to "stop hitting so hard" during games; The fact that he's an above average running back in high school shows just how athletic he is; a ball hunter on defense
Weaknesses: Not many; could play running back at Georgia, but will likely be a linebacker from start to finish; To play in the SEC he will have to add some mass, but not so much that his speed suffers
DeAngelo Tyson sure seems like the can't-miss recruit a college coach dreams about. Every scouting service has him as high as possible. He is the most dominant player on the line I have seen this season. Maybe you could thrown Ben Jones in there, but when I saw Jones live a few weeks ago even he wasn't as stunning out there.
Strengths: Naturally plays low; Has the ability to knock down passes even though he's not tall; Can play the run well; Can't be blocked in high school; Moves well down the line of scrimmage and has good hands
Weaknesses: Very few weaknesses; Had a knee injury last winter, but that checked out ok and has played the entire season; Crushes high school foes who don't match up physically – will that be as easy in college?