With 176 players in total, Cobb County continues to send talented players to the Division I ranks of college football.
A number of well-established defensive starters like Myles Murphy, BJ Ojulari, Jaylen McCollough and Rashad Torrence lead the way as some of the most proven players from the county.
However, high-potential players like Arik Gilbert, Jamil Burroughs and Taji Johnson could have much larger roles for their respective teams in 2022, and the group of 41 freshmen from the county could also make an impact in their first season at the next level.
Here is the All-Cobb County College Football Team for the 2022 season:
QB Harrison Bailey (R-So.), Marietta, UNLV
Bailey transferred to UNLV after spending two seasons at Tennessee, including a redshirt year in 2021, when he was beaten out by Hendon Hooker for the starting job. Bailey started the Volunteers’ final three games of the season, completing 34 of 45 passes for 403 yards and four touchdowns in those starts. Now in the Mountain West Conference, Bailey is expected to open the season as the starter under center for the Rebels.
RB Kimani Vidal (So.), Marietta, Troy
Vidal has been the lead back for Troy for the past two seasons, amassing 1,217 rushing yards and nine touchdowns while averaging just under 5 yards per carry. Once again set to be the starting running back for the Trojans, Vidal should pick up where he left off with another strong showing in 2022.
RB Jordon Simmons (Jr.), McEachern, Michigan State
Simmons rushed for 278 yards as the backup for star back Kenneth Walker III last season, and with Walker now in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks, there could be an opportunity for Simmons to earn more carries this season. It won’t be easy to win the starting job outright with transfers Jarek Broussard and Jalen Berger coming in, but with a strong summer, he could be solidly in the rotation.
WR Dominick Blaylock (Jr.), Walton, Georgia
After catching 18 passes for 310 yards and five touchdowns in 2019, Blaylock has struggled with injuries, tearing the same ACL in 2019 and 2020. He finally returned to the field for the final five games of Georgia’s 2021 slate. Now, two years removed from his second ACL tear, Blaylock figures to be a key cog in Georgia’s receiving corps.
WR Taji Johnson (Jr.), Marietta, Boston College
Johnson has had a quiet first two seasons in Boston, but his 6-3, 210-pound frame makes him a unique weapon for the Eagles’ receiving corps. He has more size than any of his fellow receivers and should get plenty of opportunities to make plays on the outside this season as a result.
WR Ricky White (So.), Marietta, UNLV
White spent two seasons at Michigan State before transferring UNLV earlier this year. White had a huge performance against Michigan during his freshman year, making eight catches for 196 yards and a touchdown, but he struggled to find a consistent role from there and ended up redshirting in 2021. Now reunited with high school teammate Harrison Bailey, White is primed to be more of a featured weapon with the Rebels.
TE Arik Gilbert (R-So.), Marietta, Georgia
Gilbert hauled in 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman at LSU. Following a transfer to Georgia, he spent the 2021 season away from football. Gilbert is back with the Bulldogs for 2022, and even in a tight end room filled with talent, Gilbert’s combination of size and athleticism should allow him to make an impact for the defending national champions on offense.
T John Thomas (Jr.), Hillgrove, Mercer
Thomas has played in 30 games over three seasons with Mercer and should once again be a starter along the offensive line this season.
G Cason Henry, (Fr.), Walton, South Carolina
Henry, a true freshman out of Walton, is unlikely to see much game action in 2022, but he has high potential long-term in the Gamecocks offense.
C Will Scissum (R-So.), Walker, Georgia Tech
Scissum has yet to see game action for the Yellow Jackets, but with an inexperienced group along the offensive line, he could push for playing time at center or guard.
G Hunter Nourzad (R-Sr.), Walker, Penn State
After spending four seasons in the Ivy League with Cornell, Nourzad transferred to Penn State earlier this year. Though he started 20 games at right tackle for Cornell, Nourzad is likely set to compete for one of the guard spots on the Nittany Lions’ offensive line.
T Jonathan Bass (R-Sr.), Kell, Georgia State
Bass has started 22 consecutive games for the Panthers over the last two seasons, and he will likely retain his starting spot at right tackle in 2022.
