Charlie Woerner’s name alone is intimidating. His uncle is Scott Woerner, the All-America defensive back for Georgia’s 1980 national championship team.
But Scott Woerner didn’t have nearly the size and perhaps not even the athleticism of Rabun County’s all-state junior. Charlie is 6 feet, 5 inches, 223 pounds. (Scott was 6-0, 190). Charlie recently placed third in the 110-meter hurdles and shot put and fourth in the discuss in the Class AA meet in Jefferson.
‘’Players like Charlie are very rare with his size and speed,’’ Rabun County coach Lee Shaw said. “He has tremendous speed and range for his size. He could play at any position on the defensive side of the ball.’’
And most on offensive side, as well. Woerner rushed for 1,112 yards and had another 417 receiving while scoring 23 touchdowns in 2013. Rabun County, which had suffered 11 straight losing seasons before Shaw arrived as head coach and Woerner as a freshman in 2012, was 8-3.
And while Woerner is frequently called Scott Woerner’s nephew, that’s perhaps a slight to his father, Kent, who is the principal at Rabun County Elementary. Kent Woerner was preceded younger brother Scott as Jonesboro’s leading rusher in 1973 and the Clayton County Back of the Year in 1974.
Charlie Woerner is one of eight returning first-team all-state defensive backs on this week’s list of the 10 best high school cornerbacks and safeties in Georgia. The other two made honorable-mention all-state. No other Georgia position is so rich in all-state accolades.
Two on the list have gained at least one five-star rating by a recruiting Website. They are Rashad Roundtree of Lakeside-Evans, as a safety, and Demetris Robertson of Savannah Country Day, as an athlete. Robertson is a natural cornerback and wide receiver but plays free safety in high school because most of his opponents are running teams.
Savannah Country Day coach Dennis Coyle on Robertson: “Demetris is an explosive player on offense who can go the distance on any given play. He has great quickness and athleticism off the ball and works on perfecting his routes daily so that he can break away from defenders and be open for his QB. As a free safety, Demetris is an aggressive run defender and he does a great job of running the alleys and making tackles on the line of scrimmage.’’
Robertson is like many that impact the game on both sides of the ball or on special teams.
Archer’s Dylan Singleton as a sophomore scored 13 touchdowns rushing or receiving on an 11-1 team in Class AAAAAA. Tucker’s Yaquis “Duke” Shelley scored eight touchdowns last season on interceptions (three), kickoffs (four) and punts (one). Stephenson's Khalil Ladler has returned five interceptions for touchdowns in his career.
Stephenson assistant coach and college recruiting coordinator Corey Johnson on Ladler, the only player ever to start as a freshman at Stephenson: ''Khalil's football knowledge is beyond his years. He is able to read routes and where a wide receiver lines up on the field as to where the route is going. He makes you pay for throwing his way. Ladler is one of the best athletes to ever walk the halls of Stephenson high school. He tackles, he covers returns kicks and plays offense.''
Here are our picks for the 10 best defensive backs for the coming season:
*Montrell Custis (Lovejoy): The 6-foot, 175-pound senior is listed as a three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 46 cornerback in the 247Sports Composite rankings. He was named second-team all-state in Class AAAAAA last season by the Georgia Sports Writers Association after finishing with 71 tackles, 25 pass break-ups, four interceptions, four blocked kicks and two defensive touchdowns. Lovejoy went 10-2 and reached the second round of the playoffs. His cousin, former Lovejoy star Travis Custis, was the Class AAAAAA offensive player of the year in 2012. Custis has committed to Alabama after originally pledging to Kentucky.
*Arrington Farrar (Woodward Academy): The 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior was named a first-team all-state defensive back in Class AAA last season after finishing with 97 tackles, four pass break-ups, three interceptions, three tackles for losses, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick. Woodward Academy went 9-3 and reached the second round of the state playoffs. Farrar is a four-star recruit who is rated as the nation’s No. 27 outside linebacker by Scout, the No. 19 athlete by 247Sports, and the No. 14 safety by Rivals. He committed to Stanford in August.
