• Gilbert, Gibbs, Hudson lead running for Player of the Year

    By: Todd Holcomb, AJC Sports


    For the past nine seasons, GHSF Daily has kept track of some of the state's elite players in a weekly feature called Player of the Year Watch. This season, the POW Watch will appear only monthly.

    With the regular season one-third complete, here are the 10 players that GHSF Daily projects will have the most attractive POY resumes in December from the vantage of mid-September. Unlike all-state teams, which reflect individual talents alone, the POY Watch considers factors such as team success and even position and recruiting status, things that POY Watch voters are biased toward when voting for these awards. 

    1. Arik Gilbert, Marietta: Gilbert is an uncommitted five-star recruit on a state contender in the highest classification. And he's not mere potential. He's a producer. The tight end/wide receiver has 28 receptions for 530 yards and three touchdowns in four games against a nasty schedule. It didn't help that Marietta, previously ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAAAA and No. 5 nationally by USA Today, lost to Grayson 28-14 last week, but Gilbert did just fine - four receptions, 100 yards - and Marietta remains a major threat to win its first state title since 1967. 

    2. Jahmyr Gibbs, Dalton: Gibbs, a relatively unheralded 1,000-yard rusher a year ago who has committed to Georgia Tech, has put up the most eye-popping offensive numbers in the state. In just three games, all Catamount victories, Gibbs has rushed for 825 yards and 16 touchdowns on 57 carries. He also returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown last week against Sequoyah. That's 17 touchdowns in three games. Dalton is 3-0 and ranked No. 9 in Class AAAAAA. 

    3. Kobe Hudson, Troup: Hudson, committed to Auburn as a wide receiver, is the most productive dual-threat quarterback in the state and plays for 3-0 team ranked No. 3 in AAAA. Hudson is 34-of-49 passing for 640 yards and nine touchdowns with two interceptions. He has rushed for 411 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries. He passed for 3,386 yards and rushed for 1,410 with a hand in 50 touchdowns last season. 

    4. Tank Bigbsy, Callaway: Bigsby, the top-rated running back recruit in Georgia, has rushed for 465 yards and seven touchdowns on 36 carries. That's 12.9 yards per attempt. Callaway is 2-1, losing to an Alabama team, and is ranked No. 3 in Class AA. Bigsby is committed to Auburn. 

    5. Tate Rodemaker, Valdosta: Rodemaker is 53-of-74 passing (.716 completion percentage) for 785 yards and 13 touchdowns for a 4-0 team that is ranked No. 1 in AAAAAA, and Rodemaker is a proven commodity. He threw for 3,518 yards last season. He's also an outstanding punter, as he averaged 47.4 yards on four punts in a victory over Colquitt County last week. Rodemaker is committed to South Florida. 

    6. Daijun Edwards, Colquitt County: Edwards will go down as one of the top running backs, if not players, in Packers history. He's closing in on 4,000 career rushing yards and 60 touchdowns. This season, he's rushed for 337 yards and three touchdowns on 45 carries and caught six passes for 115 yards. An uncommitted three-star recruit, Edwards might need for Colquitt to win the title to have a realistic shot because the Packers have a balanced offense and another POY candidate, QB Jaycee Harden, who has thrown for 883 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

    7. Sergio Allen, Peach County: Allen is the leader of the No. 1 team in Class AAA. Excuse Peach for not doing the nearly impossible, which is to open the season with three straight wins over AAAAAA competition, but the Trojans have a 2-1 record against three top-10 teams from that class. Allen has 14 solo tackles, two four losses, one sack and an interception that he returned for a touchdown. Allen is a four-year starter, a Clemson commit and a winner. 

    8. Harrison Bailey, Marietta: Bailey is 80-of-134 passing for 1,111 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions. He was picked off four times in the 28-14 loss to Grayson. That hurts, but he's got plenty of talent and time to overcome that. Bailey is committed to Tennessee. 

    9. Wesley Steiner, Houston County: Steiner might be a long shot, but if the Bears - suddenly ranked No. 5 in AAAAAA after their victory over Peach County - can make a run, this is the team's marquee player, a rising four-star recruit. Steiner has eight solo tackles, three for losses, and one sack. He has 74 yards rushing on just three carries. Steiner is committed to Auburn. 

    10. Hunter Costlow, Jones County: Costlow is getting the recruiting attention that one might expect for a 5-foot-10, 190-pound pocket-passing quarterback, but he gets the ball in the hands of play-makers as well as anyone. Costlow has thrown for 1,077 yards and 13 touchdowns with no interceptions during the Greyhounds' 4-0 start. He was 28-of-38 passing for 420 yards and six touchdowns in a 56-33 victory over Northside of Warner Robins. That's the most points ever scored against Northside. Jones County is ranked No. 5 in AAAAA. 

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