Jake Simpson LB 6-0 210 Buford, GA (Buford)
Team captain . . . 3-star prospect by 247 and ESPN . . . Rated as the No. 79 linebacker in the nation by ESPN . . . First team all-region in both 2015 and 2016 . . . Honorable mention all-state class 5-A by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution . . . Helped the Wolves to three straight state championship games from 2013 through 2015 . . . Won one state title and finished second twice . . . . As a senior, collected 103 tackles, five tackles for loss, nine QB pressures, three sacks, an interception and five pass break-ups . . . Had 18 receptions for 270 yards and two touchdowns on offense . . . Had 97 tackles on the season in 2015 . . . Honorable mention all-county selection as a junior . . . Played for his father, Jess, at Buford High School . . . His father recently became the defensive line coach at Georgia State . . . Brother, Cooper, just finished freshman year at Army West Point . . . Son of Tricia and Jess Simpson . . . Born Sept. 17, 1998 . . . Participated in IDEALS Leadership school . . . Member of the A Honor Roll all throughout high school.
Clawson on Simpson: "He was one of the first linebackers we had committed, and played for his father at Buford High School. Another one of our Georgia guys. We offered him early. He got great toughness and football instincts — all those things you'd want from a coaches' son. I think once he gets in our weight room, he's really going to fill out and become a heck of a football player. At linebacker, we look for toughness and instincts. That's some of what Jake brings to the table."
Sage Surratt WR 6-3 200 Lincolnton, NC (Lincolnton)
Team captain . . . 3-star prospect by 247 and Scout . . . Ranked 98th nationally at WR by ESPN . . . Named a Parade All-American . . . Two-time first team Associated Press all-state selection . . . Named first team all-state by USA Today and NC Preps . . . State Offensive Player of the Year by Associated Press . . . Offensive Player of the Year by the Gaston Gazette . . . As a senior, set state records with 129 receptions, 2,104 yards and 28 touchdowns . . . Returned two interceptions for touchdowns for a total of 30 scores in 2016 . . . Set the state record for career receiving with 366 receptions, 5,924 yards and 80 touchdowns . . . Earned all-conference honors in all four seasons in both football and basketball . . . Played for Coach Ledford Gibson at Lincolnton . . . Three-time MaxPreps All-American in football and basketball . . . Helped East Lincoln HS to the 2014 2A state championship in football . . . Also plays basketball where he was a 2,500-point scorer in high school and tallied over 50 points three times as a senior including a career-high 57 points . . . That scoring outburst landed him on the USA Today’s All-USA Performance list . . . Is Lincoln County’s all-time scoring leader . . . All-state basketball player by Associated Press, USA Today, NC Preps and NCBA . . . Named the most outstanding player in the 2A state title game in 2015 and 2016 . . . Son of Brandi and Kevin Surratt . . . Born April 13, 1998 . . . Named the Wendy’s High School Heisman winner for North Carolina . . . Ranked third in his class . . . Member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club . . . Brother, Chazz, just finished his freshman year as a quarterback at North Carolina.
Clawson on Surratt: "I watched him play basketball the other night, and he had 57 effortlessly. If he had gotten a few calls, he probably would have gotten 60. His mom and I both agreed that he got fouled on a couple of 3-pointers that didn't get called. A lot of people have asked me if coach Manning can have him in the winter. As soon as he gives me (John) Collins for the red zone, I'll give him Sage for this. He's a player now. He's athletic. In basketball, he's one of the top-five scorers in the country. His brother was a heck of a quarterback who we tried to recruit. We didn't get the older one, but we got the younger one. He's a competitor. I think he's another one of those guys who when they focus on just football, he's really going to develop. He has ball skills you just can't teach."
D.J. Taylor LB 6-1 225 Belvidere, TN (Huntland)
Team captain . . . Consensus 3-star rating from ESPN, 247, Rivals and Scout . . . Rated the No. 63 OLB nationally by 247 . . . The No. 2 OLB in Tennessee as ranked by Scout . . . First team all-state by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association in Class 1A . . . Selected for the East-West All-Star Game . . . Named a semifinalist for Tennessee Mr. Football . . . Three-time all-region selection . . . Region 4A Most Valuable Back in 2015 . . . Named All-Mid-State and All-Lakeaway Area . . .Rushed for 2,162 yards and 30 touchdowns on 261 carries as a senior . . . Finished his career as Huntland’s all-time rushing leader with 5,131 rushing yards and 70 touchdowns . . . Collected 69 tackles on defense . . . Four-year letterwinner for Coach Bob Robertson . . . Full name is Dacorian Jayvon Taylor . . . Son of Lynette Taylor and Calvin Ward . . . Born Sept. 29, 1999.