*Khalil Ladler (Stephenson): The 5-foot-10, 168-pound junior was honorable mention all-state for Class AAAAA in 2013, when he made 53 tackles, intercepted six passes, caused three fumbles and had eight tackles for losses. Ladler is rated the No. 5 overall prospect in Georgia and No. 3 cornerback nationally in the class of 2016 in 247Sports’ Composite rankings. 247Sports reports that he ran a 4.47 time in the 40-yard dash and had a 30.5-inch vertical leap at the recept Atlanta Nike Football Training Camp. Ladler has more than 15 reported offers, including those from Georgia and Georgia Tech, and has no apparent leader.
*Khane Pass (Carver-Columbus): The 6-foot, 200-pound senior was named first-team all-state in Class AAA last season by the Georgia Sports Writers Association after finishing with 55 tackles, nine pass break-ups and two interceptions for a Carver team that went 11-2 and reached the state semifinals. He is a consensus three-star recruit who is listed as the nation’s No. 42 safety in the 247Sports Composite rankings. Pass reportedly has eight scholarship offers, with strong interest from Mississippi State, North Carolina, Clemson and Texas A&M.
*Demetris Robertson (Savannah Country Day): The 6-foot-1, 170-pound junior is considered a four-star recruit by Scout and a five-star by 247Sports, which ranks him as the nation’s No. 1 “athlete” in the Class of 2016. He was named first-team all-state in Class A last season for a team that finished 5-5. Robertson had one interception and a team-leading 90 tackles from his free safety position, and he had 36 receptions for 556 yards, 29 rushes for 178 yards and three pass completions for 131 yards on offense. Robertson reportedly has about 20 scholarship offers, with Alabama and UCLA showing strong interest.
*Rashad Roundtree (Lakeside-Evans): The 6-foot-1, 195-pound safety was a first-team all-state selection in Class AAAAA last season and was named the Region 2-AAAAA defensive player of the year. He finished the season with 97 tackles and four interceptions for a Lakeside team that went 6-5 and reached the first round of the state playoffs. Rivals considers him a five-star recruit and the nation’s No. 2 prospect at safety. He is listed as a four-star recruit and the No. 5 safety in the 247Sports Composite rankings. Roundtree reportedly has about 15 scholarship offers, with strong interest from Georgia and Auburn.
*Yaquis “Duke” Shelley (Tucker): The 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior was named first-team all-state in Class AAAAA last season after finishing with 44 tackles and six interceptions. He scored touchdowns on three interception returns, four kickoff returns and one punt return, and he scored three TDs on offense. Shelley is a three-star recruit who is listed as the nation’s No. 34 cornerback in the 247Sports Composite rankings, but Rivals considers him a four-star and ranks him No. 21 at his position. Reports that he had committed to Tennessee were labeled by Tigers coach Bryan Lamar as a “miscommunication,” and he is still weighing his offers.
*Dylan Singleton (Archer): Singleton, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound junior, was named honorable mention all-state as a defensive back/running back last season for the fifth-year Archer program, which went 11-1 and won its first region title. He had a team-leading 113 tackles and three interceptions. On offense, Singleton rushed for 214 yards and eight touchdowns on 50 carries and caught 32 passes for 416 yards and five TDs. The four-star recruit is listed as the nation’s No. 13 cornerback in the Class of 2016 in the 247Sports Composite rankings. He reportedly has scholarship offers from Duke and South Carolina.
*Aaron Williams (Carver-Atlanta): Williams is a three-time all-region selection who was named first-team all-state in Class AAAA last season. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior finished with 90 tackles, five tackles for losses, three interceptions, 10 pass break-ups and three forced fumbles for a Carver team that went 7-4 and reached the first round of the state playoffs. Williams is a three-star recruit who is listed as the nation’s No. 63 safety in the 247Sports Composite rankings. He reportedly has scholarship offers from about 15 BCS schools and committed to Nebraska earlier this month.
*Charlie Woerner (Rabun County): Woerner became the first Rabun County named first-team all-state by the AJC since 1982 when he was honored last season as a defensive back, although recruiting services project him as a receiver in college. The 6-foot-5, 223 pound junior had 84 tackles and five interceptions, as well as 1,112 yards and 18 touchdowns rushing and 417 yards and five TDs receiving. Rabun County went 8-3, its best record in 15 years, and reached the first round of the Class AA playoffs. Woerner has offers from Georgia, Duke and Tennessee.
This is the eighth in a series of articles highlighting some of Georgia’s best high school players. They are chosen based primarily on their value and history as high school players, but their status as college prospects also is considered.