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The Year of the Quarterback: Year Two…

The Year of the Quarterback: Year Two…

Okay, so I admit it… last year was touted as one of the top years in the state of Georgia for quarterback play and there were a lot of…

Sorry… proper emphasis needed…

“A LOT…” of quality passers hanging around the highlight reels of many sportscasts over the weekends in the 2016 season…

But could 2017 be as good if not better for the lot and for the lot of us to follow as they figure out where they’re going to play at the next level…???

Think so…??? That’s what I thought you’d say…

Obviously, everything starts with Cartersville QB Trevor Lawrence and his numbers are staggering. But there are instances where, in his junior season, he tried at times to put a ball into a window that was too tight and bad things happened… just like Woody Hayes said it would when you put the ball in the air. But the Purple Hurricanes are chasing another state title under head coach Joey King and Lawrence, his hair, and his hair’s independent Twitter account will be there for the ride.

Cartersville starts their year with Bartram Trail out of Florida and they’re off and running…

Another west Georgia quarterback gets his first taste of television in the first game of a doubleheader on that very same field as Heard County’s Emory Jones gets Saraland out of Alabama earlier that afternoon at Weinman Stadium. Head Coach Tim Barron has a national top-25 QB in Jones who is already declared to Ohio State as the Braves look to improve their 7-4 record from 2016.

Two QB’s out of Cobb County will be getting some deep looks all season long as well- Harrison’s Justin Fields and Marietta High sophomore Harrison Bailey…

Yes, I said “sophomore…”

Bailey already, as a Class of 2020 QB, has offers from Miami, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. He is carrying a 3.7 GPA and as a 9th grader…

Wait…

Proper emphasis needed one more time…

AS A 9TH GRADER… threw for over 2,800 yards and had a touchdown-to-INT ration of 3:1 (21:7)

You can see why expectations are high at a new Northcutt Stadium…

I digress. Back to the seniors…  

Fields is, in some of those ranking systems (should you believe those things) as a higher prospect than Lawrence- because of his “dual athlete” designation. Only 41 schools are interested in Fields right now…

You’ll also get looks at senior athletes like:

Jarren Williams at Central Gwinnett- also listed as a “dual threat” currently declared to Kentucky

Cade Fortin of North Gwinnett- currently declared to Texas A&M

Fitzgerald’s James Graham- also a dual threat that has twenty schools or so peeking in on him from time to time…

Northwest Whitfield’s Luke Shiflett- currently declared to Middle Tennessee State

Roswell’s Cordell Littlejohn- who has ten schools looking at his duality…

Taylor County’s Gunnar Watson- declared to Troy

Colquitt County’s Steven Krajewski- an understudy last year who is getting his chance this season to run Rush Propst’s ship in Moultrie as a pro-style quarterback

And that’s a short list of student-athletes who are in the top-100 at their position coming into the season… Of the top-100 quarterbacks in the country, 10-percent of them are playing their 2017 season in the state of Georgia.

That says something…

Frankly, I have always thought it said something…

When you look at the state of Georgia, if you don’t regard it as a top-five state for talent across the board, I think your evaluation board is heavily flawed. When you go to your games this season, keep an eye on all the different flavored golf shirts you’ll see on the sidelines. It’s a whole lot different than just five years ago, really…

Student-athletes are signing letters of intent for schools and conferences from one end of the country to the other. Name a conference, and I can guarantee you that a Georgia player was a highly-profiled signing here. And, by the time we’re done, if those athletes stay healthy and ply their trade they have the chance to show some very interesting home towns on graphics for Saturday television broadcasts…

And that’s what makes this state as special as any other when it comes to its talent on high school football weekends…

The chance to see a student-athlete, regardless of town size or position, get a chance at the next level to reinforce what turns heads on a weekly basis…

Look at the 2018 list again and what do you see…???

Cartersville, Franklin, Kennesaw, Lawrenceville, Suwanee, Fitzgerald, Tunnel Hill, Roswell, Butler, and Moultrie…

That should make us all proud of our towns, teams, schools, teachers, and parents as another season starts and optimism begins again for over 400 schools…

Play it safe everyone, I’ll be watching…   

Jon Nelson has been a television journalist for twenty-five years based in Atlanta. He was graduated from Lakeside High School in Atlanta and Florida State University with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Political Science. His television career has given him the opportunity to cover as varied events as Super Bowls, World... more