As part of an ongoing series, GHSF Daily is listing the best five players in Georgia at the following positions – quarterback, running back, receiver, offensive lineman, defensive lineman, linebacker, defensive back and kicker/punter.
Today, we resume with defensive linemen.
In making these choices, we value a history of production over potential (listed in alphabetical order).
Garrison Smith, Douglass: Smith had a monster year in 2008 with 14 sacks and 27 tackles for loss. Smith is rated the No. 2 defensive tackle by Scout and Rivals, keeping up a recent tradition of highly rated Georgia players at the position. DeAngelo Tyson of Statesboro (2007) and Abry Jones of Northside Warner Robins (2008) had similar ratings. Smith has committed to Georgia.
T.J. Stripling, Southwest DeKalb: A 6-foot-6 defensive end, Stripling had 18 tackles for losses and 14 sacks last season for a 9-4 team. Rivals ranks Stripling the No. 2 overall player in Georgia behind Calhoun receiver Da’Rick Rogers. He has committed to Georgia.
Michael Thornton, Stephenson: His coach, Ron Gartrell, calls Thornton the best interior lineman to play at Stephenson. Thornton had 95 tackles last season, 15 for losses. He’s the No. 9 defensive tackle nationally and No. 9 overall player in Georgia, according to Rivals. He’s the No. 24 DT and No. 15 Georgia player, according to Scout.
Jeffrey Whitaker, Warner Robins: Whitaker was first team all-region last season. He and Smith were the most nationally known defensive linemen in Georgia leaving the 2008 season. Rivals rates him the No. 10 defensive tackle nationally. Scout rates him No. 29. Whitaker and Thornton are the highest-ranked uncommitted prospects in Georgia.
Anthony Williams, Union Grove: Williams was his team’s best player in 2008, when he had 76 tackles, 16 for losses, including one for a safety. He also knocked down eight passes at the line of scrimmage. Williams is the No. 18 strongside defensive end, according to Rivals. Williams committed to Georgia Tech earlier this month.
Others: Henry Anderson, Woodward Academy; Neiron Ball, Jackson; Joe Champaign, Grayson; Lacy Coleman, Sandy Creek; J.C. Copeland, Troup; Corey Crawford, Carver (Columbus); Jalen Fields, Dalton; Shawn Green, Grayson; Delzel McCoy, Northview; Tank Sessions, Columbia.
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