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Traveon Freeman: “Panther on the Prowl”

By Barry Every
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Last season the 6-foot-2, 230-pound defensive end Traveon Freeman led the team with 78 solo tackles while racking up 25 TFL’s, 5.5 sacks, four QBH’s and two FF.

For nearly 20 years Hinesville (Ga.) Liberty County was just another Coastal Georgia high school football team used as fodder by traditional powers during the regular season. That has all changed over the last five years as Coach Kirk Warner has led his team to four winning seasons with three playoff appearances. The 19 total wins over the last two seasons are the most in any two year span.

In that time Liberty County has also produced some of the top prospects in the Peach State. Just this past April former Panther linebacker Raekwon McMillan was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. Last year two-way standout Richard LeCounte, III was one of the most coveted defensive backs in the country, eventually signing with the Georgia Bulldogs. In the class of 2018 defensive tackle Tramel Walthour has seen his recruitment explode with over a dozen FBS offers.

But Walthour is not the only defensive difference maker in the class of 2018 for Liberty County. Last season the 6-foot-2, 230-pound defensive end Traveon Freeman led the team with 78 solo tackles while racking up 25 TFL’s, 5.5 sacks, four QBH’s and two FF. His effort did not go unnoticed being honored as the team’s Most Valuable Defensive Player.

“Traveon is a quiet kid, he is all business like,” Warner said. “He is a hard working kid, but when he gets between the lines he’s a straight up football player. I think whoever signs him will be getting someone better than they imagined. Last year he was our best overall defensive player; he was a straight up stud for us.”

Freeman has been a member of the Panther varsity squad his entire high school career; coming into last season he had already accumulated over 70 tackles, 10 TFL’s and four sacks. He currently has a 3.0 GPA and is scheduled to take the ACT for the first time June, 10. Football is the only sport that he currently participates in giving up basketball to concentrate on his true love – football.

He currently has offers from Chattanooga, Eastern Kentucky, Mercer and Samford. Freeman also claims strong interest from Georgia Southern, Georgia State and Wake Forest.

“Everyone that has offered is looking at me as a potential outside linebacker,” Freeman said. “The whole Mercer staff is doing a great job recruiting me right now, especially lead recruiter Will Patterson. They stay in constant contact and talk about more things than just football, they spend time talking about things in life that really matter.”

The hybrid DE/OLB position has become one of the sought after football bodies in the country. Pass rushers are always at a premium. But also possessing the ability to play the flats versus the popular spread offenses, which taken over the college landscape, has become a necessity. With these skills in his repertoire Freeman should see his stock as a prospect escalate.

This spring Freeman was unable to attend any national camps due to a knee contusion, but he has already attended Mercer and Georgia Tech one-day camps on the college circuit. He plans on attending several others once he coordinates the dates with the schools showing the most interest.

Last year’s Liberty County team finished (11-2/5-0) capturing their first Region Title in school history while making their deepest run ever in the GHSA playoffs. Matching those numbers in 2018 could be difficult with the loss of LeCounte and prolific dual-threat quarterback Jaalon Frazier. The pair combined for over 5,000 yards of total offense.

“Traveon has to play his role on our defense for us to be successful,” Warner said. “When they run his way he’ll just have to make plays, if he has the same kind of season he had last year there will be no drop off.”

Can this quiet leader with serious football aggression guide his team to a successful season, and perhaps another Region Championship?

“Yeah I’m working on becoming a better leader especially with the younger guys that have moved up to varsity,” Freeman said. “I’m going to play my part at defensive end, but if they need me on the offensive side of the ball I will definitely do it. I feel like we have a really good team coming back, we just have to keep working hard.”

Freeman will next be in action August, 25 versus crosstown rival Hinesville (Ga.) Bradwell Institute. But the game that all college recruiters should mark on their calendar is September, 7 versus an extremely talented Savannah (Ga.) Jenkins squad. Though it is a non-region matchup both schools are considered favorites in their respective GHSA-AAA Regions.