K Christian Lowery (So.), Harrison, Cincinnati
Lowery appeared in five games for the Bearcats last season, making all 20 of his extra-point attempts and two of his four field-goal attempts.
DE Myles Murphy (Jr.), Hillgrove, Clemson
Murphy earned a second-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection for his efforts last season, posting 43 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Now, in his third collegiate season, Murphy will be one of the leaders for the Clemson defense in 2022 as the team looks to regain control of the ACC.
DE Kwabena Bonsu (Sr.), South Cobb, Army
Bonsu has appeared in 39 games for Army over the course of four seasons, making 82 total tackles, including 10.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks. Bonsu will continue to be a key piece on the Army defensive line in his fifth year with the team.
EDGE BJ Ojulari (Jr.), Marietta, LSU
Ojulari took a step forward in his sophomore year, making 55 total tackles, including 11.5 for loss and adding a team-high seven sacks. He will enter the 2022 season as LSU’s top pass-rusher, and another productive season could mean entering the 2023 NFL draft.
DT Kevin Hester (Jr.), North Cobb, North Carolina
Hester has been a rotational piece on the North Carolina defensive line for the past two seasons, appearing in 23 games. In 2021, he posted 20 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss as well as 1.5 sacks.
DT Jamil Burroughs (Jr.), McEachern, Alabama
Burroughs appeared in three games last season for the Crimson Tide, but after the departures of fellow defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis, he looks primed for a larger role in 2022. Burroughs had a strong performance at Alabama’s spring game, posting two sacks while playing with the first team defense.
LB Solon Page III (R-Sr.), Kell, Tennessee
Page earned a much larger role in the Tennessee defense last season after seeing very little playing time in his first four years with the program. In 2021, he made 38 tackles and earned the first three starts of his collegiate career. Returning for a sixth season in 2022, Page will look to build on his 2021 performance.
LB Rett Russell (Grad.), Allatoona, The Citadel
Russell transferred to The Citadel in February after spending four seasons at Wofford. Russell appeared in 11 games in 2021, posting 21 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss and one sack. He will look to carve out a role for himself at his new school this season.
LB Michael Fairbanks (R-Jr.), McEachern, UAB
Fairbanks has contributed for the Blazers on defense and special teams throughout his career, appearing in 37 games. In 2021, he had a career high 25 tackles, four quarterback hits, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
CB Chu Ogbonna (R-Sr.), Wheeler, Akron
Ogbonna appeared in nine games for Akron in 2021, starting three. A strong summer could see him starting at one of the cornerback spots for the Zips to open the 2022 season.
CB Valerian Agbaw (R-So.), McEachern, Charlotte
Agbaw transferred from Kansas to Charlotte last summer, and he appeared in six games for the 49ers in 2021. With another offseason in the program, Agbaw could see an increased role this season.
S Rashad Torrence (So.), Marietta, Florida
Torrence started all 13 games at safety for the Gators in 2021 and produced, posting 87 total tackles with three interceptions and five pass breakups as well. Torrence will remain a key piece of the Florida secondary in 2022.
S Jaylen McCollough (Sr.), Hillgrove, Tennessee
McCollough has carved out a valuable role in the Tennessee defense and had his best collegiate season in 2021, making 49 tackles while intercepting three passes. Entering his senior season, McCollough is poised to be one of the leaders for the Volunteers’ defense.
P Jason Pierce (Sr.), Hillgrove, Chattanooga
Pierce punted 13 times in three appearances for Chattanooga last season, averaging 42.7 yards per punt.
KR James Ziglor III (So.), Harrison, Vanderbilt
Ziglor returned 11 kickoffs for 186 yards in 2021, and he should be in the mix to retain the kickoff returner position for the Commodores in 2022.
PR Dominick Blaylock (Jr.), Walton, Georgia
Blaylock returned to Georgia’s lineup last season against Charleston Southern, and returned two punts for 10 yards. He has a history of returning punts, having returned 14 for 128 yards as a freshman in 2019.