Viva Loudoun college intern Joe Bushrod a graduate of Loudoun County High School and current student at Old Dominion University, has been scouting the returning Loudoun football players and will offer his top 5 at each position.
Previously Joe covered the Top 5 quarterbacks and today he starts on the offensive line with his Top 5 Centers/Guards and the No. 1 returning player at this position is Connor Smith of Stone Bridge.
1. C Connor Smith (SR) Stone Bridge 6’ 230
Connor Smith, named first team all-state center last year as a junior, stands out to me as such a terrific player who rarely gets enough praise. Smith’s importance to the Stone Bridge offense is immeasurable as each snap starts in his hands. Beginning his career as a linebacker, Smith was randomly asked by the coaching staff to display several different snapping techniques and from that point he has played his way into arguably the best center to ever play for the Bulldogs. Thanks to Smith the Bulldogs the past two years have effectively run their misdirection offense that requires precise snaps in numerous areas to a selection of players. This single wing offense can’t be performed unless you have a talented center, and that is exactly what Bulldog head coach Mickey Thompson has in Connor Smith.
2.G Jared Coker (SR) Briar Woods 6’4” 285
Jared Coker, a Bowling Green commit, is the definition of a mauler, a bruiser, a headhunter … I think you get the point. This kid plays with a passion that is unmatched by any linemen in the area. When Coker straps up his helmet, he is only looking to knock off his opponent’s. Defenses are in for a long day when they step into the box versus this powerful guard. Coker packs quite a punch with each blow on every play. As a three time state champion for the Falcons, count on Coker to deliver another high caliber season in Brambleton.
3. G Mike Hickey (SR) Stone Bridge 6’3” 265
The No. 3 prospect on our guard’s list and the fourth prospect from the powerhouse known as Stone Bridge, is guard Mike Hickey. Bulldog coach Mickey Thompson described Mike Hickey as his best drive blocker. The most consistent part of his game has to be his consistent ability to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Equipped with such a powerful punch, Hickey often blows up the chest of his opponent before beginning to drive him back. For such a powerful lineman, Hickey remains fundamentally sound and plays with a great center of gravity. This allows him to reach the linebackers quickly and in an efficient manner.
4. G Yazeed Atariwa (SR) Dominion 6’5” 255
Yazeed Atariwa wins the award for the most athletic interior offensive lineman in the area. At the high school level, Atariwa is a nightmare for opposing defensive tackles. At 6-foot-5 you will rarely find a player at defensive tackle that can rival Atariwa due to his tremendous length and strength. When it comes to the offensive line, I believe that he transitions into college best as a right tackle opposed to a guard. This tremendous athlete can also be a killer on the defensive line. Once he arrives on a campus to play ball, he will easily be able to add 15-30 pounds and really begin to reach his potential.
5. C Chase Smith (SR) Woodgrove 6’3” 275
Rounding out my top 5 list for interior offensive Linemen is Woodgrove’s best offensive lineman, Chase Smith. If you look up and don’t find Smith floating around the line of scrimmage, you can probably find him driving opponents 10 yards downfield. The center position is often the weakest point on a high school offensive line but at Woodgrove, the center position is the strongest. I label Smith as a relentless and powerful pancake machine. Although he may not be the fastest, he has strong hands that he uses to lock in and block through the whistle.
Others to Watch:
*Brent Smith Heritage (Soph) 6’4 210
*Caleb Trump Loudoun Valley (Sr.) 6’1 255
*Jack Corso Tuscarora (Jr.) 6’4 230