• Who is going to replace Georgia's best high school football players?

    By: Todd Holcomb, AJC Sports


    Call them the replacements, the next men up. They're taking on bigger roles in 2019, but there are lots of those around the state. But these are not ordinary replacements. These are the ones charged with taking over for some of the biggest stars in Georgia high school football. Here are the 10 most irreplaceable football players who've graduated - and the chosen ones to fill their big cleats:

    *Dominique Blaylock, Walton: Blaylock, now at Georgia, was a four-year starter with 211 receptions for 3,657 yards and 31 touchdowns, plus another 1,541 yards rushing, passing or returning. His spot will be taken by Teagan Bierria, a senior who had 11 receptions for 210 yards and a touchdown last year. "He has great speed and elite athleticism," Walton coach Daniel Brunner said. "He did not get as many looks last year with Dom and another 1,000-yard receiver [Kendall Alford] in the same offense. We are expecting him to fill the void these two left. It's impossible to replace a player like Dom because he's a once-in-a-lifetime talent, but Teagan provides some of the same skills that Dom possess." 

    *Dylan Fromm, Warner Robins: Fromm led Warner Robins to consecutive Class AAAAA finals while throwing for 7,767 yards and 81 touchdowns. Fromm is now at Mercer. The new guy is Jaylen Addie, who was 3-of-6 passing for 101 yards and a touchdown as a sophomore last season. Addie played more often at wide receiver and had 28 receptions for 328 yards and two touchdowns, one of those in the 39-34 victory over crosstown rival Northside. Addie is taller than Fromm at 6 feet, 3 inches (Fromm was 6-0), and Addie's a better runner and all-around athlete. 

    *Jamious Griffin, Rome: Griffin rushed for 2,815 yards - fifth most in state history - with 38 touchdowns in 2018. He ran for 6,400 yards in his career, and Rome was 49-7 in his four seasons. He's now at Georgia Tech. The next man up is Trey Lawrence, a speedster who rushed for 560 yards and 14 touchdowns on just 69 carries as a junior. Other options are power back Nick Burge and Ahijah Blackwell, a mix of the other two, with good speed and power moves. Lawrence (cornerback) and Burge (linebacker) might be needed on defense, so it's unclear whether Rome will have a feature back. Another option is E.J. Burks, a transfer from Chattooga who ran for 1,122 yards as a sophomore. His eligibility remains in question. 

    *Kyle Hamilton, Marist: Hamilton, now at Notre Dame, was a starting receiver and safety who had 30 catches for 804 yards and seven touchdowns and 73 tackles and four interceptions. He also ran two kicks for touchdowns. Marist coach Alan Chadwick has said Hamilton was the best all-around played he's ever coached. Josh Moore will fill Hamilton's two-way starting role this season. He had only six catches as a sophomore, but he had a team-leading seven interceptions and should develop into a Division I recruit. Matthew Houghton and Mitchell Owen, both seniors, are other DB/WR types who will do their best imitations of the former AJC Super 11 standout. 

    *Roman Harrison, Bainbridge: Harrison had 32 tackles for losses - five against Buford in the 23-20 upset victory in the quarterfinals - and was the Class AAAAA defensive player of the year for the state champions. His duties on the defensive line will be shared by junior Eric Sanders and sophomore JaShon Mitchell. Sanders (nine TFL in 2018) became a starter by the end of last season. He's smaller but quick to the point of attack. Mitchell is more physical with a good first step. 

    *Jadon Haselwood, Cedar Grove: A receiver and safety, Haselwood was the all-classification player of the year in 2019, a four-year starter and a member of two state-championship teams. He was a five-star recruit who signed with Oklahoma. His replacement will be sophomore Janiran Bonner, Haselwood's primary backup last season as a freshman. Bonner is 6 feet, 2 inches and 195 pounds, almost identical to Haselwood, and caught 16 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns in 2018. He has offers from Michigan, South Carolina, Baylor and Nebraska. He'll play outside linebacker and safety on defense. Another sophomore, Rashod Dubinion, might more often play Haselwood's old safety position. He's a two-way starter and figures to be Cedar Grove's leading rusher. 

    *Trezmen Marshall, Clinch County: The Panthers went 49-6 with two state titles in Marshall's four seasons. Now a Georgia freshman, Marshall was the Class A public-school defensive player of the year in 2018 while also rushing for 829 yards and 15 touchdowns. His replacement at linebacker will be Xavier Trawick, a transfer from Johnson County. Like Marshall, he'll also play some running back. But he's a more normal 5-11, 185 compared to Marshall's 6-0, 235-pound frame. The player who'll most resemble Marshall will be Darius Dorsey, a 6-1, 230-pound linebacker who started alongside Marshall the past two years. Dorsey will take Marshall's role as the bigger, short-yardage back. 

    *Jake Smith, Blessed Trinity: Smith was Blessed Trinity's quarterback for most of his four-year career. Blessed Trinity was 47-4 in games that Smith played. He threw for 6,077 yards and 60 touchdowns. Blessed Trinity had three quarterbacks competing for the job - freshman John Collier, sophomore Banks Atkins and junior Duncan Reavis - but Atkins was lost to a broken collarbone last week, prompting coach Tim McFarlin to joke, "I may have to suit up." Reavis will start for now. He was a potential starter at strong safety, so Atkins' injury had a ripple effect. Reavis and Collier are good baseball players and all-around athletes. 

    *Jordan Yates, Milton: Yates passed for 2,590 yards, rushed for 958 and led Milton to its first state championship. He's now at Georgia Tech. Jackson Weaver, a senior, will start Friday against Buford, but he and sophomore Devin Farrell will share the load into the season until one emerges as the clear starter. Weaver has been the backup the past two seasons and knows the offense better. "He has a good arm and can extend plays with his feet when needed," Milton coach Adam Clack said. "He would not be considered a dual-threat quarterback but is athletic enough to keep defenses balanced." Clack calls Farrell "a tremendous athlete" who runs well and could play in the secondary when not behind center. He's also a point guard on the basketball team. 

    *Johnathan Youngblood, Eagle's Landing Christian: Youngblood had more than 100 tackles the past two seasons on state championship teams. He was the Class A private-school defensive player of the year in 2018. He's now at Air Force. Taking over for Youngblood at middle linebacker is Deion Fisher, who has the size (6-2, 210) and smarts (1340 on the SAT). "He is a big, strong young man who has the intelligence to take over right where Johnathan left off," ELCA coach Jonathan Gess said. Fisher also is a short-yardage fullback, a role that Youngblood often filled. 

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