High school top five: Defensive players to watch

Published 9:54 pm Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The first installment of Pick 5 focused on the best offensive playmakers from around Pike County. This go-around it is all about defense. The Troy area possesses some of the finest defensive talent in the state of Alabama, and each one have the ability to change a game on any snap.


Kamari Jackson, Pike County: Jackson led resurgence for the Pike County defense in 2013. The Dawgs made the playoffs for the first time in five years, and the held opponents to 20 points per game. While the number doesn’t sound that great, it is a full 10 points per game lower than the 2012 average.

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Jackson will patrol the secondary for the Bulldogs this year, and has the ability to intercept any pass thrown his direction. And when Jackson takes one away, don’t be surprised to see him turn on the jets and take it to the house. Jackson may not be a household name now, but by the end of the 2014 season, his name will be on the big boards of a few colleges.

Coby Smith, Charles Henderson: It is rare to see a defensive lineman dominate opposing offenses, but Smith has all the tools to do so. He will float from his natural defensive tackle spot, out to defensive end and may even line up on the guard or center from time to time. Smith has the speed to play end, the instinct to read and react at the defensive tackle spot and the brute strength and force required to play on the middle of the defensive front.

He also has great open field speed for a big man, as shown by his 40-plus yard fumble return for a touchdown last year against UMS-Wright. Smith has drawn interest from several major colleges, and the list will only grow in the future.

Demario Harris, Charles Henderson: Like Jackson, his counterpart from Brundidge, Harris oozes ball hawk. During last year’s run to the Alabama High School Athletic Association championship game, Harris picked off eight passes and returned one for a touchdown. The eight interceptions were second on the team, trailing only West Alabama signee, and All-State player, Taderion Myhand.

Harris returns for his senior year bigger, faster and stronger than he was a year ago. Expect him to pick off his fair share of passes, and up his tackle numbers.

Isaac Nickson, Pike County: Isaac Nickson is the first person you notice when watching game film of Pike County. Nickson, all 6 feet-4 inches and 255 pounds of him, has been a terror on the gridiron for the last several seasons.

Nickson has a knack for making plays when it matters most. In Pike County’s upset win over Trinity in the first round of the AHSAA playoffs, Nickson accounted for six tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and a pass break up. He will draw double teams in 2014, which could open his teammates to wreak havoc in the backfield.

Richard McBryde, Charles Henderson: There is a very good reason why Richard McBryde is the most sought after linebacker in the state of Alabama: he is just that good. McBryde’s 2013 season was one for the ages, as he racked up 163 tackles, 37.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, one interception and three forced fumbles. The Alabama Sports Writers Association also named him as the 4A Lineman of the Year.

McBryde has a nose for the football, and is seemingly always in the right spot. He has changed games in the past, and will certainly do it again.