With the month of August quickly approaching, now is as good a time as ever to look forward to the upcoming high school football season in Baltimore.

Baltimore has a rich tradition of talented high school football players, not only from schools in the city but also from the surrounding metro area. The list stretches from 50s-era Hall of Fame lineman Rosey Brown to former Packers legend Antonio Freeman to Aaron Maybin, a first round draft pick in 2009.

In this post, we’ll take a look at a few stars in the Charm City area to keep an eye on this Fall.

1. Cyrus Jones, Senior, Gilman: The reason I don’t list a specific position here for Jones is because he can and likely will play almost every skill position for the Gilman Greyhounds this season. After playing in the shadow of All-American Darius Jennings last season, the 5’10” stud is expected to be the top player in the Baltimore area this season. Gilman’s offense will be based around Jones, whether he’s taking the snaps at quarterback or receiving handoffs and pitches at running back. On defense, Jones will be featured mostly at cornerback, but his versatility could sometimes have him end up at safety or even an outside linebacker position.

Jones is getting a lot of hype on the recruiting circuit as well. ESPN ranks him as the 35th-best 2012 prospect in the country and the 4th-best athlete in his class. Rivals lists 29 schools as offering a scholarship to the Greyhounds’ star, and according to ESPN, he is considering Auburn, Penn State, Alabama, Oregon, and Virginia. If Jones were to choose Virginia, he’d be reunited with his former teammate Jennings.

Deontay McManus (#4) is arguably the best football player at a public school in all of Maryland (Photo cred VSN).

2. DeonTay McManus, Senior, Wide Receiver/Defensive Back, Dunbar: It’s a two-horse race between Jones and McManus when discussing the best player in Baltimore. A West Virginia commit, McManus is listed at 6’2″ and 215 pounds, and is an incredible athletic specimen. Playing in a run-heavy system, the Dunbar star only caught 25 passes for the Poets last year, but five of them went for touchdowns. Defensively, he’s arguably the best in the area as well, putting up 88 tackles last season to go along with four interceptions. Versatile enough to play corner, safety, or even linebacker, McManus is known as one of the hardest hitters in the state. Look for him to lead his loaded Dunbar team to their fifth state title in the last six years.

3. Ian Thomas, Senior, Wide Receiver, Franklin: Also an outstanding defensive back for Franklin, Thomas is arguably the best player in Baltimore County. At 6’1″ and 190 pounds, he’s bigger than most guys who cover him, but what really stands out about Thomas is his athleticism. He has breakaway speed, running a 4.5 40-yard dash, and has never met a defensive back he can’t jump over to catch a pass.

Last year, Thomas saw double teams throughout the season and still managed to catch 50 passes for 953 yards and 15 touchdowns, helping his Franklin Indians team reach the 3A State Championship. Rivals lists him receiving 21 scholarship offers, with the seven front-runners being Boston College, Iowa, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Stanford, Vanderbilt, and his hometown Maryland Terrapins. He’s scheduled to visit Notre Dame in September.

Other Players to Watch (in no particular order):

  • Juleon Killikelly-Lee, QB/DB, Western Tech
  • Shawheem Dowdy, QB, New Town
  • Greg Pyke, DL/OL, Boys’ Latin
  • Henry Poggi, DL, Gilman
  • Charles Tapper, TE/DE, City
  • Da’Quan Davis, DB, Calvert Hall
  • Roman Braglio, DE, McDonogh (UMD Commit)
  • Devon Porchia, LB, Gilman
  • James Staten, WR, Loch Raven
  • Donovan Riley, WR/DB, Poly
  • Garrett Keene, RB, Calvert Hall
  • Steve Manders, FB/LB, Archbishop Spalding
  • Kenny Goins, RB/DL, Gilman
  • Thomas Stuart, QB, Calvert Hall
  • Travis Jenkins, RB, Kenwood
  • Allen Jackson, DE, McDonogh

Look for more coverage of local high school football on BSR throughout the Summer and Fall.

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Follow Edgar Walker on Twitter.