- By Todd Holcomb The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
This 33rd rendition of the AJC Super 11 and the headliners are nationally famous quarterbacks.
Trevor Lawrence of Cartersville is rated the consensus No. 1 pro-style QB in the nation and the No. 1 overall player by Rivals and Scout. Justin Fields of Harrison is the consensus No. 1 dual-threat QB and the No. 1 overall player by ESPN and 247.
Lawrence committed to Clemson in December. Fields likely will decide within weeks, with Georgia and Florida State most anxiously waiting.
The AJC Super 11 originated in 1985 with the purpose of identifying the best 11 high school football players in the state. The players’ status as college prospects always played a role in selection, but the main criterion always has been been the players’ production and potential on a high school football field.
During the 33 years, each Super 11 team seems to have its own storylines.
Here are 11 stories behind the class of 2017:
• Georgia officially is a quarterback state. The trend has been brewing from Cam Newton of Westlake and Auburn to Deshaun Watson of Gainesville and Clemson, each taken in the first round of the NFL Draft after winning national titles. This is the second year in a row that Georgia has produced the No. 1 pro-style quarterback. It was Super 11 member Davis Mills (Stanford signee) of Greater Atlanta Christian last year. Houston County’s Jake Fromm (Georgia) was No. 3. But 2017 marks the first time that Georgia has had two quarterbacks this highly acclaimed in the same year.
• Jamaree Salyer is the best guard prospect in Georgia, which is saying something, as this is the state’s deepest position. Five of the top 20 nationally in the 247Sports Composite Ratings are from the state. They are No. 1 Salyer, No. 2 Trey Hill of Houston County, No. 14 Christian Meadows of Macon County, No. 15 Warren Ericson of North Gwinnett and No. 20 Jalil Irvin of Stephenson. Only Salyer made the Super 11. He will play left tackle for Pace Academy this fall.
• Only five of the Super 11 are committed. The trend of early commitments peaked in 2009, when every Super 11 member was committed (although two changed their minds before signing). It wasn’t until 1998 that any Super 11 player committed in preseason. The pioneer was former McEachern QB A.J. Suggs, who pledged to Tennessee in 1998.
• Clemson has commitments from Super 11 picks Lawrence, Kyler McMichael and Justin Mascoll. The Tigers have a shot at getting Salyer. Clemson signed four in 2013 — Watson, Korie Rogers, Demarre Kitt and Adam Choice — and won a national title three years later. Alabama signed four in 2011 — Dillon Lee, Dalvin Tomlinson, Kenyan Drake and Geno Smith — and won a national title four years later. No other out-of-state team has gotten as many as four.
• Georgia has signed five Super 11 players each of the past two seasons and six the year before. No current Super 11 player is committed to the Bulldogs, although they remain heavily in the picture for Adam Anderson, Fields, Salyer and Kearis Jackson. Georgia has never failed to sign at least one. Georgia Tech has signed 28 Super 11 players overall, though none since Shamire Devine in 2012.
• The Big Ten has swooped in to claim Stockbridge’s Brenton Cox (Ohio State) and Lee County’s Otis Reese (Michigan). Big Ten schools have signed only 10 Super 11 players in history, but the ones they’ve gotten tend to pan out. They include current NFL starters Cameron Heyward of Peachtree Ridge, Von Bell of Ridgeland and Raekwon McMillan of Liberty County, all to Ohio State, and retired 12-year veteran lineman Jeff Backus of Norcross, a Michigan graduate.
• Three Super 11 players have won state titles. They are Lawrence, Salyer and Anderson. The schools of McMichael (GAC), Mascoll (South Gwinnett), Fields (Harrison), Cox (Stockbridge) and Reese (Lee County) have never won state titles.
• Jackson is the eighth Peach County player, first since Demarcus Robinson in 2012, to make the AJC’s Super 11. No school has had more. The past three have been wide receivers. The other was Chris Slaughter in 2005. Ironically, Peach County’s most famous wide receiver, former NFL player and Florida All-American Jacquez Green, did not make the Super 11 as a senior in 1993.
• There has not been a five-star running back in Georgia since Nick Chubb of Cedartown signed with Georgia in 2014. Bainbridge’s Dameon Pierce is the top-rated RB recruit in Georgia. His 4,656 career rushing yards are the most among active Georgia players. If he matches his 2,000-yard output as a sophomore, he’ll finish in the top 10 in the state all-time.
• Pace Academy and Lee County had never had a Super 11 player until last season, when Andrew Thomas of Pace Academy and Aubrey Solomon of Lee County made it. Thomas is now at Georgia, Solomon at Michigan. Now, those schools have two Super 11s in a row. Salyer started alongside Thomas on Pace Academy’s 2015 state-championship team as a sophomore. Reese has been a defensive stalwart in the secondary behind Solomon the past three seasons.
• The number of former Super 11 players who have played in the NFL is 88 and growing. The 88 does not yet include a record eight former Super 11 players who were taken in the 2017 NFL Draft. Those are Watson of Gainesville, Raekwon McMillan of Liberty County, Montravius Adams of Dooly County, Carl Lawson of Milton, Markuss Eligwe of Stone Mountain, Josh Harvey-Clemons of Lowndes, Dalvin Tomlinson of Henry County and Josh Holsey of Creekside.