Best player in school history: Region 6-AAAAAA teams

Sprayberry quarterback Jerick McKinnon (4) was named first-team all-state in 2009 after passing for 1,500 yards and rushing for 1,300. (Curtis Compton/AJC file)

Jerick McKinnon has always been a little better than expected. That’s still the case today as a Minnesota Viking. He has come off the bench the past two weeks to lead his team to victory.

McKinnon broke into Sprayberry’s starting lineup as a sophomore running back and defensive back in 2007, at which time the Yellow Jackets hadn’t had a winning season in eight years. They had three consecutive winning seasons on McKinnon’s watch.

McKinnon was the AJC’s Class AAAA first-team all-state quarterback in 2009. Sprayberry hadn’t had a first-team all-state player of any sort since 1985, and never a quarterback. McKinnon passed for 1,500 yards and rushed for 1,300 that season and was the Cobb County TD Club quarterback of the year.

By then, folks were noticing, but not enough. McKinnon got no major Division I offers. He went to Georgia Southern, where he started as a freshman.

As the triple-option quarterback the first three seasons and as a tailback as a senior, McKinnon rushed for 3,899 yards in his career, third all-time in Eagles history. In 2013, he rushed for 125 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown in a 26-20 victory over Florida.

Those accomplishments – and the 4.37-second speed in the 40 that he flashed at the NFL Scouting Combine – resulted in his selection in the third round of the NFL Draft.

Today, McKinnon is the Vikings’ main running back. Granted, he got that role just weeks ago when star RB Dalvin Cook was lost to a season-ending injury, but McKinnon has picked up where Cook left off. McKinnon has 245 yards from scrimmage over the past two games, both Vikings victories.

Here are GHSF Daily’s choices as the best players in the history of the current Region 6-AAAAAA.

*Allatoona: Brandon Rainey (2015)

*Creekview: Kyle Wilkie (2015)

*Dalton: Bill Mayo (1980)

*Harrison: Paul Oliver (2002)

*Osborne: Tokumbo Abanikanda (2004)

*River Ridge: Steven Spears (2013)

*Sequoyah (Canton): Patrick Hall (2001)

*South Cobb: Kenny McKinley (2004)

*Sprayberry: Jerick McKinnon (2009)

Best player in school history series

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