Freshman Report: Season Superlatives
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The 2022 regular season has come to an end. With that being said, it’s time to take a look back at the last 10 games and find the freshmen that took the state by storm. Get used to hearing these…
The 2022 regular season has come to an end. With that being said, it’s time to take a look back at the last 10 games and find the freshmen that took the state by storm. Get used to hearing these names, because they have already solidified themselves as household names on the recruiting trail.
Offensive Player of the Year
Julian “JuJu’ Lewis – QB – Carrollton
JuJu Lewis had been generating buzz for the last few years as one of the country’s best middle school football players. Before he even enrolled in high school, he received numerous offers from big-time schools and was a viral sensation. At the end of his first season, I think it’s safe to say he lived up to the hype. Lewis finished with nearly 2600 passing yards while completing 66% of his passes. He was also one of the state leaders in TD passes with 34. Most importantly, he led the Trojans to a 10-0 regular season. Lewis is already drawing comparisons to Bryce Young. There is not a throw on the field that he can’t make, and his poise for a young QB is something we rarely see. Lewis is the best player in the 2026 class, and he kicked off his high school career with a bang.
Defensive Player of the Year
– LB – Grayson
This was a close one between Atkinson and Deuce Geralds, the blooming superstar DL over at Collins Hill. I ended up giving Atkinson the slightest nod. Like, Atkinson entered the high school ranks already generating lofty expectations. Boy, did he blow those out of the water? Atkinson became a force for the Rams, finishing second on the team in tackles. Where Atkinson really separates himself is his versatility. He can line up at the edge spot and rush the passer, run sideline to sideline at LB, and even drop back into the secondary and hold his own against faster playmakers. I have no idea where he will end up long-term, but he is an athletic freak and is arguably the best defensive player in the 2026 class.
Best Offensive Lineman
– OL – Cass
The 2026 class in Georgia is infested with big-time offensive linemen. I can think of several prospects off the top of my head that I believe will be P5 prospects when all is said and done. However,already looks like a college football player, and he saw his stock rise exponentially as a result. Offers from schools like Louisville, Penn State, and Virginia Tech rolled in over the course of the season. I expect plenty more programs to enter the picture. After all, you can’t teach 6’4 300. When watching McWhorter, I am very impressed with his ability to climb to the second level of the defense. He is a great athlete for his size, and it shows on tape. McWhorter is a road grader-type blocker, and I think he will end up on the interior OL as he continues to develop.
Best Defensive Lineman
Deuce Geralds – DL – Collins Hill
Geralds broke onto the scene in a hurry and emerged as the anchor up front for a young Collins Hill team. On the year, Geralds emerged as one of the most prolific pass rushers in the state, finishing with 10.5 sacks. Lining up mostly at DE, he showed some serious get-off and pursuit when going after the QB. He was also very strong against the run, setting the edge with ease and creating penetration up front. Geralds is already extremely physical as a freshman, and he will only continue to grow and become an even more dominant force on the defensive front for years to come.
– WR – Kell
Talk about playing with a chip on your shoulder. Not only is Zachary considered “undersized” by some, but he also set out to make an impact as a freshman at the varsity level. Playing at a high level with both of those things “working against you” is a very hard thing to do, but Zachary made it look easy. On the year, Zachary finished with nearly 800 receiving yards and tallied numerous TDs on the season. In space, it will be hard to find a more dangerous playmaker with the ball in his hands than Zachary. He is extremely twitchy and slippery, and it often takes numerous defenders to contain and tackle him. On top of that, he is extremely explosive off the snap, which allows him to get downfield in a hurry with nothing but grass in front of him. At 5’7, he also shows the ability to win by being physical and going up and over defenders. Zachary has already seen numerous FBS offers come his way, and more are on the horizon. At the college level, I could see him turning into a Kadarius Toney or Elijah Moore-type receiver, a guy that can line up anywhere on offense.
Best Offensive Skill Player
– RB – Central
Walton was someone we pinpointed a while back as a guy that had the ability to make an immediate impact at the varsity level, but I don’t think anyone expected him to have the year he ended up having. Walton rushed for an astounding 1500 yards on the year on 9.5 yards per carry. He also punched it in 18 times on the ground. When watching the tape, Walton has an uncanny ability to navigate through to the second level. Whether he is showing off his vision and elusiveness by picking his way through blockers or fighting through tacklers, he stays upright and finds space. Once he has room to run, his elite explosiveness and acceleration does the rest. Walton emerged as one of the best RB prospects in the entire class this season, adding offers from schools like UGA, Georgia Tech, and Vanderbilt.
Best Defensive Skill Player
– DB – ELCA
Barney has to be one of the most underappreciated and underrated freshmen in the entire state. Playing at a school that consistently pumps DBs into the next level, Barney wasted no time becoming an impact player. He led all freshmen in Georgia in INTs with 8 and also showed the ability to play all over the field. Barney showcased some serious discipline in zone coverage, it seemed as if he always knew where the ball was going, which allowed him to make numerous plays on the football. When the ball is in the air, he does an excellent job of finding it and getting to the spot. Along with his ball skills, he does show the ability to come downfield and even line up in the box to stop the run game. Long term, I see Barney projecting as a ball hawk safety. As he continues to build on his tall and wiry frame, look for Barney to continue to grow into an intriguing prospect on the recruiting trail.
2 Prospects Set for Huge Sophomore Seasons
Brodie McWhorter – QB – Cass
Once McWhorter took full grasp of the starting job in the middle of the season, he didn’t look back. McWhorter finished with nearly 1800 yards passing with 17 TDs and an efficient 67% completion percentage. McWhorter has great arm talent, but it’s the timing and accuracy of his throws that stand out to me. He is accurate delivering to all levels of the field, and can even make throws while on the move. McWhorter also shows the ability to stand tall in the pocket and take hits, something that is often unseen in younger QBs. With a year of starting under his belt, I expect McWhorter to have an even bigger 2023 which elevates him into a legit prospect on the trail.
– DB – Parkview
Hicks emerged early in the season as one of the best young DBs in the state. In fact, he earned an offer from UGA really early in the year. Hicks is still growing into his role on the varsity level, but he is an extremely athletic and physical prospect for a youngster. Playing at safety, he creeps up on people in the middle of the field, often delivering some pretty huge hits. He is also disciplined in zone coverage and shows the ability to find the ball when it’s in the air. Watch out for Hicks as he continues to grow into one of the best young prospects in the region.