Georgia High School Football Daily Spotlight: A look at the state’s top defensive linemen

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.

Georgia High School Football Daily is a free email newsletter. Click HERE to join the mailing list.

15 comments Add your comment

Reality Check

August 10th, 2009
11:10 am

you yech fans need a reality check! You are 1 – 8 against us! you get no good players, nobody respects your school it’s a dump and written with crime. You’re NERDS! Go tickle yourselves!


August 10th, 2009
12:15 pm

listen up you fool, we lost all those games when chan gailey was at tech; NEWSFLASH: Paul Johnson is now at GT and looks like he is doing pretty AWESOME if you ask me. first year beats uga??? not so bad. bringing in the recruits he needs to fit his system. we’ll see what happens these next couple years, but until then get back on your garbage truck and pick up the rest of the trash you missed because 90% of ya’ll are trash and make your school look like garbage.


August 10th, 2009
12:47 pm

You really need to see the two at Alexander High School.
DeAngelo Ashley was All-Region last year.
Shaderick Walker is much improved as well.
Both have had small interest. Hard to get major interest playing at a school that has not won in over 10 years.


August 10th, 2009
12:58 pm

yep, have to agree with the GT fan on one thing, can’t trash talk when a 1st yr coach with a roster full of rejects and 2nd tier players comes between the hedges and beats a coach in his 8th season. The same GT team that UNC shut out and LSU Hammered. As for garbage, taking liberties there aren’t you young man. The 90% rule applies to GT, 90% of the GT fans who run their mouths never attended a class at GT, heck they don’t even know where the campus is, maybe they know where that pitiful little stadium is but not the campus. Heck GT can’t sellout a game unless it’s Clemson, FSU or Georgia. TECHfan, do yourself and the GT program a BIG FAVOR —– BUY A TICKET, ATTEND A GAME!


August 10th, 2009
1:43 pm

hey i saw another post on another blog, but i will ask on this one. where are the pre-season polls and poll talk?

GA Tech Insider

August 10th, 2009
2:21 pm

I’m a bit curious as to how the AJC has decided who are the “Best Five Players in Georgia” at their respective positions.

Does the AJC they take the rating from one, or all of the scouting services and then take an average? Does the AJC actually perform their own ranking of players?

No insult intended to the AJC, but some clarification to how you came up with your lists would be appreciated.

Also, while the AJC is also listing the others who didn’t make their “Best Five,” and they’ve also made a commitment to a University, shouldn’t their choice be acknowledged just as much as the “Best Five”? It’s a big deal to them, and their families.


August 10th, 2009
3:03 pm

do not forget the conflicting statement of saying they chose production over potential, then they put Jeffrey Whitaker on the list. If the AJC had ANY idea what these kids did last year, they would know that Whit was overweight (330-pounds!), and largely ineffective. Neiron Ball was a monster last year, with 104 tackles, 19 sacks, 35 tackles for loss, and 7 forced fumbles. Do your homework AJC, or stick to the coupon inserts that are the only thing keeping your once prominant company in circulation.

big TEX

August 10th, 2009
3:10 pm

where is BIG Q.BROWN at Tucker High School he should be a four star.I cant belive he is not on yhis list.


August 10th, 2009
9:09 pm

Ga. Tech “Insider”:

Read the first and last sentences of the blog, numbnuts.

This isn’t the AJC’s opinion. See the Big, Bold letters that spell Georgia High School Football Daily?

That’ a clue.


August 10th, 2009
11:22 pm

YOU guys also missed Garrison Glass , Booker T. Washington rated top 10 DT in APS schools & one of the top DT in North GA, was a stand out at Auburns elite senior camp, Alabama, & Illinois are hot on him, kid is flying under the radar, doesnt ask for attention, but balls out every game quick off the ball, very aggressive check him out on youtube.

coach steven

August 11th, 2009
12:29 am

the Tucker Tigers have that Brown kid he is a frek on the field.

YellerSkeeters are PeterEaters!

August 11th, 2009
4:25 am

“Brown” kid? That’s RACIST!

GT Fans: 42-45!! Woo-Hoo, haven’t seen it posted in a day or so. UGA let its guard down being up by 20 at half — be proud Skeeters, once a decade you should get a win, once a decade.

I hate you!


August 16th, 2009
7:29 pm

i went and watched ola high play henry county, and this is the best team ola has ever had. their offense was amazing. union grove better watch out because i smell an upset. same with griffin.

football fan in decatur

August 18th, 2009
12:21 pm

Why don’t Tech and UGA fans get along? I’m born and raised in Atlanta and I pull for them both during the year. The fact of the matter is neither has won national championships in quite a while, they both need to stop letting the best recruits get away.


August 29th, 2010
9:41 pm