College football rosters will be packed with players from Cobb County in 2019, and college football writers have noticed them.
Every summer, football magazines are put together to make preseason predictions, rank teams and discuss rosters. This year, Lindy’s Sports, Athlon Sports and Street & Smith’s College Football all have their attention on Cobb players in college.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is one of the most prominent names in college football right now, and sports writers have filled pages with projections on how Fields will perform in 2019. Fields, a top recruit out of Harrison High School in 2018, transferred from Georgia last January after seeing limited playing time as Jake Fromm’s backup.
Fields has little college experience, but that does not seem to faze some of the national college football writers when his individual talent and his team’s talent are taken into consideration.
“Great raw talent. Potential playoff team. Superb supporting cast. He’s 3-for-3,” Lindy’s Sports said about Fields.
In fact, Fields and his team are projected to be so good that he is already in the discussion as a 2019 Heisman contender.
“Fields’ rocket arm and impressive wheels will have to be on full display for him to even approach the dizzying production of Haskins,” Athlon Sports said after placing Fields ninth on its Heisman watch list.
Street and Smith’s College Football magazine has Fields even higher on its Heisman candidates list, placing him at fourth with 6-to-1 odds to win the trophy.
With the amount of attention and praise that Fields has received often comes pressure, and he is likely under significant pressure to succeed in 2019 as a young Heisman hopeful that in the upcoming season will lead one of the country’s most successful programs.
“Ohio State paid the price to land Fields by driving its two important backup quarterbacks out of the program,” Lindy’s Sports said. “So the Buckeyes’ success relies on Fields’ ability to be very productive as a true sophomore.”
Fields may no longer be playing at Georgia, but there is no dearth of players at Georgia from Cobb that are being discussed, and Sprayberry’s own Rodrigo Blankenship is among them.
Kickers are often only talked about when something goes wrong, so it is generally in their best interest to remain unnoticed, but Georgia’s star kicker is an exception to the rule.
“Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship is a folk hero for his exploits during the College Football Playoff his sophomore season. He now has a chance to cement his name in Georgia football lore, as well as the record books,” Athlon Sports said.
Lindy’s lists Blankenship as the fifth best kicker in the country.
Blankenship also has a few pass-catching teammates that may see action in the upcoming season.
McEachern’s Tyler Simmons is projected by Street & Smith’s and Athlon to start at receiver for the Bulldogs, and Athlon already has Dominick Blaylock listed as Georgia’s top kick returner. Blaylock is an incoming freshman from Walton.
Freshman tight end Ryland Goede came from Kennesaw Mountain to lift Georgia’s tight end corps to third in the country on Lindy’s list.
Florida’s Jabari Zuniga has garnered attention for his pass rushing abilities after racking up 10 and a half sacks in three years. A redshirt senior from Sprayberry High School, Zuniga has been named to Lindy’s All-SEC Team as the best pass rusher in the conference.
“Physical at the point of attack and fast off the edge, the 6-4, 257-pound Zuniga is the complete package,” Athlon said, naming him as one of the three “Key Gators.”
Zuniga will be replacing star edge-rusher Jachai Polite’s production this season, as Polite was drafted by the New York Jets.
Another defensive lineman from Cobb County may also be asked to step up, as Cincinnati’s Elijah Ponder is projected by Athlon to replace “all-(American Athletic Conference) tackles Cortez Broughton and Marquise Copeland.”
Former North Cobb standout Chandler Wooten is projected to start at outside linebacker for Auburn in what Lindy’s said will be a “new-look linebacker corps.”
In addition to Wooten, Cobb has produced a couple of other skilled linebackers in recent years.
“Chiendu Ogbonna is solid on the outside,” according to Lindy’s.
The Wheeler product led the University of Massachusetts in tackles last year, and he was named one of three core players on the Minutemen’s defense by Street & Smith’s.
Ball State outside linebacker Christain Albright has been successful off the edge since coming out of North Cobb, and Athlon called him a legitimate playmaker after he had seven and a half sacks, two interceptions, and five forced fumbles in two years.
A number of good defensive backs have also come out of Cobb recently, including South Cobb’s Jerry Jacobs and Wheeler’s Hakeem Bailey.
Athlon projects that Bailey will start for West Virginia, and called Arkansas State’s Jacobs, “One of the Sun Belt’s best cornerbacks” after he finished second in the conference with 4 picks.
Originally a star at Sprayberry, running back Trey Sermon is now one for Oklahoma. With 1,911 total yards and 20 total touchdowns in two years, Sermon has helped Oklahoma’s offense become one of the most productive in college football.
“Running backs Kennedy Brooks and Trey Sermon are a dazzling 1-2 punch,” Lindy’s said.
“Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks, who combined for 2,003 yards and 25 touchdowns last season, give Oklahoma a potent duo. Sermon led the team with 13 touchdowns,” Athlon said.
These are just some of the many Cobb players that may make impacts on teams across the country.
Athlon named eight other players as either starters or heavy contributors for FBS teams, including tight-ends Chigoziem Okonkwo at Maryland and Sam Letton at Troy, and there are bound to be various other Cobb County products that will earn playing time throughout the season.