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Alabama's best high school football players: Top defensive linemen in the state

SBLive is taking a closer look at the best high school football players in Alabama, position by position
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Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a position-by-position look at some of the top players in Alabama high school football. Our next list focuses on the defensive line.

There are hundreds of standout football players in Alabama and these lists are not intended to be comprehensive. Let us know about any other defensive linemen worthy of fans’ attention in 2022.


(The list is in alphabetical order)

Brian Alston, 6-2, 230, senior, Spain Park

Alston totaled 61 tackles, including 18 for loss, as a junior. He has some positional versatility, as he can line up on the interior of the defensive line, with his hand in the ground at defensive end, or as a stand-up outside linebacker. College coaches have taken notice of his production. A three-star prospect in the 247Sports composite, Alston has offers from Arkansas, Louisville, Michigan and Mississippi State, among others.

Jeremiah Beaman, 6-4, 265, junior, Parker

Beaman posted 41 tackles, including six for loss, as a sophomore and could be poised for an even bigger junior campaign. Beaman, who mans the interior of the Parker defensive front, has seen his stock soar on the recruiting trail this summer. He’s picked up offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Miami and several other Power Five schools since May.

Malik Blocton, 6-3, 270, junior, Pike Road

Blocton will try to fill the void left behind by Khurtiss Perry, last year’s Class 5A defensive lineman of the year who is now at Alabama. College coaches clearly think highly of his talent, as he already has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina, Tennessee and several other schools.

JaQuize Buycks, 6-2, 270, senior, Stanhope Elmore

Buycks was a force on the interior of the Stanhope Elmore defensive line as a junior. He drew several FBS offers on the recruiting trail before committing to Liberty in July.

Kelby Collins, 6-5, 280, senior, Gardendale

Collins was a force last season, totaling 12 sacks and 20 tackles for loss in 13 games. College coaches from across the country have taken note of his size and production. Collins, a four-star prospect, is ranked by the 247Sports composite as the No. 6 defensive end prospect nationally in the class of 2023. Collins’ offer list includes Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. He has set a commitment date of Aug. 13.

Tae Diamond, 5-10, 215, sophomore, Cherokee County

As a freshman, Diamond totaled 53 tackles and nine sacks last fall. The performance was enough to earn him second team all-state honors. He should only keep getting more productive as he continues to grow.

Bryston Dixon, 6-4, 270, senior, Leroy

Dixon lined up at both nose tackle and defensive end in Leroy’s three-man defensive front last season and was productive from both spots. The Class 2A second team all-state selection committed to play his college ball at Georgia Southern.

Keldric Faulk, 6-5, 240, senior, Highland Home

Faulk thrived on the edge of the Highland Home defensive front, where he did more than just rush the passer. As a junior, Faulk racked up 82 tackles, including 30 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. He also broke up six passes. Another four-star recruit, Faulk committed to Florida State in July.

Walter Goggins, 6-2, 260, senior, Deshler

Goggins earned honorable mention all-state recognition in Class 4A last fall. The defensive tackle has picked up a few Division I scholarship offers, including Navy, North Alabama and Mercer.

Adrian Griffin, 6-5, 260, senior, Fairfield Prep

Griffin starts on both the offensive and defensive lines for Fairfield. He has committed to Troy, where he will likely focus on the defensive side of the ball.

Carson Hall, 6-4, 275, senior, Ranburne

Hall received honorable mention all-state recognition as a sophomore and then made the second team a year ago. Could he move up to the first team as a senior? It’s not out of the question. Hall totaled 63 tackles, including 20 for loss, a year ago. Also a wrestling state champion, he has committed to Air Force.

Kavion Henderson, 6-3, 240, junior, Leeds

Henderson first tasted varsity action as an eighth-grader, so the rising junior is a veteran at this point. Henderson, ranked a four-star prospect in the 247Sports composite, is one of the top recruits in the state in the class of 2024. He has drawn offers from several Power Five schools, including Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia and Oklahoma, and he has announced that he will make a commitment on Nov. 6.

Jaeden Jackson, 6-1, 275, senior, Andalusia

Jackson transferred from George W. Long to Andalusia for his senior season. The defensive tackle has attracted a long list of suitors on the recruiting trail, fielding offers from 10 Power Five schools so far.

