Welcome to our 2023 All-State selections! Down below we have the Player of the Year vote. The first-team All-State selections on offense and defense are directly underneath the poll. At the very bottom of the page, we have our All-State honorable mention selections. Next week, we will post a write-up on each athlete selected for the first team and a story for the Player of the Year.
Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to comment at the very bottom!
You can only vote ONE time per hour for player of the year. The poll will end on 12/24 at 8 pm.
QB – Jake Merklinger, Calvary Day
QB – EJ Colson, Cedar Grove
RB – Mason Sullens, Lumpkin Co.
RB – Duke Watson, Mary Persons
RB – Bo Walker, Cedar Grove
WR – Jamie Tremble, Wesleyan
WR – Caden Arnold, Calvary Day
WR – Devin Carter, Cedar Grove
TE – Michael Smith, Calvary Day
OL – Max Thurston, Monroe Area
OL – Kamren Dawkins, Carver-Columbus
OL – Barry Walker, Crisp Co.
OL – Bo Britt, Wesleyan
OL – Jaylen Slaughter, Cedar Grove
OL – Bobby Campbell, Adairsville
K – Dominic LeBlanc, Dawson Co.
ATH – Cal Faulkner, Lumpkin Co.
DL – Elijah Griffin, Savannah Christian
DL – Kourtney Kelly, Carver-Columbus
DL – Kyle Mosley, Cedar Grove
DL – Chase Kerns, Cedar Grove
DL – Aiden Butts, Stephens Co.
LB – Jamontez Hines, Carver-Atlanta
LB – David Bucey, Savannah Christian
LB – Landen Vickers, Morgan Co.
LB – Jacobi Jones, Mary Persons
LB – Telly Johnson, Hephzibah
DB – Jasec Smith, Stephens Co.
DB – Jamari McIvory, Savannah Christian
DB – Lakhi Roland, Cedar Grove
DB – D’Marcus Clements, Cedar Grove
DB – Jontae Gilbert, Douglass
P – Andrew Bennett, Thomasville
RET – Malachi Miller, Cedar Grove
Jake Merklinger from Calvary Day is the first QB on our All-State team. The senior who is signed on with Tennessee threw for 3028 yards and 38 touchdowns, which are among the best in the state, but his efficiency is truly eye-popping. Merklinger led the state with a 150 QBR throwing 38 touchdowns on just 2 interceptions. He also rushed for 439 yards and an additional 11 scores. Merklinger was named Region Player of the Year. EJ Colson was also named Region Player of the Year. Merklinger started all 4 years at Calvary Day and will go down as one of the greatest players in school history. The newly reclassified 2024 prospect is already at UCF now, so there will be no encore performance for the Cedar Grove star. Either way, Colson led DeKalb County with 2634 passing yards and 31 touchdowns while completing 64% of his passes. Colson did a great job controlling the possession, and only threw one interception in 2023. He also rushed for 831 yards and 6 touchdowns. Colson helped Cedar Grove to the 2023 State Title in 3A and will go down as the best QB in school history.
Mason Sullens led all of 3A in rushing with 2281 yards and 33 touchdowns. The senior who stands 6′ 215 lbs. has an old-school running style stepping out of tackles and showcasing good top-end acceleration into the 2nd level of the defense. Sullens was named Region Offensive Player of the Year and is currently unsigned. Duke Watson from Mary Persons has been an impact player dating back to his sophomore year and capped off his HS career with his 2nd All-State nod. The senior rushed for 1865 yards and 30 touchdowns. Watson was named Region Player of the Year and signed on with Louisville. Cedar Groves’ Bo Walker had to beat out some talented backs for the final spot, but the junior put it together in 2023. Walker rushed for 1575 yards and 29 touchdowns playing against the toughest strength of schedule of any team in 3A. He even caught 422 yards and another touchdown, giving the 2025 running back just a few yards short of 2k total.
