Kell running back and safety Brian Randolph has been named as the Gatorade football player of the year in Georgia.
Randolph rushed for 1,068 yards and 16 touchdowns and caught 17 passes for 414 yards and five touchdowns. On defense, he had 162 tackles – 98 solo – and four interceptions. He led his team to a region title and 12-1 finish.
Randolph, who has committed to Tennessee, has a 4.1 GPA, another factor in his getting the award.
That’s the first of at least three major statewide player-of-the-year awards that Georgia players will receive this year. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Associated Press also have their awards.
Aside from Randolph, here are five other top candidates for those awards. Are there others?
lTim Byerly, Chattahoochee: Byerly has been the Cameron Newton of Class AAAA football. He is 140-of-205 passing for 2,332 yards and 29 touchdowns and has thrown only two interceptions. He has rushed for 1,263 yards and 19 touchdowns. Chattahoochee is 13-0.
lIsaiah Crowell, Carver (Columbus): Crowell has rushed for 1,627 yards and 17 touchdowns on 127 carries (12.8 yards per carry). Crowell has missed parts of several games games because of injury but ran for over 300 yards and scored five touchdowns in the Class AA quarterfinals. Carver is 13-0.
lTaylor Heinicke, Collins Hill: Heinicke is 284-of-431 passing for 3,906 yards and 43 touchdowns. Heinicke’s passing yardage is second-most in state history to Hutson Mason’s 4,560 in 2009, and his touchdown passes rank third all-time. Collins Hills is in the Class AAAAA semifinals for the first time since 2001.
lNick Marshall, Wilcox County: Marshall set the state record for touchdown passes in a career with 103. His final statistics are not in, but before the Wesleyan game last week, he was 123-for-228 passing for 2,530 yards and 38 touchdowns. He threw for three more touchdowns against Wesleyan and about 200 yards. Marshall also rushed for almost 700 yards and seven touchdowns and intercepted several passes and ran two back for touchdowns.
lDemarco Robinson, M.L. King: Robinson caught 73 passes for a state-record 1,655 yards and 27 touchdowns for a Region 2-AAAAA championship team. Robinson’s teammate, Jonquel Dawson, threw for 3,612 yards and 41 touchdowns, but he’s a junior, and his numbers aren’t quite as good as Heinicke’s in the same classification, so Robinson might have the better shot. Note that Robinson has better numbers in 12 games than Da’Rick Rogers had in 15 games last season, and Rogers was the AJC all-class player of the year.
Gatorade players of the year
2010 – Brian Randolph, Kell
2009 – Hutson Mason, Lassiter
2008 – Branden Smith, Washington
2007 – Tavarres King, Habersham Central
2006 – Eric Berry, Creekside
2005 – Morrice Richardson, Westlake
2004 – Tray Blackmon, LaGrange
2003 – Darius Walker, Buford
2002 – Kregg Lumpkin, Stephenson
2001 – Julian Jenkins, Woodward Academy