The 2022-2023 USA Today HSSA Defensive Football Player of the Year watch list was released Friday, Sept. 9, and one of Buford’s own was named to that list. Junior Khalil “KJ” Bolden was among 50 student-athletes to make the initial list, which could be narrowed down by this winter.

The initial watch list includes athletes who were selected based upon last year’s season-wide performance, state championships and any other state, regional and/or national recognition or were nominees in last year’s national awards show.

This winter, the official 2022-23 USA Today HSSA Defensive Football Team will be announced. All the players who make this list will be honored as nominees for the national Defensive Football Player of the Year award. The award winner, along with three finalists, will be announced during the third annual USA Today High School Sports Awards next summer.

Bolden is among six other athletes from Georgia on the watch list, including Sammy Brown, Jefferson High School (Jefferson); Vic Burley, Warner Robins High School (Warner Robins); Caleb Downs, Mill Creek High School (Hoschton); Myles Graham, Woodward Academy (Atlanta) and Kayin Lee, Cedar Grove High School (Ellenwood). To view the full list of athletes who made the watch list, click here.

Bolden is considered a five-star recruit and is ranked No. 4 nationally, No. 1 in Georgia regardless of position in the Class of 2024 by 247 Sports. The 6-foot-one, 182-pound athlete is a force on the field who can play numerous positions well, including wide receiver and safety. Bolden has received more than 40 college offers and has made official visits to Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Tennessee. So far, Bolden has visited Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs five times, making them his most visited college so far.

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