Best player in school history: Region 5-AAAAAA teams

Eric Berry was a dual-threat quarterback who also starred at defensive back and returned kicks during his career at Creekside. (JOHNNY CRAWFORD/AJC)

Dual-threat quarterbacks are the trend in football today, but that doesn’t go far enough to describe Eric Berry a decade ago at Creekside.

Berry could run, pass, play defense and return kicks. He was a four-year starter at quarterback and safety. Creekside was 38-8 during those years and 37-5 in games that Berry started at quarterback.

As a senior, Berry rushed for more than 1,500 yards and passed for more than 1,000 yards. With 4.4-second speed in the 40, he also anchored the secondary as a free safety. He intercepted 16 passes in his career. That’s a valuable talking point for any argument about the best player in state history.

“Eric is the best player to come through Georgia because he never came off the field,” said Kevin Whitley, Berry’s head coach at Creekside. “He played quarterback, then safety, then ran punts back and then back to quarterback. He was a special player.”

Comparing Berry’s value as a high school player to that of more recent stars such as Deshaun Watson, Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, Whitley added, “Those are great quarterbacks, but none of them had an impact on defense.”

Berry was Georgia’s all-classification player of the year in 2006 and the state’s top recruit, and his success grew from there. He was a two-time unanimous All-America safety at Tennessee, a first-round NFL Draft choice and a five-time Pro Bowl pick with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Here are GHSF Daily’s choices as the best players in the history of the current Region 5-AAAAAA schools.

*Alexander: Mikell Lands-Davis (2014)

*Creekside: Eric Berry (2006)

*Douglas County: Mike Tobert (2003)

*Hughes: D’Andre Walker (2014)

*Mays: Kelly Campbell (1997)

*New Manchester: Brian Herrien (2015)

*Northgate: James Skalski (2015)

*South Paulding: Chandler Burks (2013)

*Tri-Cities: Kalimba Edwards (1997)

Best player in school history series

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