High School

7 DMV running backs primed for breakout seasons in 2020

7 DMV running backs primed for breakout seasons in 2020

Last season could be categorized as the “year of the running back” in DMV high school football. Blake Corum, Antwain Littleton and MarShawn Lloyd made the national news, while Marquez Cooper rewrote the record books. Pound for pound, running back was one of the most talent-rich positions in the region.

Many of last season’s top performers are graduating, thereby opening the door for a new wave of big-time student athletes. Here are 7 young men primed for breakout campaigns in 2020.

1. Jeremiah White | Quince Orchard     

Class: 2021

For years now, the name Marquez Cooper has been synonymous with the Quince Orchard Cougars, and for good reason. The diminutive running back powered his team to a state championship and himself into the Montgomery County all-time record books.

Coop has now graduated and the keys to the Cougars’ dominant rushing attack will be handed over to the aptly prepared Jeremiah White.

Two seasons ago, White split time with Cooper as the duo formed a dynamic 1-2 punch. During his junior year, White started at linebacker and finished the season as the Cougars’ second-leading tackler.

White has been biding his time for this opportunity. With blazing speed and big play capabilities, anticipate this Cougar to have a breakout year.

2. Elijah Solomon | Archbishop Carroll

Class: 2022

Elijah Solomon helped the Archbishop Carroll Lions “restore the roar” in 2019 as the sophomore back rushed for 1,126 yards in his first season in Carroll green.

Solomon splits carries with senior Lorenzo Green last season -- otherwise, what was already a productive season, may have reached epic proportions. What Solomon lacks in size, he more than makes up for in vision, balance and toughness. Expect fireworks in his junior campaign.

3. Sean Aaron | Good Counsel

Class: 2021

In 2019, Good Counsel paraded what was arguably the most potent rushing attack in the DMV. Opposing defenses knew what was coming but due to the Falcons’ execution, they could not stop it.

Sy’Veon Wilkerson was magical. The shifty back carried GC all the way to a WCAC championship. Wilkerson will be suiting up next season for Delaware St.

Enter Sean Aaron. Aaron flashed brilliance in 2019, often coming up big in the biggest of games. Sans Wilkerson, the Falcons will bring back a majority of their starting offense, including quarterback Chase Williams and a potentially unassailable offensive line, led by 5-star stalwart Landon Tengwall.

Aaron’s size, low center of gravity and propensity to break off big runs could give WCAC defensive coordinators nightmares in 2020.

4. Charlie Miska | South County

Class: 2021

Charlie Miska did a little bit of everything for the state champion Stallions. Beyond running back, he also lined up as a Wildcat QB, slot receiver and special teams contributor.

Miska runs with power and has deceptive speed. With the graduation of seniors Matthew Dzierski and Zion Dayne, expect the ball to be in Miska’s hands even more in 2020.

5. Sieh Bangura | DeMatha

Class: 2021

Bangura is an explosive, long-striding Stag equally adept at running between the tackles or getting to the edge for big gains. Bangura is a one-cut runner with excellent vision. He has an uncanny ability to change direction on a dime and is proficient at making would-be tacklers miss in space.

In 2019, Bangura split time with 5-star running back, Marshawn Lynch. Anticipate a breakout year from Bangura in 2020.

6. Aaron Jones | Walter Johnson

Class: 2021

Aaron Jones ran for 1,245 yards and 16 touchdowns in leading Walter Johnson to their best season in many years.

Jones displays physicality at the point of contact while maintaining the requisite speed to score from anywhere on the field.

In 2020, look for Jones to challenge for the rushing title in Montgomery county.

7. Jaquan Blake | Friendship

Class: 2021

Jaquan “Country” Blake is an old-school running back. With his low center of gravity, Blake runs with bad intentions. He plays behind his pads, allowing him to routinely run through would-be tacklers. Though he excels in short-yardage situations, he is capable of picking up large chunks of yardage at a time.

In 2019, Kevon Campbell was the bell cow back for Friendship. In 2020, Blake will shoulder those responsibilities. With the graduation of quarterback Dyson Smith, the defending DCSAA champion Knights will lean on their rushing attack -- Blake is ready to carry the load.

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MORE HIGH SCHOOL NEWS:

How one Archbishop Carroll football player built a home gym

How one Archbishop Carroll football player built a home gym

Archbishop Carroll's Elijah Solomon joined NBC Sports Washington's Chad Ricardo and shared how he's getting his workout in at a time when going to the gym or school is not an available option. 

"I kind of came up with my own workout regimen," he said. 

First, he used weight sets that he had. And, due to some recent construction, his parents had been doing in their home, he was able to repurpose materials including buckets which he filled with water and PVC pipes to create his own curl-up bar and squat racks.

