KPGFootball’s Top 17 rising Freshman Footballers…

Well, as the season approaches we have been breaking down the top players in the rising respective classes. We have broken down 2023 in a two part series and today, aiming to be a bit more ambitious, we have elected to detail whom we believe to be the top 17 entering freshmen in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Who knows, at the end of the article we may note some additional super-star frosh? I want to mention first and foremost that we considered very favorably kids who have tried out and played for one of the three Team Kentuckys (East vs. West, FBU, and Future Stars). There is a reason for that. The reason is these kids have shown the moxie to present at a Team Kentucky combine and match their skills up against the best the Commonwealth has. If your player is omitted and tore up his conference or district, he had all summer long to attend a Team Kentucky combine and show everybody what’s what. These players have all put themselves out there on the combine and All-Star circuit and have proven it, and for now, they are deserving of this recognition. If you missed this list, you have four years upcoming to show KPGFootball we were wrong about your omission. We will be happy to correct the error going forward. KPGFootball believes these are the best incoming freshmen football players…

1. Louisville’s Kiyaunta Goodwin, OT, 6-8, 370 pounds;

This was a harder call than some of you readers will believe. At KPGFootball we don’t rank prospects, we rank football players. There are prospects in Kentucky, right now, and they know who they are, holding offers because of being blessed with incredible frames. These same players struggle to get on the field for the high school varsity, because they aren’t very good players, but they are pretty getting off the bus. Frame is something with which one is born, not something one has developed through anything over which he had any control. Two years ago, in the Tennessee-Kentucky Future Stars game, I watched Kiyaunta get abused by Tennessee’s Malachi Harrison from Knoxville. Harrison, an All-American in his own right, certainly wasn’t a dog, but Goodwin couldn’t get a hand on him coming around end and Harrison was awarded Defensive MVP of the ball game, a ball game Tennessee won. However, it isn’t uncommon for kids Goodwin’s age and size to struggle with their coordination catching up to their size. Goodwin, as his trainer Chris Vaughn would gladly attest, works tirelessly, and as hard as any player on this list, at becoming a real football player. In the end, our ranking of Goodwin at the top spot has nothing to do with Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and LSU all offering the incoming 9th grader. Their offers have nothing to do with his play and everything to do with his frame. We have given him the top spot because of his work ethic and commitment to improvement.

Calling Kiyaunta Goodwin merely a rising freshman lineman is similar to calling Earl Campbell merely a running back. I suppose it is technically the case, but neither of the extraordinary football players can be fairly described as merely anything. Goodwin is 6-8 and weighs 370 pounds presently but is expected to play this Fall in the neighborhood of 330 pounds according to his trainer, Chris Vaughn, whom we were able to reach and interview in connection with publishing an earlier article we published featuring this particular player. Chris owns and operates the Aspirations Fitness Institute which has become the facility, training all of the top Kentucky athletes in the Louisville, Kentucky area. For example, though only just having left the 8th grade, Goodwin, who has incredibly long arms, is maxing in the neighborhood of 335 pounds on the bench press and has leg pressed 1,220 pounds. In an era when most young men Goodwin’s size are fat, uncoordinated, and doughy, with barely enough core strength to bend over and tie their own shoes, Goodwin is none of those things. He is athletic, strong, and built like an athlete much older than his tender years. There is no doubt Goodwin goes into the Holy Cross lineup, a team coming off a 6-6 season, on day one. If there was a day zero he would be in the lineup that day too.

