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POY Watch: Bateman continues to shine for 6-0 Tift County

A Whitefield player warms up before a high school football game against Mount Paran Christian, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, in Kennesaw, Ga.

Branden Camp/Special to the AJC.

Georgia is a pretty good state for wide receivers. The No. 1 and No. 2 junior receivers nationally, according to recruiting services, are Jadon Haselwood of Cedar Grove and Dominick Blaylock of Walton. Senior Kearis Jackson of Peach County is an AJC Super 11 pick, and Joshua Vann of Tucker and Marquez Ezzard of Stockbridge are four-star recruits.

None is having a better season than Rashod Bateman of Tift County. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and creates matchup predicaments. He has caught a touchdown pass in all six Tift victories and averages 159.2 yards receiving per game.

”Rashod is an unbelievable player and athlete,” Tift County coach Ashley Anders said. “I think one of the reasons of his success besides his athleticism is his competitiveness.  He loves to play the game and loves competition. That is one reason he works so hard and pays attention to every detail is because he wants to win each play, each series and every game.”

Anders said Bateman’s best skills athletically are his footwork and ability to accelerate into his route. He addeded that Bateman has ”great ball skills and makes difficult catches sometimes look easy.”

Bateman reminds Anders of Walter Powell, an NFL receiver that Anders coached while at Murray State.

”Same size, speed and will to win,” Anders said. “Rashod will be very successful at the next level, and the sky is the limit for him because he is a focused you man with great character.”

Bateman solidified his spot in the POY Watch this week.

The POY Watch is designed to be a fun look at some of the best players. Players naturally will drift in and out, and that should not be taken as a critique of their season. It is an honor to appear in the POW Watch even for a single week.

1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Cartersville: Lawrence was 15-of-20 passing for 327 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-7 victory over previously unbeaten Cedartown. For the season, the Clemson commit is 75-of-105 (.714) for 1,538 yards and 15 touchdowns with one interception. Lawrence needs 1,036 yards and 26 touchdown passes to break the Georgia career records of 13,077 and 159 held by Deshaun Watson. Cartersville is ranked No. 1 in Class AAAA.

2. QB Michael Barrett, Lowndes: Barrett was 9-of-14 passing for 59 yards and one touchdown with an interception in a 55-0 victory over Shiloh. He rushed for 35 yards on three carries. For the season, Barrett is 34-of-51 passing for 460 yards and six touchdowns without an interception. He has rushed for 400 yards and seven touchdowns on 45 carries (8.9 ypc). He has played minimumally in the second halves of games because of blowouts and running clocks. In 2016, Barrett passed for more than 2,500 yards and rushed for more than 1,000 yards. Barrett has offers from Georgia Tech, LSU, Michigan and Tennessee, among others. Lowndes is ranked No. 2 in AAAAAAA.

3. DL Adam Anderson, Rome: Anderson had five tackles, one a sack, in a 62-0 victory over Paulding County. Anderson didn’t play in the second half as his team led 49-0. For the season, Anderson has 23 tackles, seven tackles for losses, six sacks, two batted-down balls and one forced fumble. He is the consensus No. 2 OLB prospect nationally. Rome is ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAA.

4. QB Justin Fields, Harrison: Fields rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries and was 7-of-15 passing for 153 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-10 victory over Allatoona. On the season, Fields is 58-of-96 passing for 974 yards and 12 touchdowns with one interception. He has rushed for 575 yards and 10 touchdowns on 76 carries. Fields is the consensus No. 1 recruit in the country.

5. QB Bailey Fisher, Rabun County: Fisher was 20-of-31 passing for 216 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-8 victory over West Hall. Fisher also rushed for 87 yards and three touchdowns. For the season, Fisher is 57-of-85 passing (.671) for 946 yards and nine touchdowns. He has rushed for 354 yards and 10 touchdowns. Fisher passed for 2,671 yards and rushed for 1,001 last season. Fisher has Division II offers. Rabun County is ranked No. 4 in Class AA.

6. RB Dameon Pierce, Bainbridge:Pierce rushed for 216 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries, barely playing a half, in a 51-0 victory over Sarasota (Fla.) Pierce has rushed for 1,016 yards and 18 touchdowns on 113 carries (9.0 ypc). Pierce has rushed for 5,672 yards and scored 84 touchdowns in his career. A top-200 national recruit, Pierce is committed to Florida.

7. WR Rashod Bateman, Tift County:Bateman had seven catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns in a 33-31 victory over Coffee, the No. 3 team in Class AAAAAA. For the season, Bateman has 35 catches for 796 yards (22.7 ypc) and 11 touchdowns in Tift’s 6-0 start. Bateman has at least one TD reception in all six games. Bateman is committed to Minnesota. Tift, at No. 10 in Class AAAAAAA, is ranked this season for the first time since 2007.

8. RB Chauncey Williams, Meadowcreek: Williams rushed for 315 yards and five touchdowns on 26 carries in a 42-28 victory over Lakeside of Atlanta. For the season, Williams has rushed for 1,230 yards and 18 touchdowns on 120 carries (10.3 ypc). He has three catches for 83 yards. He has 20 touchdowns overall, one a kickoff return. Meadowcreek is 5-0 for the first time in school history.

9. DB/LB Otis Reese, Lee County: Reese had six tackles, one for a loss, in a 49-0 victory over Thomas County Central. He played only the first half. For the season, Reese has 48 tackles, eight tackles for losses, two sacks, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Reese is the consensus No. 7 OLB prospect nationally and committed to Michigan. Lee County is 6-0 and ranked No. 2 in Class AAAAAA.

10. RB Uriah West, Douglas County: West rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in a 30-27 victory over Hughes in a game between Top 10 teams. For the season, West has rushed for 963 yards and 10 touchdowns on 96 carries (10.0 ypc). West has 10 offers from mid-major Division I schools. Douglas County is 5-0 and ranked No. 7 in Class AAAAAA.

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