No high school football program in the Lowcountry has produced more college players over the last decade than Fort Dorchester. From the look of things, that trend will continue.
Fort Dorchester has seven players on defense that will likely play at the next level, including its entire defensive line. It's no surprise that Fort Dorchester dominates the list of top defensive linemen in the area heading into the 2019 season.
At the top of the list is Fort Dorchester senior Emmanuel Johnson, a 6-5, 250-pound defensive end. Johnson already has college offers from Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Western Kentucky and Wake Forest.
Johnson has athletic ability in his bloodlines as the son of Katrina McClain Johnson, who is one of the best women’s basketball players in Lowcountry history. McClain won two Olympic gold medals and is a member of the women’s basketball hall of fame. She was the 1987 national player of the year while playing at Georgia.
Fort Dorchester also has seniors Brandon Johnson and DaQuan Robinson getting plenty of attention from colleges at all levels. Both are great students in the classroom and team leaders, according to head coach Steve LaPrad.
Brandon Johnson is a 6-3, 280-pound tackle with offers from Furman, The Citadel, Charleston Southern, Eastern Kentucky, Coastal Carolina, Navy and Florida Atlantic. He plans to narrow his list to five schools in July.
“The d-line, we’re a brotherhood and we work hard together and push each other,” Brandon Johnson said. “We keep each other up and improve as a unit every day.”
Robinson is a bit undersized at 5-11, 235-pounds and is awaiting his first offer. However, he feels those are coming after a solid performance on the summer camp circuit.
“They can’t measure my heart and what’s inside me,” he said. “I work hard. I will do whatever I have to do and I am confident in myself. I never miss a chance to get better. I will get my chance at the next level.”
Fort Dorchester sophomore DJ Watson is a 6-3, 250-pound tackle and also is receiving major college interest.
Timberland junior end Jamaal McKinney (6-3, 210) has started since his freshman year for coach Art Craig. McKinney has added size and strength over the last year and will be a hot recruiting commodity next year.
Hanahan end Kai Buffalo and nose guard Tyree Drayton give the Hawks solid leadership on a young defense.
Oceanside Collegiate’s front is paced by returning senior end Mark Jellema (6-0, 220), with Myles Castain expected to move over from offense and anchor a tackle position.
Stratford also has two key returners in end Nick Barkley (6-4, 240) and tackle Josh Phelps (6-1, 240). Goose Creek junior Symeon Kennedy (6-1, 260) and Ashley Ridge senior Anthony Jackson (6-0, 290) return to anchor their teams' defensive fronts.
Another developing sophomore prospect is Bernard Brown, a 6-4 end.
Top 10 Lowcountry defensive linemen
1. Emmanuel Johnson, Fort Dorchester, Sr.
2. Jamaal McKinney, Timberland, Jr.
3. Brandon Johnson, Fort Dorchester, Sr.
4. DaQuan Robinson, Fort Dorchester, Sr.
5. DJ Watson, Fort Dorchester, So.
6. Mark Jellema, Oceanside Collegiate, Sr.
7. Kai Buffalo, Hanahan, Sr.
8. Symeon Kennedy, Goose Creek, Jr.
9. Nick Barkley, Stratford, Sr.
10. Bernard Brown, St. John’s, So.
Others to watch: Jacquez Cancer, Berkeley; Anthony Jackson, Ashley Ridge; Lateef Sharpe, Cane Bay; Zavier Davis, Summerville; Malcolm Green, Colleton County; Tyree Drayton, Hanahan; Myles Castain, Oceanside Collegiate; Josh Phelps, Stratford; Ray Rivera, Wando; Devin Ray, First Baptist
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 – Preseason Top 10 teams