2. Pikeville’s Issac McNamee, QB,  6-3, 210 pounds;

When I say Isaac McNamee is a specimen, what I mean to say is I would draw him if you asked me to draw a high school, or even college, division 1 quarterback. The son of a football coach and former college All-American at EKU, McNamee is 6-3 inches tall and already weighs 210 pounds. At our June, All-State Mountain Combine, Isaac clocked a 4.98 40 yard dash time, ran the pro-agility shuttle in 4.5, the L-Cone drill in 7.6, and repped the middle school rep weight of 115 pounds on the bench press 15 times. That’s natural strength too, as middle school kids rarely, if ever, lift. According to the bench press, one-rep maximum, online calculator that would put his approximate bench press max at 170 or so pounds right now. Check that number in 6 months or so. I first wrote about the former Kentucky Future Star way back in June of 2017 in an article I have linked here for your convenience. I thought he was the top pro-style QB at that time and I haven’t seen anything to convince me otherwise in all the time since.

Now McNamee skipped Future Stars this year in order to compete in Coach David Cutcliffe’s QB Academy at Duke University which occurred at, roughly, the same time. McNamee drops, sets up, and delivers the ball from the perfect release point and quickly with tremendous zip. He is accurate with his throws and reads through his progressions like a much older quarterback. In watching him during the seven on seven portion of the Mountain Combine I remarked to our Executive Director, Phelps High School’s, Dave Jones, that it was apparent to me the kid had been really well coached. This kid starts, day one as a freshman, at 90% of the high schools in Kentucky. Were he starting at Pikeville High School, I would still have them at the top of the 1A Classification. He’s just that good. Oh yeah, before I forget, we selected him the top QB at the Mountain All-State Combine and he’s the top QB in Kentucky’s class of 2022.

3. Louisville’s Brandon Dobbs, DE, 6-3, 250 pounds;

Brandon Dobbs may be the best reason for the need for an online magazine like Kentucky Prep Gridiron I could ever hope to give. This kid can play. What I mean by he can play is he is easily the top defensive end anywhere in the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s 2022 class. I tell you how good he is; he is slated to attend Louisville Male, which typically doesn’t play freshman, and they have listed him on its 2018 varsity roster. Dobbs‘ listed positions are nose, defensive tackle, and defensive end. At this summer’s Tennessee-Kentucky Future Stars Classic, I mostly saw him deployed along the interior as opposed to at end. I would say he played anywhere from a one to three technique from where I was sitting. What I can tell is that he was completely unblock-able and, between Belfry’s Jacoby Thornsbury and him, Tennessee was effectively dissuaded from trying the middle all day long. Dobbs reminds me of a player from Anderson County, who was a freshman All-Stater last year, named Darion Dearinger, and that is heady praise indeed. Remember the name as when we publish our 2021 list, you will most likely see it.

Dobbs trains with Chris Vaughn with Aspirations Fitness Institute in Louisville. Brendon is active with his hands and is excellent moving his feet and gaining both separation and penetration into the backfield causing all kinds of havoc. Brandon has a low get-off  and a quick burst at the snap making him in the OL’s face before the lineman even has a chance to fire off. Once Brandon gets his hands on a lineman, he can either shed, club, rip, or swim his way to making backfield tackles. I can tell you this, Brandon has won the Defensive MVP in almost everything in which he has ever competed on a football field. This past summer for Kentucky Future Stars, though Dobbs wasn’t awarded the Defensive MVP for Team Kentucky, he managed 12 tackles, 3 sacks, and a forced fumble. KPGFootball, as we covered the game, thought Dobbs should have either been awarded the distinction or, at the very least, shared in the award.

