10 players make up best in Lowcountry football list

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- In the second installment of my blog leading into high school football season, I look back a bit into the past.

It's been a heck of a run for the Lowcountry lately with top national recruits and it got me thinking a bit of who would make a "Top 10 players of the last 10 years" list?

I drew up a list of guys that really stuck out in my mind. I didn't so much look at straight statistics, but thought of guys whose names we called all the time on Friday nights. I looked at guys who led their team to successful seasons and championships. I looked back at who had the respect of coaches to make North/South or Shine Bowls. I looked for guys that were heavily recruited. My list is by no means perfect, but I believe it's pretty solid.

It's up for discussion. I'd love to hear from you. Did I forget anyone? Did I snub someone? Did I mix up the order of the top 10?

Obviously with different positions, it is hard to compare apples and oranges and that is why I didn't concentrate as much on straight statistics. I've also included a list of guys that just missed our list. Here is what I came up with:

10. Haydrian Lewis from Stratford High School -- Here's a guy who I always thought was an unsung hero. Lewis was overlooked a bit at Stratford and at Clemson, but when injuries didn't prevent him from being on the field, Haydrian Lewis was a top notch defensive player. He could intercept passes, and made a ton of tackles. He always seemed to be like a guy that was in the right place at the right time. He hit hard but didn't have the flashiness of other guys that came through Stratford like Moe Thompson or Rodney Kinlaw, but Lewis had the tools to be very effective on the field.

9. Jacob Park from Stratford High School -- This pick is a bit of speculation, a bit of proven fact.{} Park is the biggest QB prospect to come out of the Lowcountry in the past ten years. He can run, he can throw, he's tall and has the frame; he can lead a team and every college coach in the country is drooling over Park. The work under his belt hasn't put him on this list yet, but I assume by the end of this year, he may be higher than No. 9. He's started for Stratford his entire high school career and has been a stud for a long time. Park has all the tools and makeup to be a top college player at Georgia and eventually taking snaps in the NFL. His injury last year prevented us from seeing what he can truly do during crunch time of a season, but with his body of work and upside, Jacob Park makes our list at nine.

8. Brandon Shell of Goose Creek -- Shell is a mountain of a man with obvious pedigree. The nephew of NFL great Art Shell was literally not able to be moved up front for Goose Creek. The Gators straight up dominated with Shell but fell one game short of a state title appearance with Shell up front. Regardless, Shell was in the forefront of the true rebuilding of a program at Goose Creek. After transferring from West Ashley High, Shell found a niche blocking for his brother Virgil Smalls and QB Ja'Quan Marsh. Shell decided to go to USC where, after redshirting a year, he's taken over as a major cog on the offensive line.

7. Rockarius King from Timberland High School -- King flat out ran over everyone in front of him for the Timberland Wolves. Like I said, I'm not huge on statistics, but running for 6,343 yards over his high school career is a pretty impressive statistic for anyone. "The Rock," as we called him on Friday nights, was fun to watch, electrifying at times, running for three, four, or five touchdowns in a game. He never won a state title for Timberland although he played in the 2006 state final against Blythewood, but wasn't highly recruited, likely because of his size. {}I always felt if King was on a team he could break off some crazy plays and open as many eyes as he did in rural Berkeley County on Friday nights. I've always regarded King as one of my favorite high school players to watch on Friday nights just because he was an instant highlight reel for photographers running out to St. Stephen. King signed with SC State after graduating. He redshirted his freshman year and ran into some trouble after that. He was suspended by Buddy Pough for his sophomore season before transferring to Edward Waters College in Jacksonville.

6. Andre Ellington of Berkeley High School -- The first Ellington on our list, Andre was a perfect running back for Berkeley and Dr. Jerry Brown. He was blazing fast with great vision. His size, which made him a bit more injury prone in college, didn't affect him in high school and it showed. Ellington was elusive and his epic battles with AJ Green truly elevated the Berkeley-Summerville Rivalry. He was the Stags' go-to guy for several years; in his senior season he scored 28 touchdowns and gained well over 2,000 yards. Ellington shined in Berkeley High's first ever national television game and was heavily recruited, deciding to play for Clemson.{} Ellington was recently picked by the Arizona Cardinals and he'll begin his NFL career in the very near future.{}

