Well, about the last place you expect to see a freshman play is along an offensive front. That may have been the case in bygone years, but that just isn’t the case now. Freshman bigs are coming out of middle school possessing more physical prowess and playing technique that at any other time in Kentucky High School football history. The development of middle school football, and all the opportunities the middle schoolers have on the combine circuit and playing for different Teams Kentucky, have given young bigs both skills and opportunities to come onto the scene ready to go. Such is the case for this year’s freshman linemen who may comprise the deepest and richest vein of talent in the Kentucky prospect class of 2022. We looked for kids upfront who could play with their hips sunk and work over defenders firing low to high. We wanted kids with explosion both in get off and hand punch, quick-twitch guys who drove first level defenders into the second and third levels of the defense and the mobility to pull, trap, and climb to quicker 2nd, and even 3rd, level guys and cover them up, as it is commonly referenced. We wanted guys who could kick back in pass protection and vertically set, remaining over their heels with the punch and extension to displace defensive rush guys. This is a fine group here and we are proud to present the Kentucky, Freshman, All-State offensive line.
OT-Grant Bingham, 6-4, 260 pounds, Johnson Central…At KPGFootball we love offensive linemen who have some basketball experience. It helps develop an offensive lineman’s feet and wind. Grant Bingham has tremendous feet and is in tremendous shape which translated into Johnson Central starting him all year long along its offensive front at RT. Well, having to start and play a freshman along the offensive front means the Eagles must have really struggled this year. Not so! The Eagles ran from scrimmage 578 times, gaining 5,393 yards and scored 78 rushing TDs as a team in route to finishing 13-2 and losing the State Championship game to Franklin-Simpson, 14-12. I have heard football coaches claim every freshman or sophomore you have in your starting lineup in high school will net you a loss. As you can tell from this and other features, that just isn’t even remotely true. Between Bingham and LeMaster going forward, it doesn’t look as though Johnson Central is going to struggle running the football anytime soon.
OG-Owen LeMaster, 6-0, 245 pounds, Johnson Central…When you read our below evaluation of Landon Nokes, you will discover we believe Nokes to be among the top interior offensive linemen in Kentucky’s class of 2022. Well, LeMaster may be the very top interior up-front guy in the Class of 2022. Now similar to Bingham, LeMaster received lots of reps upfront for the Eagles as a freshman. Unlike right tackle, where you can hide inexperience a little better especially if the QB is right-handed, teams just can’t afford to make a mistake up the middle of its O-line. That is why freshmen playing there may even be more impressive than a freshman holding down right tackle. LeMaster was in the rotation (team’s top 8 offensive linemen), though a freshman, for four-time state finalist Johnson Central. LeMaster’s having this type immediate success was certainly foreseeable. Owen, a four-year starter for Team Kentucky in the FBU National Tournament, a two-year member of Team Kentucky Future Stars, and a key cog on the Johnson County 2017 Middle School State Championship Team, came right in this year and contributed on offense, defense, and special teams for Class 4A, runner-up, Johnson Central. While playing the majority of his varsity reps at right guard on offense, LeMaster also logged some snaps at defensive tackle. He could have made this team at either spot, but we couldn’t see not putting our top-rated guard, in his class, along the offensive front on this All-State team.
OG-Landon Nokes, 6-2, 250 pounds, Louisville Eastern…We have written about Landon Notes before on this very site. Landon attends Eastern High School in Louisville, Kentucky, which plays Class 6A football, but has the dubious honor of being in the same district as 6A powers, Trinity and Ballard. Not an easy league to break into the starting lineup as a freshman. That is why Landon’s gaining some Varsity run at the very end of the season is still noteworthy notwithstanding his spending most of the year watching on Friday nights. One this is sure, Landon won’t be watching on Friday nights his sophomore season as he is slated to go straight into the starting lineup. Landon is one of the most physically imposing young men on this team and he has been accused of possessing the steely glare of a grown man. How good is he as a college prospect? Well, he’s already being checked out by FBS, power 5 schools like the University of Louisville. KPGFootball has rated Landon one of the Class of 2022’s top ranked interior offensive lineman. There are tons of schools where Landon wouldn’t have left the field this past season, freshman or no freshman.
OT-Kiyaunta Goodwin, 6-8, 335 pounds, Holy Cross (Lou.)…At KPGFootball, we felt like we were watching the NFL draft when the Class of 2022 phenom, Kiyaunta Goodwin, was formally announcing where he would play in high school. Was he going to Louisville Trinity, St. Xavier, St. Francis DeSales, Louisville Male, which traditional power would get the services of the Country’s top rated offensive tackle in the Class of 2022? Are there any other 9th grade tackles in the America sporting offers from the likes of Georgia, LSU, Alabama, Tennessee, University of Louisville, Syracuse, Cincinnati, and WKU? We didn’t think so.