4. Louisville’s Vinny Anthony Jr., WR, 5-11 and 155 pounds;

I have before waxed eloquently about Kentucky Future Stars’ Director, Ricco Hughes, when it comes to evaluating football talent. It is the keenest eye in Kentucky in my opinion, and I believe to be in possession of a pretty keen eye myself. Simply put, I haven’t seen a Future Star selected by Hughes yet who didn’t round into a present star. So you can imagine how quickly I started investigating a player when, out of the blue, and without any solicitation from me, I got a text message from Director Hughes which read gotta a kid you need to write about named Vinny Anthony, bad dude!!! I am not used to Ricco so vigorously advocating a prospect like that. Yeah, I have gotten a few the kid’s a player, or he’s pretty good, but bad dude!!!? Is he really worth three exclamations? After having seen him all summer, he’s probably worth four. Here is what jumped out at me…Vinny is a player with really good size, 5-11 and 155 pounds and growing, and the speed to gain separation once he hits the defensive back four. Vinny recently attended the FBU Regional Camp in Nashville, Tennessee where he scored an invite to Top Gun, after running a FAT (fully automated timed) 4.7 second forty yard dash. A fully automated 4.7 flat is really fast. That would probably make his hand-timed 40 yard dash in the high 4.5s to low 4.6s. Vinny has played a lot of big time football. In seventh grade, he played for Team Kentucky Future Stars and played on the prestigious Team Kentucky FBU, both as a seventh grader and eighth grader. KPGFootball believes Vinny, a.k.a. Vincel Jr., to be Kentucky’s top WR prospect, in the Class of 2022. He will attend school at Louisville Male and like we said above in the segment about Brandon Hobbs, Male is a program which claims to not play freshmen. He won’t break the varsity lineup as fast as Hobbs, but he will play on Friday nights.

5. Paintsville’s Owen LeMaster, OG, 6-0 and 240 pounds;

I can give you four words for why Johnson County Middle School bullied its way to to a State Championship last season and why the football fortunes at Johnson Central High School are always so rosy. Players like Owen LeMaster. LeMaster played on both sides of the ball, at offensive guard and defensive tackle, for JCMS. However, we here at KPG Football believe he will play at offensive guard for the Eagles. LeMaster, at 6-0 and 240 pounds, is, along with Jacoby Thornsbury, one of the more decorated football players on the Kentucky’s class of 2022 roster. Owen is a Diamond Sports and a National Undergraduate Combine All-American to go along with numerous appearances on Team Kentucky’s FBU team and Team Kentucky Future Stars. Now Owen plays for one of the premier, if not the premier, program in Kentucky’s 4A classification right now in Johnson Central. I have them preseason ranked number 2 and their being ranked behind Hopkinsville High School may be the result of my being a big, ole, homer. The boys from Johnson County are loaded. If there is one place you would expect it to be hard to get playing time for a program like that it would be along the line of scrimmage. If Owen LeMaster were a run of the mill, rising 9th grader, he chances of playing would be bleak, if not zero. This summer, at the Team Kentucky Future Stars’ camp, LeMaster was described to me as looking like a grown man practicing with boys and that is why he will play. He isn’t the run of the mill rising 9th grader. Owen LeMaster is 2022’s William Long, with a bench press at 250 pounds, plus, right now and a back squat over 405 pounds. William Long got on the field for Hopkinsville High School because of his Herculean strength. LeMaster shares in that particular attribute and it will get him on the field on Friday nights sometime during the upcoming season. LeMaster will be awarded a letter by year’s end and is Kentucky’s No. 1 Guard in 2022.

6. Belfry’s Jacoby Thornsbury, DT/NG, 5-10 and 280 pounds;

Thornsbury is from Belfry, Kentucky and is 5-10 inches tall and weighs in at a robust, but powerful, 280 pounds. He played in an All-American game just this summer. In that game, his stat line was 16 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 pass deflections, 1 fumble recovery, and 3 forced fumbles. He was even lined up some as a lead blocker out of the backfield. This game must have been sponsored by Bayer aspirin. I know some interior offensive linemen who will be searching the medicine cabinet for some this morning. Less than a year ago, one of the premier publications covering middle school and youth football nationally, Youth1 published an article on Jacoby. The article has been, for your ease and convenience, linked here. In the article, Youth1 called Thornsbury…a versatile talented football player…[whose] main position is defensive lineman, but he can also contribute as an offensive lineman at the tackle position. The article correctly noted his being a 2X Diamond All-American and a 2X FBU Top Gun selection who also was chosen and participated in the Legends All-American Game and the DMAXX All-American Game. Needless to say, Jacoby Thornsbury will enter camp this summer one of the more decorated middle school players to come through the commonwealth of Kentucky. That is not to say he doesn’t have anywhere for his game to improve, but anywhere his game may be deficient (like for instance, he isn’t the fastest D-lineman, top-end, I have ever seen), that deficiency is attributable to his being young and will be shortly remedied as he grows, matures, and weight trains as a part of the high school program. Thornsbury would start, day one, for a lot of high schools but he doesn’t attend a lot of high schools, he attends Belfry High School, which is well-stocked on both sides of the line of scrimmage. I don’t care what Belfry has along its lines of scrimmage (which I happen to know is a lot), this kid will play and start by year’s end along the defensive front, probably at nose.

