Much has been made of the Newton Rams’ front seven strength and speed on defense and girth and power along the offensive line.
Just as much as been said about the talented tailback duo of senior running back Nuru Tinch and junior Adarius Thomas. Quietly, but confidently looming in the shadows, however, is senior quarterback Myron Middlebrooks.
The 6-foot-3, 195 pounder put up respectable numbers as a first year starter who only played in eight games. Middlebrooks completed 62 percent of his passes while throwing for 1,381 yards and 20 touchdown passes to just five interceptions.
Of course, he benefited from having a five-star wide receiver prospect in now-Georgia freshman J.J. Holloman. But Middlebrooks also dealt with some uncertainty as Newton largely employed a running back by committee approach, and was a little green up front.
It showed most in Region 8-AAAAAAA play, when Newton went a period of three games, starting with South Gwinnett on September 30, where it scored a combined 12 points and were shutout in two straight games at Archer and Grayson.
In some of the toughest struggles offensively, Middlebrooks either missed all or part of the games due to injury.
“In three of our losses, Myron Middlebrooks doesn’t play,” Banks said. “And when he didn’t play, we lost badly. When he’s in the game, our offense is different.”
So it must be exciting when Banks looks at Middlebrooks and sees that he’s noticeably bigger, faster and stronger, and is consistently making better decisions with the offense.
“He gets freedom now — and he’s earned this — to audible into play that he wants,” Banks said. “He’s become that kind of guy. We don’t want him to stop being him. Running, rolling out and making plays is what makes him a good high school quarterback. But we think he can be even more dangers with a stronger line and running game this year. It can allow him to stay in the pocket a little more.”
Middlebrooks will benefit from an offensive line featuring several players standing at 6-foot-2 or taller and weighing anywhere between 270 and 330 pounds. Then there’s Tinch who’s a pounder at running back and Thomas who’s more of a jitterbug. When those elements combine, Banks is looking for his signal caller to engineer a pretty potent offense.
“He’s able to see the field and make those decisions we ask him to now,” he said. “Last year it was just about running the playbook, but now it’s all about navigating the offense and knowing why he’s doing what he’s doing.”