The Prep Sports Report previews the 2022 high school football season for Savannah area teams by taking a look at some of the top skill players coming to a field near you this fall. This group includes notable running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. All stats are courtesy of MaxPreps unless otherwise noted and there is no specific ranking in order of posting of players.
Savannah lost a fair amount of talent from the skill position ranks in 2021. The city still has plenty of playmakers ready to make their marks on the gridiron this year, however. Here are some notable names to watch for this year.
ZA’QUAN BRYAN – WR – BENEDICTINE
When it comes to receivers in south Georgia, they don’t come any better than this Benedictine senior. Bryan is already committed to Minnesota, and he is coming off an All-State season as a junior when he caught 95 balls for 1,396 yards and 15 touchdowns. For his career, Bryan has 140 catches for 2,106 yards and 20 touchdowns. He should be considered a front-runner for Savannah’s Player of the Year honors.
RAVON GRANT – WR – RICHMOND HILL
The senior receiver is coming off a solid junior campaign for the Wildcats and head coach Matt LeZotte. Grant caught 46 balls for 793 yards (17.3 yards per catch) and five touchdowns last year, and he’ll have the same quarterback (Ty Goldrick) again this season. He is a legitimate 10 touchdown, 1,000-yard threat in 2022.
KEION WALLACE – WR – EFFINGHAM
An injury forced Wallace to miss half of his sophomore season two years ago and all of last season as a junior. Still, he is an athletic rarity and posted 27 catches for 289 yards and four touchdowns in just six games as a sophomore. Wallace is poised for a breakout senior season, likely on both sides of the ball.
MICHAEL SMITH – TE – CALVARY DAY – JR.
Calvary’s roster has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, but Smith offers a unique skill-set at the high school level, operating as a true tight end for quarterback Jake Merklinger. Smith had 42 catches for 684 yards and nine touchdowns last season as a sophomore. He is the best tight end in the city and has college scholarship offers from the likes of Oklahoma, Ohio State, Florida, Florida State and Miami, among others.
JOSHUA PRIDGEN – RB – JENKINS
Pridgen was one of the most productive running backs in the state of Georgia last season as a junior. In an age of running back tandems and splitting carries, Pridgen was reliable and sturdy for head coach Tony Welch’s club. He was ninth in all of Class 4A in rushing yards (1,087) while scoring 12 touchdowns on 148 carries.
ZO SMALLS – RB – SAVANNAH CHRISTIAN
As a freshman in 2021, Smalls played like a seasoned veteran for the Raiders. In limited carries, he averaged 6.1 yards per rush attempt while tallying 317 rushing yards on 53 carries. This year, Smalls should get more opportunity out of the Raider backfield and with more carries and more experience under his belt, he is ready for a big sophomore campaign.
MICHAEL GRANDY – RB – SAVANNAH COUNTRY DAY
While the SCD offense was primarily based around quarterback Barry Kleinpeter in 2021, Grandy showed why he is one of the better running backs in the city as a junior two-way player for the Hornets. He rushed for 739 yards and nine touchdowns on 153 carries while also logging 32 tackles and an interception in the Country Day secondary. With a new quarterback in 2022, the Hornets should rely heavily on Grandy again this season, giving him lots of potential for production in his senior season.
SAMARI DOWDY – RB – JOHNSON
Perhaps one of the most underrated transfers in the city this year, Dowdy comes to Johnson from New Hampstead for his senior season in 2022. Off-the-field issues led to Dowdy’s transfer to SCJ, but in eight games for the Phoenix last year, he was excellent with the ball in his hands. Dowdy led NHHS with 661 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 61 carries.
EDWARD ‘DOOPAH’ COLEMAN – ATH – CALVARY DAY
Coleman would’ve been a lock for the mythical Freshman of the Year award last season if not for his teammate Donovan Johnson’s dynamite campaign in 2021. Coleman’s role will almost certainly be increased this year now that Johnson has transferred to IMG Academy, and his ability to play multiple positions gives new offensive coordinator Russell DeMasi plenty of avenues to get him the ball. Coleman caught 48 passes for 493 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman. All eight of his touchdowns came after October 1 (five games).
ZION GRIFFIN – WR – NEW HAMPSTEAD
Griffin played a great second-fiddle to senior receiver Toriano Bias last year as a junior for the Phoenix. This year, he’ll step in as the No. 1 receiver for quarterback Pauly Seeley and head coach Kyle Hockman. As a junior, Griffin caught 25 balls for 393 yards and four touchdowns while also recording seven tackles and an interception in limited time as a defensive back.
FOLLOW Travis Jaudon on Twitter/Instagram @JaudonSports. Email him at travisLjaudon@gmail.com.
PHOTO CREDITS - Players Twitter Pages & Hudl video accounts
Optim Orthopedics supports Benedictine Military School, Calvary Day School, Richmond Hill High School, Savannah Country Day, South Effingham High School, and St. Vincent's athletics. Benedictine Military School's team doctor is Dr. David Sedory. Dr. David Palmer is the team doctor for Calvary Day School, South Effingham, and Richmond Hill. Savannah Country Day and St. Vincent's team doctor is Dr. Thomas Alexander. Remember, Optim Orthopedics gets you back into the game!