7. Louisville’s Landon Nokes, OG, 6-2 and 244 pounds;

When you stare into the eyes of Louisville’s Landon Nokes you seem to get the distinct impression he doesn’t much care for you. Some people just have the look of serious business. Couple that with the fact the 6-2 inch 244 pound, 2022 prospect is already being checked out by FBS, power 5 schools like the University of Louisville, and it begins to make one a little uncomfortable resting under that seemingly disdainful glare. It might make one a little uneasy. That is probably a good thing. One might do well to tread carefully around on of the Class of 2022’s top ranked interior offensive lineman. If you didn’t know better, you would swear he is a full grown man. He’s certainly built like one. Landon just exhausted his eligibility at the middle school which feeds the Class 6A, District 4 high school in the heart of Louisville, Kentucky’s Midtown neighborhood. Eastern has some 2,000 or so enrolled students so there usually is plenty of talent roaming the hallways and enrolling in the freshman class each year.

Nokes is a 2X member of Team Kentucky Future Stars, has played for the Team Kentucky FBU squad, and has played in the East-West Kentucky All-State game. In other words, Nokes has donned the uniform of every Team Kentucky in existence. Like I said in the Vincel Anthony Jr.’s paragraph, it is interesting to note that Eastern High School has already listed him on the varsity roster on MaxPreps. Guess there is no need in hiding it…he’s headed straight to Friday Nights. Landon Nokes is the ideal middleman because he is athletic, has the speed to get outside on pulls, the strength to grapple with enormous defenders, and the niftiness to throw numerous blocks on the same play. Nokes has really good hands and quickly transitions his hands from snapping the ball to bull-rushing linemen stationed over top of him. Nokes is also smart and able to quickly gain command of the offensive install. Nokes is equally adept at creating holes for the running game as he is at insuring the QB has adequate time to get off his passes downfield. In short, Landon Nokes is serious business as his playing career, thus far, has demonstrated he is serious about the business of playing football.

8. Louisville’s Dedrick D-Shock Hamilton, WR, 5-8 and 155 pounds;

We have had speed in the Tennessee-Kentucky Future Stars Classic before this year, let me assure you. Three years ago, Tennessee boasted a kid, in the 7th grade, who ran a 4.5 second, 40 yard dash. Before everyone calls BS on that time, the kid was the National AAU Track Champion in the 100 meters that same year. I am unsure of his 100 meter time when he was in 7th grade, but his 100 meter, FAT (fully automated time), was 10.4 seconds his 8th grade year. He registered that time in an official track meet at Tom Black Track on the campus of the University of Tennessee. His name is Elijah Howard and he won Offensive MVP for Tennessee that day in a game Tennessee won 32-0. There is a standard, industry recognized, difference between an athlete’s FAT and a hand timed forty. That is why I take the time, in reporting a football player’s forty time, to denote whether it was a hand-timed or laser timed measurement. There have been articles written about the existence and reasons behind the fact the laser time is always slower than the hand timed forty yard dash. One of these articles is linked here.

