Since 1985, the AJC’s Super 11 team has transformed into one of the nation’s most elite lists, consisting of the best 11 high school football players from the talent-loaded state of Georgia. Over the next few weeks, we’ll go over the top candidates for this year’s AJC Super 11, which will be released on Aug. 15)
The AJC Super 11 candidate: Carver-Columbus RB Isaiah Crowell
The skinny: The 6-foot, 212-pound Crowell is considered by some as the nation’s No. 1 running back. The state of Georgia has an international reputation for producing some of football’s greatest running backs, and Crowell is consensus head of this year’s class. As a junior, Crowell rushed for 1,907 yards and 22 touchdowns on 175 carries, while also catching 18 passes for 241 yards and 3 TDs. Last season, Carver was upset by Flowery Branch 35-33 in the Class AAA quarterfinals.
Colleges: UGA and Alabama appear to be Crowell’s favorites, while Florida State and Clemson are also in the mix. As standard procedure with Carver players, Crowell will likely wait until around national signing day to announce the sweepstakes winner.
They said it: “He’s the best running back I’ve ever coached. From an offensive standpoint, he can do it all. He’s the complete package. He has the speed, the power, great hands, runs great routes, and so much more. He’s a threat to take it to the house from anywhere on the football field.” — Carver-Columbus coach Dell McGee.
The lowdown: Crowell is simply the best at the state’s most heralded position. He moves so fast and quick that sometimes you forgot how big he is (and has gotten bigger and stronger since last year). Crowell has a legit shot at cracking the 3,000-yard barrier this year, depending how far Carver advances in the state playoffs — and they are top contenders to win it all after moving down to Class AA. The thing that really works in Crowell’s favor is that he surrounded on his own team with several other big-time D1 prospects. In other words, the pressure is on Crowell but not completely on him. Last year, it was nearly impossible for defenders to key on Crowell because Carver had so many offensive weapons, including QB Devin Burns (2,100 all-purpose yards, 21 TDs, signed with Maryland). Crowell is the offense’s emotional leader, celebrating after clutch runs. He has superior field vision and does lots of his damage on cutbacks. If you let him hit the corner, he has enough speed and power to either outrun or overrun the outside linebackers and defensive secondary. You rarely see Crowell get smacked hard at the line of scrimmage, due to the blocking of Carver’s o-line and/or Crowell’s vision. In fact, you rarely if ever see Crowell get hit hard anywhere on the field. Crowell is really advanced with his receiving skills, often adjusting to screens and short passes while turning his head to the QB and watching the ball into his hands, showing fearlessness as his back is exposed to the charging defense. He will need to improve on his pass-blocking skills in college, but who cares about that now? I want to see Crowell run, run, run.
If it was completely my vote: Yes. Looking forward to seeing how Crowell performs against the stout defense of three-time defending Class AA state champion Buford when the two teams square off in a non-conference showdown on Sept. 3. For Crowell to cement his legacy as one of Georgia’s “best ever,” he will need to help lead his team to a state championship.
Note: The AJC’s Super 11 team consists of the state’s top 11 senior football players, and not college prospects. It is selected by AJC staff members in a partnership with our friends from GHSFD, based on observing the player either in person or on film. A very important part of the process is getting recommendations and feedback from high school coaches from around the state, along with running the names by a few college coaches. It’s an imperfect process, but we do our best. The AJC’s 2010 Super 11 team will be released next month.