In 2019’s first installment of player rankings, I take a stab at trying to put all of the talent from our nearly 30-school coverage area into a college football-themed top 25. Since the talent is so deep that there are plenty of stars not included, I included a few players to watch who may make the end-of-year top 25.
1. Will Shipley, Weddington RB/DB/KR
Union County’s first-ever 5-star recruit is absolutely the real deal. Shipley is ranked the No. 1 all-purpose back in the Class of 2020, the No. 2 recruit in N.C. and the No. 44-ranked recruit in the country according to 247Sports.com. He has offers from all of the big guns. Last season, he averaged seven yards per carry, ran for more than 1,400 yards, accumulated over 1,800 yards of total offense and scored 25 touchdowns. He’s also a standout defensive back and could have an even bigger offensive impact for the defending champs in 2019.
2. Drake Maye, Myers Park QB
The Myers Park junior was absolutely terrific last season, completing 188-of-291 passes (65%) for 3,201 yards and 36 touchdowns against just five interceptions. He also ran for a couple of scores. This year, the Alabama commit once again is charged with directing one of the best offenses in the state. With the return of Muhsin Muhammad III and Porter Rooks, the addition of Twan Flip, the emergence of Logan Mauldin and Jordan Bly, a solid run game and his continued development, Maye could easily be even better.
3. Muhsin Muhammad III, Myers Park WR/DB/KR
As dynamic and explosive a receiver as you’ll find, Moose is lightning quick with great hands. Last season, the 4-star recruit ranked No. 6 in N.C.’s Class of 2020, produced over 1,000 receiving yards, over 1,300 total yards and 14 touchdowns. Muhammad has committed to Texas A&M.
4. Kedrick Bingley-Jones, Providence Day DE/OL
The North Carolina commit is an absolute monster on the defensive side of the ball. He will switch this season to full-time offensive line after playing some tight end last year. No matter where the Charger senior lines up, he brings the heat. Despite facing constant double teams last season, Bingley-Jones was third on the team in tackles and led the Chargers in sacks.
5. Porter Rooks, Myers Park WR
Rooks will add another level of firepower to an already loaded Mustang offense. The N.C. State commit nearly had 1,000 yards receiving at Providence Day last season, but Mustang QB Drake Maye has already shown he can accommodate a pair of 1,000-yard seasons in this offense. Rooks is a 4-star recruit ranked No. 7 in N.C.’s Class of 2020.
6. Gavin Blackwell, Sun Valley WR
Still just a junior, Blackwell is a 4-star recruit ranked No. 12 in the Class of 2021 with nearly 25 offers, including from heavy-hitters like Florida, Florida State, Ohio State and North Carolina. Blackwell hauled in 51 catches for 1,136 yards (22.3 yards per catch) and 19 TDs last season. He should at least duplicate that, and it won’t matter that a freshman is throwing to him.
7. Cameron Roseman-Sinclair, Myers Park S
The fourth Mustang in the top seven of the player rankings, but the North Carolina commit is a justified selection. Seen as a 4-star recruit and the No. 11-ranked player in N.C.’s Class of 2020, Roseman-Sinclair is a ball hawk who was third on the Mustang defense with 69 tackles. He defended six passes and had two interceptions despite teams avoiding his side of the field.
8. Shaleak Knotts, Monroe WR/DB
Knotts is one of two Union County 4-star WR recruits.The sophomore is more than justified in his selection. Long, quick and athletic, Knotts made his presence felt immediately after he hauled in 51 catches for 757 yards and 10 touchdowns. Knotts has at least 10 offers from colleges, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Penn State, Virginia Tech and East Carolina.
9. Jacolbe Cowan, Providence Day DE/TE
Cowan can get to the quarterback with a quick first step and massive frame that has college coaches looking on in awe. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Cowan is listed as a 3-star recruit and the No. 15 overall prospect in N.C.’s Class of 2020. He holds at least 38 scholarship offers from schools, including Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Georgia and Tennessee.
10. Cedric Gray, Ardrey Kell WR/CB
Gray is an athlete in every sense of the word. The silky smooth North Carolina commit is a highly regarded defensive back who recorded 60 tackles and three sacks while locking down opponents’ best receivers. Gray has become an accomplished receiver himself, hauling in 55 catches for 891 yards and 10 scores, making him one of the area’s top two-way talents.
11. Anthony Carter, Butler OL
At 6-foot-4 and nearly 300 pounds, Carter projects as a high-level recruit with a ready-made college body, especially when you consider how nimble and quick he is. He is the No. 23-ranked recruit in N.C.’s Class of 2020 with nearly 30 offers from schools, including Michigan State, North Carolina, N.C. State, Duke, West Virginia and Texas A&M.
12. Michael Gonzalez, Sun Valley OL
Gonzalez is a big-bodied (6-foot-4, 285-pound) junior who will lead the Spartans’ potent rushing attack. A 3-star recruit ranked 24th in the N.C. Class of 2021, Gonzalez has at least a dozen offers from programs, including North Carolina, N.C. State, Illinois, Ohio State and Florida.