The most often cited reason is that the difference between the two comes form an inherent human delay of starting the timer after the athlete initiates the run. Simply stated, the athlete is believed to have started the run slightly before the coach can depress the start button. Further compounding the inherent variabilities are differences between athletes, coaches, time of day, weather conditions, and various other factors. Regardless of why, it is generally acknowledged by professionals that hand measured times are always faster than electronic times, although exactly by how much has yet to be pinpointed. You may be wondering why I decided, in this article, to give you a mini-dissertation on hand versus electronically timed forties? Well there is a reason.

Dedrick D-Shock Hamilton was an 8th grader, who turned 14 years old this past summer. DeDrick played football for our friend, Joe Thomas, and his 10th Street Cardinals. Hamilton carried a 3.1 GPA academically in middle school, in addition to his formidable athletic accomplishments. DeDrick attended a Rivals camp in the Nashville, Tennessee area this past summer and registered a fully automated, forty yard dash time of 4.572. That is not only freaking phenomenal but D-shocking as well. Other than maybe Elijah Howard for Tennessee, that FAT, in my mind, makes Hamilton, a 5-8 inch wide-receiver the fastest player Kentucky in the Commonwealth’s 2022 prospect class and, maybe, a top five speed guy who will take the field this Fall in the Commonwealth in any class. They have a saying in football that speed kills. That being true, DeShock is a killer!

9. Crestwood’s Will Darragh, LB, 6-0 and 180 pounds;

Will Darragh, has before been compared to one of the Class of 2021’s top linebackers, Austin Gough from Owensboro Senior. That is mighty high praise. Will Darragh, this summer, had an incredible combine when auditioning for the Kentucky Future Stars in Louisville. The 6-0, 185 pound linebacker/running back, who was 14 at the time of the combine, ran the 40 yard dash in 4.84 seconds and the pro-agility shuttle (5-10-5) in 4.63 seconds. Darragh has since been timed in the 40 at 4.72 seconds and has shuttled in 4.62 since Louisville. Darragh, underwent his knee being scoped for fragments, which is a very benign procedure, shortly prior to playing in the Tennessee-Kentucky Future Stars Classic, and wasn’t fully released to even play in that game until June 12. As a result of that procedure, he was advised to hold off lifting for a time which denied him the ability, for a recuperative time, to fully participate in the high school’s Strength & Conditioning program. Prior to that procedure, Will was already benching 185, squatting 275, pulling 315 (deadlift), and power cleaning 185 (explosive). Those numbers will only rapidly and dramatically increase. Darragh expressed displeasure with his play in the Tennessee-Kentucky game this summer. I thought he played well, watching the game, but he was displeased. I think the kid is being a little hard on himself as he was just 21 days post-op. Darragh was credited with 5.5 tackles. KPGFootball can assure you that is quite good in a game where plays are limited, per player, owing to every member of the roster being an All-Stater. Darragh has been selected a Bret Cooper 15-Under Football Junior All-American and we think an elite linebacker in his class and maybe an elite running back too.

10. Lexington’s Anthony Big Bear Johns, OL, 6-2 and 235 pounds; 

Around LCA (Lexington Christian Academy) they call him Big Bear, and as we saw this summer in the Tennessee-Kentucky Future Stars’ Classic, it probably has a lot to do with the mauling he dishes to opposing defensive linemen. Johns hopes to either start or play as a freshman at Lexington Christian Academy, and from what we hear, that is a distinct possibility inspite of LCA’s finishing 11-2 in 2017 and having many key components coming back for 2018. Three of the seniors lost were positioned along LCA’s offensive front. Not every program can boast of a 6-2, 235 pound, young Big Bear, running the 40 yard dash in 5.5 seconds, the pro-agility shuttle in 5.0 seconds, and already squatting 315 pounds, benching 205 pounds, and dead lifting 315 pounds and power cleaning 185. Now the power numbers we have just published were from this summer. Like Owen LeMaster, Big Bear has been lifting for about the previous two months and his numbers are substantially higher in all three lifts now. As for the legitimacy of his running speed and spacial quickness, the 235 pound Big Bear broad jumps 90 inches (7’6″). We call that, in football circles, hip explosion. Johns has been active and consistent, leading into the Fall season just around the corner with his strength & conditioning regimen KPGFootball is willing to wager and his power coupled with his speed and agility makes him one of 2022’s best football players in all of Kentucky. We believe Johns is running first team before LCA opens on August 25 with highly regarded, Pikeville High School.