Jamie Tremble improved each year while at Wesleyan and in 2023 he was one of the best receivers in the state. The versatile pass-catcher can line up anywhere, and a matchup nightmare. Tremble caught 1179 yards and 15 touchdowns while averaging an impressive 20.3 yards per catch. The senior will play for Syracuse next fall. Caden Arnold out of Calvary Day led the classification with 19 total touchdowns and 1280 receiving yards. The senior is very quick and runs true routes where he consistently finds himself open. Arnold will be attending Georgia Southern next fall. Devin Carter is another Cedar Grove player to make the All-State team. The sophomore standout led all of DeKalb County with 982 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. Carter is widely thought of as one of the top receivers in the country and the most productive wide receiver to come through Cedar Grove since Jadon Haselwood. Michael Smith led all tight ends in the classification with 722 yards and 14 touchdowns. Remarkably, Smith did that all in just 10 games. The 6’4″ 235 lbs. pass target only had 33 receptions on the year, so almost one in every two catches resulted in a score, which is unreal. Smith signed on with South Carolina.
Max Thurston has been the straw that stirs the drink in a lot of ways for the Monroe Area offensive attack. They kick him out to the sideline to make key blocks or just rely on his technical sound fundamentals in the trenches. Thurston was named Region Lineman of the Year and signed on with Navy. Kamren Dawkins out of Carver-Columbus is one of the toughest blockers in the state. The 6’3″ 280 lbs. OL has strong hands at the point of attack and an impressive leg drive while engaged. Dawkins is still uncommitted. Crisp County’s huge 6’6″ 315 lbs. offensive lineman Barry Walker earns an All-State spot. The jovial OL is serious on the field, and efficiently blocks guys down. Walker is signed on with UAB. Bo Britt out of Wesleyan was the team captain and played some great football in 2023 earning Region Lineman of the Year. The 6’3″ 265 lbs. senior is a relentless blocker with light feet and the versatility to play across the LOS. He is an underrated OL prospect who is still uncommitted. Jaylen Slaughter out of Cedar Grove earned Region Co-Lineman of the Year honors. The technically sound blocker has been a stalwart for the Saints the last few seasons and helped them again to a state title in 3A. Adairsville’s Bobby Campbell blocks with an intensity that the Richter Scale would have trouble registering. His earthquaking blocks are some of the best film you can find in the class of ’24. The 6’3″ 295 lbs. blocker has been named Region Lineman of the Year two years in a row and another big-time blocker who is still uncommitted.
Dawson County’s Dominic LeBlanc earned Special Teams Player of the Year in his region after making 9/16 with a long of 45. The Dawson County senior impressively had 868 receiving yards too, which says a lot about the general athlecism of LeBlanc. The specialist finished #14 all-time in field goals made in a career in Georgia. Lumpkin County’s Cal Faulkner put up some crazy numbers and did it all over the field, which rightfully earns him the All-State athlete spot. The junior threw for 1706 passing yards and 19 touchdowns and just 1 interception while also rushing for 929 yards and 18 additional scores. Those are pretty normal dual-threat numbers for a star athlete, but then Faulkner put up 645 yards receiving, 9 more scores, and even two interceptions on defense for good measure. Faulkner was named Region Player of the Year.
Moving over to defense where Elijah Griffin makes All-State for the 2nd year in a row. The Savannah Christian defensive lineman is considered by some to be a top 10 recruit in the country for the class of ’25. Griffin had 31 tackles for a loss and 17.5 sacks. Griffin helped his team to the 3A state title and should be in the hunt again in 2024. Kourtney Kelly out of Carver-Columbus plays with a physicality and toughness right at the snap that is hard to match. His motor helped him to 27 tackles for a loss and 12 sacks, earning him Defensive Player of the Year honors. The senior is currently uncommitted. Cedar Grove’s senior duo Kyle Mosley and Chase Kerns both land All-State honors. While both earned Region Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year honors, both have drastically different impacts on the game. Mosley is the anchor in the middle using his strength to bull rush up the middle and blow up plays in the backfield. While Kerns uses his versatility and length to be among the most consistent pass-rushers in 3A. Kerns led the team with 18 tackles for a loss and Mosley was not too far behind. Stephens County was in the top 5 for most of the 2023 regular season, and senior Aiden Butts was a big reason why. The All-State defender had 73 tackles and 26 tackles for a loss. Butts was one of the classification leaders with 12 sacks. He was named Region Player of the Year and is signed on with Middle Tennessee.