We were a bit surprised when Goodwin announced he would attend Coach Bob Bronger‘s Class 1A, district 3, Holy Cross High School (Cougars). It reminded me of a story I heard once about what the late, famous, and exceedingly quotable, Coach Bum Phillips said the day the Houston Oilers drafted Earl Campbell first overall (out of the University of Texas) in the 1978 NFL draft. As the story goes, Coach Phillips was asked how soon he thought the running back would be ready to contribute to the Oilers. Legend has it, Phillips answered, I would expect day one. Earl Campbell had an immediate impact, in deed, as he went on to earn NFL Rookie of the Year honors and was named the NFL’s Outstanding Offensive Player in each of his first three seasons. Goodwin had an immediate impact for Holy Cross too as he both started and played in all 10 of Holy Cross’ games. Holy Cross went 6-6 in 2017 and managed only a 4-6 mark in 2018, missing the playoffs which isn’t easy to do in Kentucky. Regardless, with Kiyaunta around, the prospects surrounding the Holy Cross program are certainly rosy.
OT-Anthony Johns, 6-2, 240 pounds, Lexington Christian…Anthony Johns is a member of an elite cadre of freshman who played all year for a Lexington Christian Academy ball club which lost a ton of players from off its 2017 squad leaving many pundits, around Kentucky, with the impression Lexington Christian Academy wouldn’t be very good in 2018. You can exclude KPGFootball from the list of pundits predicting the down fall of LCA. We had them No. 3 in our way too early preseason poll. Anthony Johns started his first snap of Varsity football he ever played. There are very few freshmen around Kentucky who can honestly say that, though many on this particular All-State team may be able to make such a claim.
With Johns upfront LCA not only finished 9-4, and advance to play Somerset, at Somerset, for the Regional Championship; they were at Somerset’s one yard line when the game ended trailing 35-31. One yard away from a Semi-state birth. One yard away from making us completely prophetic. Not too bad for a varsity roster containing 25 freshmen and 15 sophomores.
Of course these weren’t just ordinary freshmen. Johns and the other frosh on our Freshman All-State Football team from LCA had won a State Middle School Football Championship in 2017. KPGFootball remembers meeting Anthony Johns at a Future Stars Alumni Combine in New Albany, Indiana. Both his father and he were confident he would be in the starting line-up from jump street. We thought they were both crazy. After all, LCA isn’t the type of program where freshmen plug into the starting line-up, right? This frosh really thinks he will start, and at left tackle? No way! Well, we were dead wrong! Freshman, Anthony Johns started all season long, from his first snap, at left tackle and was playing both ways by year’s end. Johns is a freakishly strong young big who will only get bigger and stronger. His aggressiveness is both nasty and off the charts. This is name you will be hearing for many years to come around Kentucky.
OT-Matthew Mauzy, 6-2, 270 pounds, Christian Academy-Louisville…Christian Academy-Louisville just polished off a 15-0 record on its way to the Class 2A, State Football Championship. They won the title in 2016, lost in the Semis to Mayfield in 2017, then beat Mayfield in 2018 in a game which was 34-26 on the scoreboard but felt like an even larger margin than that for those of us covering the game. Now everyone is generally talking about John Young when discussing Tackles at Christian Academy-Louisville and rightfully as Young, who was on our sophomore team last season, is consistently listed among the Class of 2020’s top college prospects. The guy who kept getting mistaken for John Young every time he entered the game, because he was a tackle who just looked like he should be one of 2020’s top prospects was freshman, Matthew Mauzy. Mauzy played in 10 of the fifteen games played by CAL. Mauzy played on the Team Kentucky Future Stars team with both LeMaster and Johns this past summer and has a frame which will both thicken and lengthen as he goes along. Mauzy has excellent balance, quick feet, dynamic hand punch and a low and hard get-off. You just don’t see freshmen linemen like this come along very often.
Well, that is the defense of our selections along our offensive line for the Class of 2022. KPGFootball is quite sure these may not be the best six offensive linemen in Kentucky’s Class of 2022 but we are equally sure these six are definitely among them. All of these players have distinguished themselves both on the field of play and in the class room. It will be fun to follow these guys as they continue to develop and play football next Fall. You will continue to hear plenty from these six players in 2019 and beyond.
Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long reminding all of the ballers out there that #WeGotUCovered and to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE.
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