The list of top returning linebackers in the Lowcountry for the 2019 season includes a solid mix of seniors and underclassmen, starting with a pair of veterans from Region 8-AAAAA.
Fort Dorchester’s Darryle Ware, 6-2, 220, plays on the outside and has received early offers from Georgia Tech and Colorado State. Charleston Southern extended an offer a few weeks ago and Fort Dorchester coach Steve LaPrad feels many more offers are forthcoming.
Summerville’s Luke Taylor (6-1, 210) plays inside as the anchor of the Green Wave defense. Taylor missed some games early last season but finished with 112 tackles. He will be a third-year starter for head coach Joe Call this fall. Taylor has yet to get a scholarship offer but is getting interest this summer.
Another tackling machine is at Berkeley where Jake Dunn has led the Stags’ defense in tackles for the last two years. Dunn (5-11, 205) has nearly 300 tackles in the last two years and has the eyes of several Ivy League programs.
“He’s one of the smartest football players I’ve ever coached,” Berkeley coach Randy Robinson said. “He studies film and he knows everything the offense is doing. He’s our coach out there on the field.”
West Ashley sophomore Caleb Edwards is a likely major college prospect in the future. Edwards already has the size at 6-4, 225-pounds and had more than 100 tackles last season.
Philip Simmons junior Tyler Harper, though undersized at 5-9, 170, had 112 tackles as a sophomore, and Porter-Gaud senior JD Key is the top returning defender for new head coach Brad Bowles. Key, 6-1, 205-pounds, had 105 total hits last season.
Goose Creek has a pair of key returners in juniors Nyheim Simmons (5-10, 220) and Quinn Tolbert (5-10, 190), while Baptist Hill returns senior Tiquain Bright (6-2, 230) to anchor their defensive unit.
Ross Greenhill (5-10, 220) will be a third-year starter at linebacker for the Hurricanes of First Baptist while Oceanside Collegiate’s Joey Boylston (6-2, 200) is a hybrid defender and also one of the state’s top lacrosse players.
Bishop England will count heavily on returning linebackers Sammy Gress and Drew Owens. Stratford junior Mason Lord is a team leader for coach Dennie McDaniel.
2019 top Lowcountry linebackers
1. Darryle Ware, Fort Dorchester, Sr.
2. Luke Taylor, Summerville, Sr.
3. Jake Dunn, Berkeley, Sr.
4. Caleb Edwards, West Ashley, So.
5. Nyheim Simmons, Goose Creek, Jr.
6. Joey Boylston, Oceanside Collegiate, Sr.
7. Jaheem Black, Colleton County, Sr.
8. Tiquain Bright, Baptist Hill, Sr.
9. Quinn Tolbert, Goose Creek, Jr.
10. JD Key, Porter-Gaud, Sr.
Others to watch: Ross Greenhill, First Baptist; Jake Fetchen, Wando; Quavon Frasier, James Island; Khalil Mack-Gooch, Stall; Mason Lord, Stratford; Tyler Harper, Philip Simmons; Javier Collins-Smith, Philip Simmons; Sean Lowery, St. John’s; Delray Ford, Ashley Ridge; Drew Owens, Bishop England; Sammy Gress, Bishop England; Chris Smoak, Cane Bay.
Position breakdown series
May 29 – Quarterbacks
June 5 – Wide receivers
June 12 – Running backs
June 19 – Offensive Line
June 26 – Defensive Line
July 3 – Linebackers
July 10 – Defensive Backs
July 17 – Specialists
July 24 – Lowcountry Preseason Top 10 teams