To some it might seem early but as players begin hitting lifting PR’s and getting in shape- the season has never quite ended. The chase for a trip to Wheeling never ends, and we are taking Fridays in the current offseason to highlight the top five players returning per position in AAA and AA/A (combined). Not on the list? Good thing it’s not even preseason yet. Prove us right or prove us wrong.
Without further ado…
Chance Knox (Capital) 2020
Jake Johnson (Parkersburg) 2019
Michael Boaitey (Martinsburg) 2019
TIE – #5 Jack Stakem
School: Wheeling Park
HT/WT: 5’8 / 175 lbs
Stakem heads into his senior year with impressive stats under his belt but without star-QB Cross Wilkinson tossing him the pigskin. With a lot of new faces on the Patriot offense, Stakem will be looked to as the spark plug that can hit at any time. Though smaller in size, he has modest hands and the ability to get north fast. His big play ability will have offenses struggling as he also is a stellar short route runner.
TIE – #5 Deishawn Harper
HT/WT: 5’10 / 180 lbs
Harper possesses some of the best hip movement in the state. If he is allowed more than a yard of open space, very few players in the state are tackling him. Capital has a multitude of tools on their offense so he will receive plenty of opportunities to slash for big plays. If he can play with more consistency all-around, Harper could have a great senior year.
#4 Jarod Bowie
HT/WT: 5’9 / 170 lbs
Any other year and Bowie comes in at the number one spot. He’s small but plays similar to that of Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill. Being a deviant on special teams as well, Bowie has perhaps the best acceleration of anyone in the state. His plant-and-go is a big reason he became Tyson Bagent’s favorite receiver last year. Besides his speed, he has a stellar ability to high point balls in the air for his size.
#3 Brenton Strange
HT/WT: 6’4 / 220 lbs
Strange only falls to #3 because he is a tight end playing wide receiver. Don’t let the rank indicate our feelings- Strange is one of the most college-ready players in the state. He has unfair length and a good amount of finesse and grace with his route running and catching. Though lanky, he is also deceptively elusive and has a deep book of tricks. A for-sure campaign year as he caps off a Parkersburg Hall of Fame career.
#2 Malakai Brown
HT/WT: 5’11 / 195 lbs
Once again, any other year and Brown is #1 and even in 2018, we can’t fully say he isn’t. Brown exploded onto the scene for Hedgesville last season as a sophomore leading the entire country in receiving stats for his grade. He has almost everything you want in a receiver with an elite ball-tracking instinct, big play-making ability, and moments where you can’t believe he just did that. We won’t argue those who have him as #1.
#1 Amir Richardson
HT/WT: 6’3 / 205 lbs
Richardson comes in as our numero uno because he is a combination of many of the other’s great traits. He has big play ability, excellent hands and ball-playing, and is very consistent and versatile. What separates Richardson is he has superb speed and explosion but also a next level frame. University’s offense might not have his numbers match the others on the list but go watch him for yourself.
Who did we miss? Let us know! We never shy away from people telling us we’re missing out on kids! Our next Feature Five Friday will take on the top returning wide receivers in AA/A! Let us know who should be in there!
Sorry but Bowie should be much higher on this list. Jarod does not have stats which are padded against AAA weaklings such as Preston County and Hampshire or AA teams like Frankfort or Berkeley Springs. The true measure of a player’s ability is: how the player performs on the big stage and against superior competition?
Just ask Capital and Spring Valley’s coaches how they rate Bowie’s abilities.