Top players by position: Georgia remains hot spot for QB prospects

Trevor Lawrence

Trevor Lawrence is the consensus No. 1 player nationally in the 2018 graduating class. He is committed to Clemson. (Daniel Varnado/Special to AJC)

Georgia has been the hottest state for quarterback prospects since Deshaun Watson’s days at Gainesville. The former Red Elephant led Clemson to a national title last season.

A year ago, the state produced the No. 1 and No. 3 pro-style QB prospects nationally in Davis Mills of Greater Atlanta Christian (signed with Stanford) and Jake Fromm of Houston County (Georgia), respectively, according to 247Sports’ Composite Ratings.

This season tops even that.

Georgia now has the No. 1 pro-style QB (Trevor Lawrence) and the No. 1 dual-threat QB (Justin Fields) in the class of 2018. Both are among the top three prospects at any position nationwide.

GHSF Daily will be publishing its 10 best at each position for the next nine issues. The players’ status as recruits is a factor, but the choices are made largely on their production as high school players.

*Harrison Bailey, Marietta (6-4, 215): A MaxPreps Freshman All-American last season, Bailey passed for 2,812 yards and 21 touchdowns with seven interceptions for a 3-7 team. He completed 208 of 363 attempts (57.3 percent). Florida and Georgia reportedly are early favorites to land Bailey, who could become the latest in a string of five-star recruits from Georgia at this position.

*Michael Barrett, Lowndes (5-11, 205): Barrett was the state’s most productive dual-threat QB in 2016, when he led Lowndes to a 10-3 finish and a school-record 594 points (45.7 ppg) and became Lowndes’ first all-state quarterback since Barrett Wilkes in 2001. Barrett was 132-of-213 passing for 2,753 yards and 27 touchdowns with six interceptions last season. He rushed for 1,170 yards and 21 scores on 168 carries. Barrett has offers from Georgia Tech, LSU, Michigan and Tennessee, among others.

*Bailey Fisher, Rabun County (5-11, 180): Rabun County has finished 11-2 and 11-1 in Fisher’s two seasons as a starter. In 2016, when he was first-team Class 2A all-state, Fisher was 166-of-239 passing for 2,671 yards and 26 touchdowns with six interceptions. He rushed for 1,001 yards and 21 touchdowns. Not a Division I recruit because of size, Fisher has offers from Presbyterian and West Georgia.

*Justin Fields, Harrison (6-3, 220): Fields had the best offseason of any Georgia senior while emerging as the top-rated dual-threat QB prospect in the nation. In 2016, he was 158-of-231 passing (68.4 percent) for 2,278 yards and 19 touchdowns with only five interceptions. He rushed for 851 yards and 13 touchdowns. He led Harrison to its first winning season since 2008 and first 10-win campaign since 2002. Fields’ college leaders are Georgia and Florida State, with a decision likely by mid-September.

*Emory Jones, Heard County (6-4, 180): Jones, an Ohio State commit who is rated the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback prospect in the country behind Fields, played in only 6.5 games last season. He was 57-of-101 passing for 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns. He rushed for two touchdowns. He has nearly 4,000 passing yards for his career with 40 rushing or passing touchdowns.

*Trevor Lawrence, Cartersville (6-6, 195): Lawrence is the consensus No. 1 recruit at any position nationally. He committed to Clemson in December. He has led Cartersville to consecutive 15-0 finishes. In 2016, Lawrence was 250-of-406 passing for 3,904 yards and 51 touchdowns with nine interceptions and was the AJC all-class player of the year. Lawrence needs 2,477 yards and 40 touchdown passes to break the Georgia career records of 13,077 and 159 held by Deshaun Watson.

*Luke Shiflett, Northwest Whitfield (6-2, 180): Shiflett may never make first-team all-state thanks to Lawrence’s co-existence in Class 4A, and that’s a shame. Shiflett, a Middle Tennessee commit, was 175-of-265 passing for 2,234 yards and 24 touchdowns with six interceptions for an 8-4 team. He rushed for 733 yards and nine touchdowns on 128 carries. Shiflett is also probably the best basketball player in Region 6-AAAA.

*Justin Tomlin, Southwest DeKalb (6-0, 170): Southwest DeKalb hasn’t had an all-state quarterback since Quincy Carter in 1995. Spoilter alert: Tomlin will be GHSF Daily’s preseason all-state pick at QB for Class 5A. In 2016, for a 6-5 team, Tomlin was 136-of-185 passing for 2,233 yards and 18 touchdowns. He rushed for 582 yards. Tomlin has offers from Valdosta State and a handful of other Division II schools.

*Gunnar Watson, Taylor County (6-2, 175): Watson was 129-of-195 passing for 2,166 yards and 23 touchdowns with seven interceptions last season for a 10-2 team that was Taylor County’s best in nearly 20 years. Watson and Lyn-j Dixon form the best QB/RB pair in Class A. Rated one of the top 50 pro-style QB prospects in the nation, Watson is committed to Troy.

*Jarren Williams, Central Gwinnett: Williams was 188-of-314 for 2,618 yards and 26 touchdowns with only four interceptions last season. He rushed for 396 yards and nine touchdowns. He led Central to the Class 7A quarterfinals. Williams is committed to Kentucky.

Coming Wednesday: Running backs

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