11. Louisville’s Elijah Manning, DE, 5-11 and 220 pounds; 

Elijah Manning is 5-11 and weighs right at 220 pounds. He has a registered 40 time of 5.1 seconds and a pro-agility shuttle of 4.9 seconds. Elijah is primarily a defensive end, and he has the length, speed, burst, and bend (flexibility) to play right there. As he continues to develop and lengthen, as his frame suggests he will, he could also turn into a really athletic, big bodied, long armed offensive left tackle. Manning is a fixture on Team Kentucky as he played for both the FBU team and Team Kentucky in the Future Stars’ Classic at the end of June. Elijah Manning is attending the Class 6A, football powerhouse, Louisville Male High School in the Fall and will start out on the freshman team, like everyone at Male. However, don’t be surprised to hear of his meteoric advancement once the season gets here. Elijah has just started in the weight room with an eye toward early playing time and the results, so far, have been impressive. Manning is already benching 225 pounds, squatting 325 pounds, and pulling (deadlifting) 275. Watch what happens to the 5.1 second, 40 speed when his back squat shoots up about 100 pounds, which will happen faster than most of you can possibly fathom. With freshmen starting to lift with varsity strength and conditioning coaches entering the Fall, just watch into what Manning develops.

12. Louisville’s LeAndre Maxwell, DE, 6-0 and 200 pound;

Quick feet are important for every position…but for a defensive end, especially so. Ends need to have burst off the ball, the hips to turn a corner, and, afterwards, the closing speed to close on the football. Flexibility is important as the end has to dip the inside shoulder to get below the offensive tackle’s hands on his upfield pass rush to beat the offensive tackle when playing a 6 or greater technique. Where the defender isn’t just fast enough to beat blockers around the corner, the end has to have violent enough hands to swat away an o-lineman’s punch, thereby using his hands to free himself from blockers in defending the run. These are all characteristics we have seen in Dre Maxwell’s play which is one reason why he keeps getting selected to either Kentucky FBU teams, where he made a ton of plays this past FBU National Tournament, and the Team Kentucky Future Stars team. He works out with Chris Vaughn at Aspirations Fitness Institute so we are sure he will get to the appropriate competitive positional thickness for 6A high school competition. He has the frame which indicates the entering 9th grader will continue to add both length and bulk as we go along.

Maxwell has been clocked in the low 5’s in the 40 yard dash, recently running a 5.19 second 40 yard dash time at a Future Stars’ combine. He’s fast enough to have run the 100 meter on his middle school track team. He’s got tons of quick-twitch, get-off burst from his end slot with the bend and flexibility to dip under the OT’s hands when playing an outside technique. In the run-defense game, Maxwell also has the hand violence to free himself from the outside o-lineman’s punch and clamp. We recommend you watch this guy going forward and remember from where you first heard it, but LeAndre Maxwell is quite a way along the path to becoming the next big thing out of Louisville, Kentucky. With as many big-timers as that city produces, that prediction is quite a mouthful.