Clawson on Taylor: "He's another versatile football player. We like him as a linebacker. His ability to run and hit, his ball skills and instincts — he's a really good athlete, who I think will develop and become a really good linebacker for us. We see him playing the BUCK or WILL linebacker position, kind of bring him in and learn from Jaboree (Williams). He'll maybe compete for time next year, but when Jaboree leaves, that's a position that we need filled."
Ja’Sir Taylor DB 5-10 165 Asbury Park, NJ (Brick Township)
Rated the No. 146 athlete nationally by 247 . . . Ranked No. 2 on the Super 60 Shore Conference recruits by the Burlington (NJ) Free Press . . . Earned all-conference honors in 2016 . . . Was the Green Dragons’ top rusher as a senior with 544 yards and 11 touchdowns . . . Led Brick Township to the 2013 Central Jersey Group 4 State Championship and a runner-up finish in 2016 . . . Also a track standout . . . Four-year letterwinner for Rob Dahl and Len Zdanowicz . . . Son of Aja Braxton and Johnnie Taylor . . . Born Jan. 8, 1999.
Clawson on Ja'Sir Taylor: "He did everything in high school. He was their top rusher. He played quarterback. A lot of people recruited him as an offensive player, but we love him as a cover corner. He's got a documented 10.6-10.7 100-meter. He can flat out run, and has excellent ball skills. He was a guy that we got late. Certainly the success of the season helped us. Winning the bowl game helped us. We're thrilled to add him into the mix."
Zach Tom OL 6-4 280 Prairieville, LA (Catholic)
Listed as a 3-star prospect by Scout, ESPN and 247 . . . Considered the No. 86 offensive guard in the nation by ESPN . . . Listed as the No. 3 offensive tackle in the Louisiana by Scout . . . First team all-state by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association . . . First team All-District 5-5A . . . First Team Class 4A-56A All-Metro pick as a senior . . . Helped Catholic to an unbeaten regular season in 2016 . . . Led the way for an offense that averaged 313 yards and 31.5 points per game . . . Played for Coach Dale Weiner . . . Took third in the state in the shot put as a junior . . . Son of Vanessa and Michael Tom . . . Born March 26, 1999 . . . Member of National Honor Society . . . Earned Academic Letters as a freshman, sophomore, and junior . . . Brother Cameron was a four-year starter on the offensive line at Southern Miss.
Clawson on Tom: "Another big framed, very athletic offensive lineman. Coach Tabacca watched him practice. He's very athletic and very light on his feet. I think the only thing he lacks is weight, but I have great confidence in our strength and nutrition program here. In two years, this will be a 305-pound guy who can move, like a lot of our offensive lineman."
Tyler Williams DT 6-1 310 West Palm Beach, FL (Oxbridge Academy)
Team captain . . . Consensus 3-star recruit . . . ESPN rates him the No. 70 defensive tackle in the nation . . . Ranked the No. 12 defensive tackle in Florida by Scout . . . Won the Lou Groza Award as Palm Beach County’s Player of the Year in 2016 . . . Named the All-Area Defensive Player of the Year by the Palm Beach Post . . . Member of CBS MaxPreps Small Schools All-American Football Team . . . Made 38 total tackles and 19 tackles for loss with four sacks and two forced fumbles . . . Helped Oxbridge Academy to a 10-2 record and the state 3-A semifinals . . . Three-year letterman for Coach Brendan Kent . . . Son of Tyeisha Rousseau . . . Stepfather is Hydn Rousseau and father is Rodney Williams . . . Born Aug. 11, 1999.
Clawson on Williams: "The bar on the defensive line was very high for us, and the only two we took are Mike Allen who I think will make a difference on the edge and Tyler Williams. He's in the Zeek Rodney, Suliaman Kamara mode. He's 6-foot, 310 pounds, powerful, athletic, can create a new line of scrimmage and had a great senior year. He comes from an excellent program and is going to be a great addition to our defensive line."