5. Robert Quinn from Fort Dorchester -- Quinn is an interesting one as well for this list. He was a giant on and off the field -- and mat as he was a star wrestler as well -- for Fort Dorchester his junior season. He was a sack and tackle machine and a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. His senior season was a bit of a disappointment on the field, which we later found out was result of a brain tumor that was removed the week of his senior night for the Patriots. Steve LaPrad described him several times as being a bit "out of it" mentally and not knowing where he was supposed to be on the field that season. His mind was obviously clouded by the brain tumor. His talent was still there, his size was still there and his athleticism was still there; several schools still heavily pursued Quinn through the medical issues. On signing day, he chose UNC over Alabama and the rest is history. He dominated for the Tar Heels before getting in trouble for accepting impermissible gifts but was still drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Rams.{}

4. Tramel Terry of Goose Creek -- Terry was the near-perfect offensive player in high school.{} Blazing fast off the line of scrimmage, he always found plenty of open space and was a mainstay for the Gators in the end zone. Terry led Goose Creek to a state championship in his junior season and looked to be leading them to another one, before the team was punished for an illegal player and taken out of the playoffs his senior year by the SCHSL. Terry was a prized recruit from his freshman year on, and truly lived up to the billing. Terry was an all around player: in his final season he caught for, rushed for and returned over 1,000 yards. He decided to attend Georgia and graduated a semester early, but tore an ACL in the Shrine Bowl. It's not yet known if Terry will play as a freshman at UGA while recovering from the injury but whatever he does in the future, he'll go down as one of the best ever in Lowcountry high school football.

3. Carlos Dunlap from Fort Dorchester -- Dunlap was one of the most prized recruits to ever come out of the Lowcountry not only for his size, but also his speed and athleticism. Dunlap was truly a man among boys, a 6-foot 6-inch, 250-pound lineman who will be most remembered for returning a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, Dunlap had all of the tools that college coaches coveted. He was a massive force on the defensive line and truly looked like he was playing on a different field than the rest of the players. Dunlap's success didn't always translate to team success but he showed at the next level how truly gifted of an athlete he was. Dunlap was the Sugar Bowl MVP for the Florida Gators and likely would have been a first round pick if not for a DUI charge the week of the SEC championship game. Dunlap however seems to have stayed on track in the NFL, and just signed a massive $40 million deal with the Cincinnati Bengals.

2. Bruce Ellington of Berkeley High -- The second Ellington on the list was without a doubt the most complete high school athlete I've ever seen. Ellington was able to do everything from the day he stepped on the field in Moncks Corner. He was Berkeley's best running back, their best wide receiver and their best quarterback. His epic performance in the state semifinal game against Goose Creek led Berkeley to the state championship game. Of course, Ellington dominated in the 2009 state title game, leading the Stags to a state title. He was untouchable.{} Ellington was the fastest player I've ever covered, had the best vision on the field I've ever seen. Flat out, guys could not tackle Bruce Ellington and he was a winner with an unbelievable work ethic. What made Ellington the most impressive high school athlete I've ever seen? He signed with South Carolina to play basketball! Ellington is now one of the elite basketball and football players in the SEC truly living up to his billing. I can only imagine what he'd be like if he played just one sport full time.

1. AJ Green from Summerville High School -- There's no question here. AJ Green is the best high school football player ever in the Lowcountry. John McKissick has seen over 60 years worth of players and he said in AJ's 8th grade year that Green would be the best he ever coached. AJ lived up to it and more. AJ caught 53 touchdown passes over four years at Summerville High School. Green never had less than 1,200 yards receiving in a season for Summerville. He led the Green Wave to the 2007 state championship game, although the Green Wave lost to Byrnes High School. Green was the epitome of a high school football star. He absolutely dominated in all aspects of the offensive game. Green was tall, lean, fast with hands like glue.{} As good of a football player as Green was, I thought he was just as dominant a basketball player, leading Summerville to one of the most memorable state championships in history, playing for their former coach Louis Mulkey, who was one of the Charleston 9 firefighters that died in the Sofa Super Store fire. Green went on to continue his dominant ways at Georgia before being drafted in the first round by the Bengals. Green has now proven himself to be a top wide receiver in the NFL, even catching 3 touchdown passes in last year's Pro Bowl.


HONORABLE MENTIONS ------------------------------- Reid McCollum - QB- Summerville Quinton Washington - OL- Timberland Shaq Mitchell - QB- Baptist Hill Cody Craig - QB- Timberland Deangelo Henderson - RB- Summerville Gimel President - DL- Wando Justin Bolus - QB- James Island