With 193 players playing Division I football, Cobb County has a safeguard of talent being utilized every year. Even so, there are several key players from Cobb who are earning more national spotlight than others.
The most notable feature of national recognition is Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. The former Harrison High School standout finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting last year after throwing for 3,273 yards, 41 touchdowns and only three interceptions, and he has almost cemented a spot in the running for this season.
Fields, a senior this season, is already being touted as the predicted leader for passing accuracy and offensive performance by Street & Smith. Athlon Sports, and Lindy’s Sports. Street & Smith even went as far to predict that Fields will be the best quarterback in the country this year.
“Fields is the most efficient quarterback in college football, is a threat in the running game and has made his teammates even better,” Street & Smith said. Athlon Sports reported that Ohio State head coach Ryan Day is enjoying Fields’ developments and does not want to additionally rely on his running, instead hoping they can get a more one-dimensional pass game from the Kennesaw native.
Ohio State teammate, and Sprayberry alum, Trey Sermon is also getting a solid amount of media coverage. With the loss of running back J.K. Dobbins, it is up to Sermon and Master Teague III to compete for the starting spot. Most outlets have Teague III winning out for the position, but an Achilles injury could put the Cobb graduate transfer from Oklahoma in the prime position.
Outside of the Power Five, many predictions have Cincinnati from the American Athletic Conference to prove to be the Group of Five powerhouse of the season, and it’s defensive edge is led by South Cobb graduate Elijah Ponder.
Ponder, who is in his senior season, is predicted to be the team’s top pass rusher, and Athlon Sports writes that he is set to build on his breakout 2019 season. Street & Smith adds that Ponder will be one of the defensive anchors who helped contribute to the Bearcats’ with 33 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season.
Cobb County also contributed a strong 2020 recruiting class including, namely, Marietta tight end Arik Gilbert at LSU, Hillgrove defensive end Myles Murphy at Clemson, and Marietta quarterback Harrison Bailey at Tennessee.
Gilbert was listed by Athlon Sports as the best incoming tight end in the country, and the second-best recruit by LSU.
“The Tigers continued to bring in national-title-caliber talent with their 2020 haul.” Street & Smith writes. “It starts with Arik Gilbert, an instant-impact player who is the highest-rated tight end in 247Sports history.”
Myles Murphy will be serving as understudy to senior Justin Foster in his freshman year, but national outlets predict he will soon become a staple of the Clemson defense, and is a rising star within the program.
“Clemson has produced its share of talented defensive linemen, and it appears as though Myles Murphy is the latest future star,” Athlon Sports said.
Harrison Bailey is expected to be the future of Tennessee football. Currently listed third on the depth chart at quarterback, he is expected to compete with Brian Maurer once senior Jarrett Guarantano graduates. Typically listed as Tennessee’s third best 2020 recruit, Bailey still has high expectations.
“Harrison Bailey… put up gaudy numbers in winning a state title as a senior,” Lindy’s Sports writes. “At the urging of UT coach Jeremy Pruitt, Bailey lost weight before his senior year and gained mobility.