Jamontez Hines is an edge rusher who also played in space at times. The hybrid linebacker had 26 tackles for a loss on the year and was 2nd in the classification with 16 sacks. The Carver-Atlanta senior was named Region Defensive Player of the Year and is still unsigned. David Bucey from Savannah Christian has been Mr. Versatile in 3A for the last few seasons. The senior who is signed on with South Carolina had 111 tackles and 17 tackles for a loss while also impacting the offense with 769 yards and 6 touchdowns. He was named Region Athlete of the Year. Landen Vickers from Morgan County is a thumping senior linebacker who stands 6’2″ 225 lbs. Vickers had 124 tackles, 7 forced fumbles, and 17 tackles for a loss on the year, helping Morgan County to one of their best seasons in the last 5 years. Vickers was named Region Defensive Player of the Year. Jacobi Jones from Mary Persons is a speedy linebacker who has been an impact player since his sophomore year. The senior capped off his HS career by being named Region Defensive Player of the Year. Jones just recently committed to Georgia State. Hephzibah’s Telly Johnson was named Region Player of the Year in 2023. The senior rushed for 1339 yards and 21 touchdowns, but played defense for the first time, leading his team with 79 tackles. Johnson is one of the top athletes in 3A and signed on with Northern Illinois.
Stephens County’s Jasec Smith was tied for the classification lead with 7 interceptions. The senior had double-digit pass breakups too, on top of being a reliable receiver with 500 yards. Smith was named Region Defensive Player of the Year. Jamari McIvory, also known as Space Ghost on social media, also had 7 interceptions in the year. Several of those went back for scores. McIvory was one of the state leaders in yards returned on his interceptions in fact and has legit track speed at the CB position. Lakhi Roland is a Nebraska signee who also had 5 interceptions on the year. The talented defensive back uses his length to break up passes with a large radius. D’Marcus Clements is another Cedar Grove defensive back to make the All-State team. The junior had one of the best interceptions of the year in the 3A title game against Savannah Christian, negating a potential touchdown, which brought his total to 4. Clements is an impressive CB prospect that will garner a lot of FBS interest this offseason. Douglass’ Jontae Gilbert is the last All-State selection among the defensive backs. The junior has been a national recruit since his freshman year, even being committed to Ohio State for a while. Gilbert is a versatile defensive back with the frame and instincts to impact both the run and pass. He was named Region Defensive Player of the Year. Gilbert is set for a huge senior year.
Andrew Bennett out of Thomasville averaged just under 40 yards per punt in 2023 and impressively dropped 18 punts inside the 20-yard line. Bennett consistently gets 4-second hangtime on his punts. He just committed to Charlotte. Malachi Miller is a very adept skill player who was the hatchet man for Cedar Grove scoring 10 touchdowns while also getting an interception at cornerback. As a special teams player though, Miller might just have his biggest impact for the Saints. The senior returned two kicks on the year, one in the semifinals against Calvary Day, which played a pivotal role in winning. Miller is someone you can bank on making a long return during the biggest moments, and those types of impact plays are championship caliber.
