Marcus Dupree is widely considered one of the greatest high school football players who ever lived.
At the very least, he’s on the short list.
Just two years after Herschel Walker set it, the Philadelphia, Miss. running back broke the national mark for most career touchdowns in 1981.
But during Dupree’s celebrated senior season, his team struggled for much of the year to stay above .500. Even his trancendant talent, which would inspire books, documentaries, and mass salivating among college recruiters wasn’t enough to carry his team alone.
The best teams have role players who can ascend to stardom when called upon and each season a new group rises to the call.
As we count down to days until the 2012 season kicks off in earnest, here’s a list of players who could be on the verge of a breakout season, and whose success could enable their teams to turn their late-summer goals into an autumn realities.
1. Will Anglin: Wide receiver, Dawson County
After finishing second on the team with 374 receiving yards last season, Anglin is in line for a big season if the Tigers offense lives up to expectations.
And if the season opener is any indication, it will.
Anglin had three receptions for 80 yards in Dawson County’s 42-0 win over East Hall on Friday and will be a constant source of frustration for opposing defenses that neglect him to focus on the Tigers’ big three of QB Tyler Dominy, RB Zack Martin and WR Bruce Clark.
2. Caleb Faulkner: Running back, Lakeview
Faulkner was second on the team in rushing yards last season at North Hall, gaining 608 yards (5.9 avg.) and scoring nine touchdowns.
This year he’ll be lining up in the Lions backfield and will give coach Matthew Gruhn a potent threat in his triple-option offense to go along with running back Trevor Price and quarterback Ted Reynolds.
3. Caleb Hayman: Wide receiver, Gainesville
Hayman didn’t play much of a role on offense for the Red Elephants last season, but his size and athleticism hasn’t gone unnoticed by colleges, as the 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior is committed to play at South Alabama next year.
Expect his stats to get a big boost this season.
Not only must Gainesville’s leading receiver from last fall be replaced (Stephen Mason; 62 receptions, 901 yards), but Justin Cantrell (50 rec., 681 yards) is focusing on defense this fall.
4. Jackson McDonald: Quarterback, Flowery Branch
The last four starting quarterbacks at Flowery Branch each signed with Division-I colleges. McDonald need not live up to that standard to be a success.
The former back-up will have his chance to shine in what has been one of the area’s most prolific offenses, helming the Falcons’ spread that former coach Lee Shaw installed and that his successor Chris Griffin has kept in place.
5. Korie Rogers: Linebacker, Buford
After losing a big group of seniors, many programs claim to reload instead of rebuild. In few places is it more true than at Buford.
The Wolves lost nine starters from last year’s defense, including three linebackers now on college rosters. It’s the kind of challenge no team wants to face, but when players like Rogers are left behind, it makes the task more manageable.
Rogers tallied more than 50 tackles and eight sacks last season as a sophomore in a reserve role.