As Ricardo says in the video above, with creativity like that, who really needs a gym?

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These are the top 10 high school defensive backs in the DMV

These are the top 10 high school defensive backs in the DMV

In today’s game, high-powered offenses are king. Long gone are the days of wishbone formations, triple-option quarterbacks and play-calling strategies centered around “three yards and a cloud of dust.”

In 2020, spread sets are the norm and offenses are designed to put up points in a hurry. For defenses to be successful at slowing them down, they need skilled and versatile defenders in the secondary who can stop the pass and help slow the run game. Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia are home to some of the best in the country.

Here are my Top 10 defensive backs in the DMV.

Ryan “Bo” Barnes | Quince Orchard (MD)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 180 lbs

Class: 2021

Offers: 35

Ryan Barnes is a ball-hawking DB with next level length and a knack for making big plays. At 6-foot-2, Barnes is a big corner who blankets his opposition. He uses his long arms and stride to aide in recovering, and once he gets his hands on the ball he is a threat to score.

Though slight of frame, Barnes is a physical, sure tackler who effectively sets the edge against the run.

Antoine Booth | DeMatha (MD)

Cornerback: 6’0”, 190 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Michigan State

Antoine Booth often accepts the challenge of lining up against the opposition’s No. 1 receiver -- he does not back down. In fact, he raises his game to that of his competition. He plays the game with a moxie and bravado that will serve him well this season and moving forward.

Booth does a stellar job reading and reacting. He keeps his eyes in the backfield, plants his back foot and jumps routes, often leading to pass breakups and interceptions.

Jalen Clyatt | Sherwood (MD)

Safety: 6’4”, 200 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: East Carolina

Jalen Clyatt has tremendous size and length. As a long strider, he covers a lot of ground in little time.

Clyatt manages the middle of the field. His range allows him to cover from sideline-to-sideline, and his ball skills make him a threat to intercept passes that sail over the middle.

Cam Johnson | St. Frances (MD)

Cornerback: 6’0”, 170 lbs

Class: 2022

Offers: 13

Cam Johnson has excellent technique. His hips are fluid, his backpedal is smooth and he changes direction effortlessly, which allows him to be successful in man coverage even when playing on an island.

At 6-feet tall, Johnson has nice length and a frame that he will grow into. The rising junior has legitimate “lockdown corner” potential.

Jalen “Buck” McCain | Flowers (MD)

Defensive Back: 6’0, 190

Class: 2021

Committed: Boston College

Jalen McCain is a versatile defensive back capable of making plays from all over the field. He can line up as a boundary-corner or in the slot versus spread offenses, as he displays proficiency in both zone and man coverage.

McCain is a skilled blitzer, has the speed and field awareness to defend in two-deep looks and thrives as a box safety, where his physicality and tackling abilities are on full display.

Will Simpkins III | Quince Orchard (MD)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 180 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: University of Virginia

Simpkins has a Div.-I body type and he uses it to his advantage. He’s physical at the line of scrimmage and excels at redirecting receivers, making it difficult for them to get into their routes.

His hand-fighting techniques are superb. He has loose hips and solid ball skills. Simpkins is capable of taking away an entire side of the field.

Jalen Stroman | Patriot (VA)

Safety: 6’1”, 195 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Virgina Tech

Jalen Stroman is developing into a special student athlete. He’s a big hitter who is most effective coming down hill and attacking. When defending the run, he’s equally adequate at filling the hole as he is setting the edge.

In pass coverage, Stroman displays an ability to undercut routes and break on the ball. He also displays the range to play deep centerfield.

Joshua Thompson | St. John’s (DC)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 190 lbs

Class: 2022

Offers: 8

Joshua Thompson thrives in press coverage. He has the physicality to manhandle receivers at the line, and the length to recover and make plays on the ball.

As a rising junior, his stock is on the rise. Thompson should develop into a 25-plus offer student athlete.

Dante Trader | McDonogh (MD)

Safety: 6’0”, 185 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Maryland

Dante Trader is a natural center-fielder who displays excellent range and ball skills. His footwork and technique allow him to cover ground efficiently. He’s a sound tackler who consistently finds himself around the ball.

What he lacks in size, he makes up for in instincts. Trader does an excellent job of diagnosing plays; seeing what’s in front of him and flowing accordingly.

Zakee Wheatley | Archbishop Spalding (MD)

Safety: 6’3”, 190 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Penn State

Zakee Wheatley is a big time student athlete who makes plays all over the field. He has the coverage skills to line up on the outside, as well as the size and physicality to run with tight ends down the seam.

Wheatley is a heavy hitter who provides support against the run and routinely uses his force to separate man from ball.