13. Kaci Seegars, Ardrey Kell LB
Seegars isn’t the biggest name on this list just yet, but the junior linebacker is making a name for himself after finishing with 63 tackles, 10 quarterback hurries, two sacks and a pair of forced fumbles as a sophomore. Seegars holds just a handful of offers now, but the 3-star recruit ranked No. 26 in the Class of 2021 is in line for a monster season.
14. Malik McGowan, Charlotte Catholic OL
McGowan is a monster of a man already at 6-foot-4, 345 pounds, but the 3-star Charlotte Catholic left tackle’s quickness and power should lead to a huge season on the ground for the two-time defending champs. McGowan has committed to North Carolina.
15. Phifer Griffin, Metrolina Christian OL
At 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds, Griffin projects as a prototypical left tackle on the next level and beyond with his size, power and speed. The Illinois commit was ranked a 3-star recruit and N.C.’s No. 31 recruit in the Class of 2020.
16. Alec Mock, Weddington LB
Mock was a rock for the state champion Warriors last season, registering a ridiculous stat line that included 150 tackles, seven passes defended, 5.5 sacks and a pair of interceptions. The 3-star recruit ranked 50th overall in the state and has upwards of 25 offers.
17. Jamal Worthy, Butler RB
Worthy had to split reps last season and still led the Bulldog rushing attack with his combination of size, speed and vision. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound back is a 3-star recruit whose offers are just starting to ramp up. Worthy could lead our coverage area in rushing this year.
18. Tyson Clawson, Independence DE/TE
Clawson is still growing into his body, but already had a massive impact on the field. Last season as a sophomore, he averaged six tackles per game and had 13.5 sacks and 10 QB hurries. Clawson is a 3-star recruit ranked No. 46 in the Class of 2021.
19. JB Awolowo, Charlotte Christian RB/WR/DB/KR
The jack-of-all-trades had his hands in every aspect of the game last season as a part-time player who made a huge impact for the state champs. Awolowo is moving back to his natural position of running back. He will be a threat no matter where he gets the ball, but he’ll get it a lot in this offense.
20. Jesiah Davis, Providence Day WR/DB
Davis was third on the Chargers in catches and yards behind a strong upper class, but he’s ready for a big breakout season. The 6-2, 170-pound junior is ranked as the No. 25 prospect in the Class of 2021 and should become a household name before the year is up.
21. Matt Bennett, Monroe QB
Monroe has maybe the best collection of skill players in our coverage area, and the Ardrey Kell transfer will be the sole beneficiary of that. He’s already a 3-star recruit with a handful of offers, but after the season he’s capable of having, that could drastically change in his favor.
22. Lamagea McDowell, Charlotte Catholic RB
McDowell is the perfect fit for the vaunted Charlotte Catholic run game. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound tackle breaker ran for 1,270 yards and 17 TDs and is a two-time Championship Game Offensive MVP. The 3-star recruit has a handful of offers already, but more are coming his way.
23. Jake Snapp, Providence
Snapp is my No. 1 breakout of the year candidate. Last season, he starred on defense by making 64 tackles and picking off four passes, but he’s a 3-star recruit ranked 45th in the N.C. Class of 2021 as a running back. He only got 36 carries last season, but he’ll get his share and be involved in the pass and run game.
24. Jadus Davis, Metrolina Christian RB/WR/DB/KR
Davis is the catalyst to a great Warrior offense, and the speedster seems to do everything well. Last season, he averaged nine yards a carry and ran for 900 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also caught 41 balls for 632 yards and six TDs. Davis is also an elite cornerback and return man.
25. Trey Alsbrooks, Weddington LB
Alsbrooks is going to bring the boom this season as a linebacker after playing defensive end most of his varsity career. Alsbrooks recorded nearly 100 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 30 quarterback hurries last year. He should put up more stats from his new spot.
Best of the Rest
26. Nickel Fields, Providence Day RB/DB; 27. Ian Hutter, Marvin Ridge WR; 28. Michael Hetzel, Ardrey Kell WR; 29. Trey Richburg, Butler OL; 30. Derek Young Jr., Union Academy WR/DB; 31. Liam Barbee, Charlotte Catholic LB; 32. Brock Cain, Parkwood TE/WR/LB; 33. Billy Brewer, Charlotte Catholic LB; 34. AJ Tolber, Charlotte Latin OL/DE; 35. Quentin Nelson, Country Day RB; 36. Kirkland Harris, Porter Ridge RB/DB; 37. Chase Speicher, Marvin Ridge DB; 38. Malik Mustapha, Weddington WR/DB; 39. Connor Purser, Piedmont RB/LB; 40. David Billiard, Covenant Day OL/DL; 41. Tacory Robinson, Sun Valley RB; 42. Julian Swann, Country Day OL/DL; 43. Logan Mauldin, Myers Park TE; 44. Randy Johnson, Charlotte Latin WR/DB; 45. Tigo Moss, South Meck WR; 46. Brian Grier, Rocky River LB; 47. Shai Wheeler, Independence WR; 48. Kalil Alexander, Rocky River LB; 49. Brooks Gsell, Piedmont RB/WR/DB; 50 Carson Black, Sun Valley freshman QB;