Every week, I’m rolling out a Top 10 list, leading up to the 2017 high school football season.
This week, let’s take a look at 10 guys who are major matchup problems for opponents with their multiple skills and athleticism. You can’t really give them one position. They’re what recruiters like to call “Athletes.”
Top 10 Athletes
No. 1 Lance Lawson, Mesa Red Mountain, 5-9, 185, Sr.
Wind this guy up and let him go. He’ll make plays all over the field, any time, any place. He is even moving to full-time safety this season under new coach Mike Peterson, who was the team’s defensive coordinator last season. He started out as a quarterback, starting on varsity as a freshman. His best spot on offense is tailback, where he is capable of breaking loose for big plays on any given down. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield or as a wide receiver. Game changer.
No. 2 Josiah Bradley, Scottsdale Saguaro, 6-1, 208, Sr.
He will become a full-time tailback after 2,000-yard rusher Stone Matthews graduated. He also is back at strong safety, where he is one of the best in the West at that position. Bradley has the size, speed, power and moves to be one of the state’s more dynamic and versatile players.
No. 3 Draycen Hall, Gilbert Higley, Sr.
It’s really hard to pin a position on him. He moved from slot receiver to tailback last season out of need and he went on to become the Gatorade Arizona Football Player of the Year. Hall’s strength, balance and speed make him a difficult matchup. He is threat to return kickoffs back for touchdowns. Big-time game changer.
No. 4 Jamarye Joiner, Vail Cienega, 6-2, 200, Sr.
This dynamic dual-threat quarterback who has committed to the University of Arizona put his team on his back last season to make a strong run in the 5A Conference. He’s gotten even bigger, faster and more elusive to dial up more big plays this season.
No. 5 Bijan Robinson, Tucson Salpointe, 6-0, 190, So.
He added 20 pounds since last season and is even faster. This running back/receiver/kick returner has a rare blend of power, speed and athleticism. Coach Dennis Bene calls him, “a sophomore in a senior’s body.”
No. 6 Dez Melton, Glendale Deer Valley, 6-4, 210, Jr.
This big-time playmaker has the tools to become one of the best athletes ever to come through the school. He can play running back, wide receiver and safety. His skills are off the charts. The Skyhawks will have fun putting him in spots where he become a mismatch for opponents.
No. 7 D’Shayne James, Gilbert Perry, 6-3, 210, Jr.
He has a big-time arm and the ability to extend plays at quarterback. But with Brock Purdy, last year’s All-Arizona quarterback, returning, you’ll see James as Purdy’s big-play receiver out wide and in the slot. Perry has a number of playmakers, so James should be able to find himself in single coverage and make big plays after catches.
No. 8 Jordan Ware, Peoria Centennial, 6-1, 205, Sr.
He will be this year’s version of John Rincon, the 6A Player of the Year his senior season in 2015 when the Coyotes captured the state championship. Ware will finally get his chance to play running back, to go along with his outside linebacker duties. Rincon didn’t run the ball until his senior season, because he really didn’t have anybody to back him up at linebacker in case he got injured. He then did. And Ware will now. Watch him make plays.
No. 9 Joshua Walker, Scottsdale Desert Mountain, 6-1, 185, Sr.
Plays wide receiver and cornerback equally well with dynamics that set him apart. He’ll become the leader of the team on both sides of the ball. He had 844 receiving yards last season. He also a big-time threat to return punts and kickoffs back for touchdowns.
No. 10 Giovanni Miranda, Saguaro, 6-4, 205, Sr.
He possesses not only the physical qualities – length, athleticism and ball skills – that makes him tough to stop. But he is a coach’s dream with his attitude and leadership in the locker room, classroom. He’ll play anywhere from tight end to H-back to outside linebacker in the team’s drive for five state titles in a row.
Next week: Top 10 quarterbacks
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