13. Paintville’s Keygan Pelfrey, TE, 6-1 and 180 pounds;

KPGFootball, would like to note about Keygan Pelfrey that, to look at him, you are ill-prepared for the performance you’re about to witness. I mean the 6-1, 180 pound, Class of 2022 prospect, really doesn’t looks substantial different from any other tall, lanky, rising 9th grade football player, at first glance. In a feature I did on Keygan prior to this year’s Tennessee-Kentucky Future Stars’ Classic, I noted that Pelfry already squats northward of 300 pounds, while bench pressing 225. Well at the Mountain Combine, the 180 pounder bench pressed 5 pounds more than his body weight (185 pounds) which is the High School rep weight, 8 times. When you apply the old muscleandstrength.com bench press calculator to those figures it relates an approximate, one-rep, bench press maximum lift of 235 pounds. As someone who regularly accesses that particular program, I have to say I have found it frighteningly accurate. Now, this is a kid who hasn’t been too involved in weight lifting to date, as almost no middle schoolers ever are, who is what I would describe as freakishly strong for his age and anatomical development. Now on top of physical prowess, the kid is also freakishly fast. His best timed 40 yard dash at the Mountain All-State Combine was 4.61 seconds but both of his time 40’s were under 5 seconds and both his pro-agility shuttles (5-10-5) were timed at 4.7 seconds. Pelfrey’s fastest L-cone drill was run at 7.5 seconds making him the strongest and one of the most physically gifted, fast, agile, and quick of the 2022 kids at the combine. Pelfry was selected to play for Kentucky in the Future Stars’ Classic and Keygan has a nearly 30 inch standing vertical.

Keygan figures to contribute right away at Johnson Central and probably at its TE position as the offensive front’s 6th lineman and working the middle zone in the short passing game matched up, one-on-one with opposing linebackers. If Pelfry isn’t a day one starter for the Eagles, it won’t take him more than a few games to make the starting line-up and he will see the field, and figure prominently in the Johnson Central brain-trusts’ game plans, as early as game one. Keygan Pelfry took top honors among our 2022 prospects at his position at the Mountain All-State Football Combine and is someone who has planted himself squarely on the watch list for KPGFootball’s 2018 Freshman All-State Football team.

14. Cambellville’s Ben Vaughn, LB, 5-11 and 180 pounds;

Ben, who will play this Fall for Taylor County High School, is a 5-11, 180 pounder who has played in middle school TE (“H” or “Y” in the Spread), DE, OLB, and RB. We believe at Kentucky Prep Gridiron he has a tremendous future at the high school level at any of these positions depending on how he physically matures and can see him really turning into a big powerful running back in the mold of a Logan Parker (2020), or even Austin Gough (2021). Ben is an accomplished player, being selected to both Team Kentucky FBU and to the Kentucky Future Stars. Ben runs very well, gets north-south quickly without any negative steps, and, at LB, exhibits the ability to both shed blockers and scrape down the line to make plays. Vaughn is a sure tackler, and looks, on film anyway, to have excellent speed. Taylor County used him to make big offensive plays this year from both the backfield offensively and down the field in the vertical, deep, down-field pass game. He gained easy seperation from opposing defenders. As this kid continues to strengthen and condition, it will be fun to see what he does on a football field, provided you aren’t the coach attempting to contain him. We have started compiling our watch list for Kentucky’s 2022 Class for this year’s Freshman, All-State football team. We have our eye on Ben Vaughn and imagine he will feature prominently in future lists compiling top 2022 prospects moving forward.

