This will be GHSF Daily’s final Player of the Year Watch for the 2016 season.
Unlike in past weeks, today’s list grades each contender on three scales that tend to shape player-of-the-year elections.
Those scales are statistics, team and stature. Players putting up big numbers and chasing records are favored. Those whose teams go deep in the state playoffs are smiled upon. And finally, big-name players who play marquee positions typically have an edge.
QB Trevor Lawrence, Cartersville
Lawrence is 168-of-266 passing (63.2 percent) for 2,641 yards and 32 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Those numbers will swell in the playoffs, when Lawrence’s services will be needed for all four quarters.
Cartersville is 10-0, ranked No. 1 in Class AAAA, sporting a 25-game winning streak and heavily favored to win a second consecutive state championship. Lawrence would get an A+ if he played in a higher classification.
Lawrence is the consensus No. 1 junior recruit in the nation. Lawrence would get an A+ if he were a senior. Juniors typically don’t win this honor. Those who have include Jake Fromm in 2015 (Gatorade), Deshaun Watson in 2012 (AP) and Robert Nkemdiche in 2010 (AJC, AP).
QB Davis Mills, Greater Atlanta Christian
Mills is 105-of-150 passing (70.0 percent) for 1,651 yards and 25 touchdowns with only one interception. Mills missed two games with an injury. He’s starting to get hot and could put up excellent numbers in the playoffs.
GAC is 9-1 and ranked No. 1 in Class AAA, although not as heavily favored as Cartersville in AAAA.
Mills is the consensus No. 1 recruit in Georgia and No. 2 pro-style quarterback prospect nationally. He is committed to Stanford.
QB K’hari Lane, Macon County
Lane is 149-of-235 passing (63.4 percent) for 2,857 yards and 45 touchdowns with no interceptions. The 45 touchdowns are nine short of Hutson Mason’s single-season record. Strength of schedule is not high, however.
Macon County is 8-2 and ranked No. 2 in the Class A public-school division. The last Class A player to win this award was Washaun Ealey in 2007 with Emanuel County Institute. Nick Marshall of Wilcox County came close in 2009.
Lane, perhaps due to height (6-2), is not yet a major Division I prospect.
QB Jake Fromm, Houston County
Fromm, whose season is done, was 244-of-383 passing (63.7 percent) for 3,910 yards and 41 touchdowns with nine interceptions. His season yards rank fifth all-time in Georgia, though less than the 4,073 yards he threw for in 2015, when his team played 13 games.
Houston County failed to make the playoffs but did finish 7-3 and maintained a ranking of No. 10 in the AJC and Georgia Sports Writers Association polls. The last player to win the state player-of-the-year award whose team didn’t make the playoffs was Billy Ray of Dunwoody in 1985.
Fromm is the consensus No. 4 pro-style quarterback prospect in the nation. Fromm is committed to Georgia.
RB Zay Malcome, Westminster
Malcome has rushed for 1,357 yards and 17 touchdowns on 159 carries (8.5 yards per carry). He has 16 receptions for 187 yards and a touchdown. He has returned two kickoffs and one interception for touchdowns.
Westminster, the reigning Class AAA champion, is 8-2 and ranked No. 3.
Malcome, who stands only 5 feet, 4 inches, has offers from seven Ivy League schools and the three service academies.
DB/WR/ATH Richard LeCounte, Liberty County
LeCounte has 1,204 all-purpose yards and scored 17 touchdowns – 13 receiving and four returning kicks and interceptions. He has 63 tackles.
Liberty County is 9-1 and ranked No. 7 in AAA.
LeCounte, the consensus No. 2 prospect in Georgia and No. 26 nationally, is committed to Georgia.
QB Tylan Morton, Griffin
Morton is 222-of-318 passing (69.8 percent) for 3,610 yards and 34 touchdowns with nine interceptions. The state record for passing yards in a season is 4,560, set by Hutson Mason in 2009.
Griffin is 9-1 and ranked No. 10 in Class AAAAA. Griffin, having not played a ranked team, is unpredictable.
Morton, a lanky 6 feet, 4 inches, is not yet a major Division I prospect largely for lack of film and exposure.
DE Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant, Crisp County
Through nine games, Bryant had 60 total tackles, 10.5 sacks, 23 tackles for losses and 51 QB hurries.
Crisp County is 10-0 and ranked No. 5 in Class AAA.
Bryant is the consensus No. 22 senior recruit in Georgia.
QB Ryan Glover, Woodward Academy
Glover is 116-of-172 passing for 2,230 yards and 27 touchdowns with two interceptions.
Woodward Academy is 9-1 and ranked No. 3 in Class AAAA.
Glover is committed to Oklahoma State.
DB Xavier McKinney, Roswell
McKinney is the leading tackler (43 solo) at safety for a team allowing just 7.5 points per game. Roswell has not allowed more than 14 points in any game.
Roswell is 10-0 and ranked No. 2 in Class AAAAAA.
McKinney is the consensus No. 10 player in Georgia and No. 8 safety prospect nationally.
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