Posted On: 04/2/21 12:37 PM

Earlier this week we took a look at five freshmen that are already making an impact at the varsity level. Now we’ll flip sides of the ball and look at five freshmen making plays on defense.

Jaden Pierce Jaden Pierce 6'2" | DL Shelby | 2024 NC , 6’2 310, DT- Shelby

Pierce looks like the next in a long line of talented Shelby defenders. The school is known for putting out defensive linemen and has two top 2022 players on the roster already. Pierce wasn’t really a guy other teams expected to be a threat because of his age, but he’s putting together a fantastic season. He leads all freshmen in the state with eight tackles for loss and has three sacks as well. Pierce already possesses great size and shows an innate ability to hold the point of attack in the running game to open holes for the linebackers to make tackles.

Thomas Dobias Thomas Dobias 5'10" | LB Randleman | 2024 NC , 5’9 195, LB- Randleman

Dobias has put up excellent tackling numbers as a freshman at Randleman, sitting at 44 on the year, tied for second in the state among freshmen. The Tigers are undefeated, in large part due to a defense led by Dobias in the middle that is giving up just eight points a game. Dobias has great instincts and good acceleration off the ball to get around the edge on blitzes or beat the offensive linemen to the spot in the running game. As he continues to get bigger and stronger, he will be a player to watch over the next four years.

Javon Cowan Javon Cowan 5'10" | ATH Triton | 2024 NC , 5’10 170, Ath.- Triton

I almost put Cowan — who over 400 rushing yards — on this list for the offense, but instead put him on the defensive side of the ball, where he has two interceptions and four pass deflections from his defensive back position. He’s becoming more and more of a threat each week on both sides of the ball and he’s a guy more people should know about. He already has a pair of interceptions for Triton.

Billy Wilkes Billy Wilkes 6'1" | LB Providence | 2024 NC , 6’1 185, LB/SS- Providence

Wilkes is playing an increasingly important role on one of the surprise teams of the year, undefeated Providence. He shows good instincts to work his way through openings and make tackles and the coaching staff is already giving him the freedom to roam in or outside the box. He already possesses good size and speed and he should only get quicker and stronger for here. Each week he’s taking on more responsibility on defense and growing as a player, something I love to see from the young guys I cover.

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