15. Louisville’s Jayshawne Shizz Monroe, LB/DL, 5-11 and 235 pounds;

Malone, far right of frame, grasping trophy

If anyone thinks Monroe reminds you of Class of 2021’s, MaxPreps Freshman All-American and KPG Freshman All-Stater at LB, Justice Thompson, there are some very good reasons why, in addition to the frame and thickness. Jayshawne Monroe, while only a rising freshman (2022), is a 235 pound linebacker and defensive lineman who already runs a fully-automated 5.2 second, 40 yard dash, timed at the Adidas adizero Rivals Speed Combine in Hendersonville, Tennessee at Pope John Paul II High School this past summer. Monroe played for the Team Kentucky Future Stars which just won its third straight contest over its Tennessee counter-parts at Georgetown College at this past June’s Tennessee-Kentucky Future Stars Classic. At Johnson Traditional Middle School, The Shizz had 6 rushing TDs, 6 TDs receiving, 2 sacks where he stripped, scooped, and then scored TDs while at linebacker, and another fumble recovery for a TD where he also blocked the punt attempt. Johnson Traditional lost 14-12 to Farnsely, a Division 1 state semi-finalist, in the second round of the KYMSFA middle school, football playoffs, last year. For those of you counting, that is 15 scored TDs a year ago from a player primarily forecast to play defense at the high school level. I believe Jayshawne Shizz Monroe is going to test that we don’t play freshman on the varsity at Male High School business this Fall. I know this he would play varsity football at 95% of the high schools in Kentucky, regardless of classification.

16. Danville’s Jackson Smith, PK/Punter, 5-11 and 165 pounds; 

Okay, if we are picking rising freshman sure to play on Saturday, then Smith gets bumped into the top-five, maybe even number one. We think Kiyaunta Goodwin is the top offensive tackle in the Country in 2022, but there is no debate, at all, about the country’s top place kicker/punter in the Class of 2022. The consensus is Jackson Smith. We first saw Jackson Smith burst onto the scene in the KYMSFA Championship Football game between Boyle County Middle School and Corbin. In that game Smith was 3 for 3 on field goal attempts, including nailing a 51 yarder, right through the uprights. Jackson Smith was selected to the Bret Cooper Junior All-American game where he was awarded the Luis Fernando Zendejas Award as the week’s outstanding performer as a place kicker/punter. Jackson attended the ProKicker.com camp, which is the pre-eminent camp for specialists in the Country, and was selected, by the staff, as the nation’s number one ranked place kicker and punter in the 2022 Class. Jackson, at the Bret Cooper game, also got reps at LB. Just something to think about for any high school players, this Fall, who aspire to get a highlight attempting to ring up the Boyle County place-kicker. There may well be a highlight hit administered but it might not be yours. Jackson Smith is one tough son-of-a-gun; but, then again, not a lot of wimps around Danville, Kentucky.

17. Alexandria’s Preston Agee, QB, 6-0 and 162 pounds;

Cambell County High School is a school with an enrollment between 1,500-1600 students in Alexandria, Kentucky. Their new head football coach is named Mike Woolf, they were 7-5 in 2017 (under Stephen Lickert), lost to Louisville Trinity in the playoffs’ second round, and play out of District 6 of the 6A Classification. That is about all you need to know about the Camels other than just one more thing…it’s a place where a freshman QB would have little to no chance of starting on Friday nights. This is 6A football for crying out loud, how in the world would anyone dare to presume a freshman could come up from middle school and start at QB? C’mon, man are you freaking crazy?  We knew you were thinking it, we just thought we would beat you to saying it. We believe at KPGFootball, there is a very good chance incoming Class of 2022 signal caller, Preston Agee, maybe the Camels’, day one, Friday night, starter at the most visible offensive position on the field. Preston Agee isn’t just any rising 9th grade QB. He is one of the two best QBs in the 2022 class, along with Pikeville’s Isaac MacNamee. He has stature at 6-0 and 162 pounds, speed with his 4.9 second, 40 yard dash registered time and his 4.52 second, pro-agility shuttle (5-10-5), is very athletic, as his middle school career in Track & Field certainly demonstrates (two-time record holder at CCMS in high jump, long jump, and 200 meter hurdles), and has plenty of QB moxie and savvy. Agee, in addition to playing QB at CCMS also quarterbacked numerous Team Kentuckys, both Future Stars and FBU.

There it is folks, the KPGFootball’s 17 top prospects for the Class of 2022. This should get the debate rolling around the Commonwealth as high school teams are on the brink of kicking off their seasons all over the Bluegrass. We all be excited to see how it all fleshes out and hope you will continue to read the site and enjoy it with us.

Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long reminding all of you ballers out there to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE.

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