Connor Knight, 6-1, 275, senior, Hewitt-Trussville

Knight will return to Hewitt-Trussville, where he started his high school career, for his senior season after a year at Pinson Valley. The defensive tackle should further bolster what projects to be a strong defensive front. Knight attracted a long list of scholarship offers as a recruit and has committed to South Florida.

Hunter Osborne, 6-4, 260, senior, Hewitt-Trussville

Osborne committed to stay in his home state and play his college football at Alabama earlier this month. Before that, he’ll play one final season for Hewitt-Trussville. Osborne totaled 60 tackles, including 5.5 sacks, as a junior. While he seems to project as a defensive tackle in college, he did his damage from the defensive end position a season ago.

Tomarrion Parker, 6-4, 250, senior, Central Phenix City

Parker totaled 78 tackles, including a whopping 27 tackles for loss and 15 sacks, in 2021. He also scored twice on fumble returns. That production earned him first team all-state honors. The defensive end is a top-100 prospect in the 247Sports composite. He committed to Penn State in June but backed off that pledge in August.

Brendan Parsons, 6-1, 215, junior, Northside

Parsons not only started as a sophomore, but produced. The defensive end totaled 44 tackles, including 11 for loss and four sacks. He also recovered two fumbles. That earned him a spot on the Class 4A all-state second team.

Jamari Payne, 6-3, 245, junior, Loachapoka

Payne was named to the Class 1A all-state second team as a sophomore. Payne has proven effective both with his hand in the dirt and as a stand-up rush end.

Yhonzae Pierre, 6-4, 220, senior, Eufala

Another in-state star who will play his college football at Alabama, Pierre totaled 16 sacks and seven tackles for loss as a junior. He’s ranked as the No. 16 edge rusher in the 2023 class by the 247Sports composite.

Dearion Prothro, 6-1, 255, senior, Cleburne County

Prothro was named to the Class 4A all-state first team last fall. A defensive end in the Tigers’ three-man front, Prothro is a force both as a run-stuffer and a pass-rusher.

Christian Ross, 6-4, 215, senior, Dale County

Ross starts on both sides of the ball for Dale County, at tight end and defensive end. On the defensive side, he totaled 53 tackles last season. He has committed to play his college ball at Memphis, where his focus will likely be defense.

Cade Rouse, 6-0, 220, senior, Corner

Rouse earned honorable mention all-state recognition in Class 5A as a junior. The defensive end has committed to Division-III Ferrum College.

Qua Russaw, 6-2, 230, senior, Carver

Russaw terrorized opposing offenses from his defensive end post last season. He accumulated a ridiculous 130 tackles, including 27.5 for loss and 16 sacks. That production earned him first team all-state honors. It also helped make him a five-star prospect and the No. 26-ranked recruit in the 2023 class. Russaw holds offers from an elite list of college programs, including Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Florida.

James Smith, 6-4, 310, senior, Carver

Smith is back in Alabama after spending last season at national power IMG Academy in Florida. He immediately becomes the top prospect in the state on the recruiting front. The five-star prospect is ranked as the nation’s No. 13 player by the 247Sports composite and has scholarship offers from virtually every Power Five school in the country. Lining up at defensive tackle in the same defensive front as Russaw, he will present opposing offensive lines a major matchup problem.

Michael Towner, 6-2, 245, senior, Vigor

Towner put up monstrous numbers as a junior, racking up 113 tackles, 10 sacks and four interceptions. He also forced six fumbles, recovered four and found the end zone four times. As a result, he was named the Class 4A defensive lineman of the year. Towner has committed to play collegiately at UAB.

Emmanuel Waller, 6-4, 250, senior, Oak Mountain

Waller totaled 66 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and four sacks while playing for Chelsea last season. The defensive end has since transferred to Oak Mountain. Waller drew offers from several Power Five schools on the recruiting trail but opted to commit to his hometown school in UAB.

Peter Woods, 6-3, 270, senior, Thompson

Peter Woods, Thompson

Woods was one of the leaders for a dominant Thompson defense during the Warriors’ state championship run last fall. Woods racked up 92 tackles, including 26 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. The first-team all-state player is ranked as the No. 28 prospect in the 2023 class by the 247Sports composite and committed to Clemson last month. 


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