Ahmari Douglas, Long Co./Javin Gordon, Stephens Co./Thomas Blackshear, Calvary Day/Wesley Brown, Cedar Grove/Junior Avila, West Hall/Kenry Wall, Savannah Christian/Dalen Penson, Sandy Creek/Dawson Pendergrass, LaFayette/Adonis Brazil, Upson-Lee/Kameyon Green, Monroe /Tyquis Brown, Carver-Columbus/Cedric Roberts, Peach Co./Tyler Scott, Savannah Country Day/Cutter Powell, Calvary Day/AJ Wilson, Carver-Columbus/Bryce Hart, Ringgold/Jon Scott, White County/Aspen Hataway, Gilmer/Jeremiah Searcy, Upson-Lee/Jaden Miles, Savannah Christian/Matthew Wright, Wesleyan/Javon Beckford, Cedar Grove /Maurice Davis, Dougherty/Antavious Elder, Morgan Co/Keshawn Jordan, Thomasville /Solomon Dupree, Stephens Co./Nasan Houston, Cross Creek/Evan Harvey, Sandy Creek/Walter Mathis, Calvary Day/Bentavious Reviere, Upson-Lee/Justin Moore, Sandy Creek/Jayvon Tatum, Mary Persons/Luke Waters, Stephens Co./Will Holder, Harlem/Cooper Dean, Stephens Co./Jerome Brown, Long Co./Lane McColman, Lumpkin Co./Briggs Weaver, Dawson Co./Jordyn Millerhorne, Peach Co/Zo Smalls, Savannah Christian/Mac Ricks, Oconee Co/Jamarian Pullum, Adairsville/Jonathan Gough, Adairsville/Ben Brown, Wesleyan/Ethan Evangelista, Harlem/Sam Streicher, Pickens/Blaise Thomas, Savannah Christian/Barton Mixon, Savannah Country Day/Corey Randle, Monroe/Tripp Nix, White Co./DJ Hudson, Peach Co./Darrion Manuel, Monroe Area/De’Ante Childs, Carver-Columbus/Jaydon Dorsey, Morgan Co./Ryan Fowler, White Co./Jaquan Bentley, Upson-Lee/Amari Latimer, Sandy Creek/Elijah Hayes, West Hall/Khalas Finley, LaFayette/Devon Caldwell, Hebron Christian/Caiden Wood, Oconee Co./Elijah Evangelista, Harlem/Luke Evans, Lumpkin Co./Keith James, Savannah Country Day/Kee Williams, Harlem/Deshaun Fedd, Crisp Co./Hayden Jones, Pickens/Cole Shaw, Thomasville/Baer Cole, Weslayan/McCord Purdy, Pickens/Dylan Johnson, Peach Co./Jeramiah Payne, Liberty Co./Tre Winters, Adairsville/Gerrit Kemp, Hebron Christian/Brooks Kleinpeter, Savannah Country Day/Payton Simpson, LFO/Baylor Davis, Harlem/Jaylen Walden, Thomasville/Kenny Pickens, Long Co./Logan Heyward, Hephzibah/Santana Smith, Stephens Co./Malachi Character, Upson-Lee/Jordan Thomas, Monroe/Will Wood, Lumpkin Co./Materius Glover, Crisp Co./Max Steve, Hebron Christian/RJ Holder, Mary Persons/LaDamion Guyton, Savannah Christian/Cavaughn Durham, Monroe Area/Jayden Odoms, Mary Persons/Nicholas Whitefield, LaFayette/Rooster Bing, Savannah Country Day/Quentin Morris, Calvary Day/Michael Johnson, Carver-Atlanta/Dacian Davis, Monroe Area/Tristian Givens, Carver-Columbus/Simeon John, Hebron Christian/Sichan John, Hebron Christian/Dawson Childs, Stephens Co./Logan Brooking, Savannah Christian/Davon Swinton, Stephens Co./Brody Dawson, Calvary Day/Zykevin Cross, Crisp Co./Townes Hardy, Wesleyan/Jakorey West, Carver-Columbus/Sidney Carter, Mary Persons/Terrious Favors, Caver-Atlanta/Torrance Polk, Douglass/Trevor Strowbridge, Calvary Day/Jeremiah Branscomb, Carver-Columbus/CJ Jones, Crisp Co./Joshua Stone, Caver-Atlanta/Jefferson Murray, ARC/Will Staples, Lumpkin Co./Hayden Vandegriff, White Co./Ricky Valdovinos, Monroe Area/Carlos Singleton, Liberty Co./Athon Herrin, Savannah Country Day/Kevon Merrell, Crisp Co./Terrance Warren III, Caver-Columbus/Luke Willis, Upson-Lee/Camari Edwards, Jackson/D.J. Walton, Mary Persons/Andrew Nicholson, Savannah Country Day/Jayceon Little, Johnson/Tyson Gross, Savannah Christian/Sam Hensley, Calvary Day/Chandler Reid, Beach/Lo’than McBride, ARC/Caleb Williams, Salem/Nate Cogle, Hephzibah/Jamari Mundy, Morgan Co./Trevon Rhodes, Morgan Co./Zach Moore, Morgan Co./Darien Harden, Douglass/Joshua Stone, Carver-Atlanta/Arlando Crafton Jr., Carver-Atlanta/Kelton McCrary, Carver-Atlanta/Marcus Young, Carver-Atlanta/Rodrick Hunter, Carver-Atlanta/Jaquon Fletcher, Douglass/Cohen Jordan, Sandy Creek/Nick Watts, Sandy Creek/Jordan Thornton, Cedar Grove/Chase Ward, Coahulla Creek/A.J. Sanders, Bremen/Evan Brown, Bremen/Jonah Hatchett, Bremen/Brody Barrow, Bremen/Logan Roberts, Ringgold/Bo Cronic, Gilmer/Nori Moore, Hart Co/Dean Maynard, Hebron Christian/Owen Kesler, Hart Co./Caleb Smith, Oconee Co.