TAMPA — Everyone wants to help Berkeley Prep running back Nelson Agholor make his college choice.
Even Joe Toph, who presented Agholor with the Hillsborough County equivalent of the Heisman at the fall sports awards Thursday morning, and county athletic director Lanness Robinson.
“You know, Florida is a great school,” Toph said to the tune of laughter from the audience seated in the downtown school board auditorium. “Beautiful, great tradition, avid, rabid fan base. It has an $85 million athletic budget, and it has won 265 team and individual national championships. Oh, and did I mention that 60 percent of the student body is female?”
After Agholor, who is considering Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Southern California, received the Guy Toph trophy, named after Joe’s father, Robinson came back to the microphone to make his closing remarks.
“What (Toph) failed to realize was that I graduated from Florida State, and I have the mic last. We have 65 percent females,” said Robinson, to even more laughter.
Agholor is the Bucs’ second recipient of the award, joining QB Brett Zinober (1992). He finished his senior season with 1,983 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns, leading Berkeley Prep to the Class 3A state semifinals. He also had 35 tackles and three interceptions as a cornerback, returning eight punts for an average of more than 32 yards.
Guy Toph, the namesake of the 73-year-old award that is given annually to the top senior football player, played at Hillsborough in the 1920s before transferring to Plant for his junior year. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Toph went on to the University of Florida, where he played on the offensive and defensive lines.
Other award winners Thursday included:
• Armwood senior Cody Waldrop received the Jimbo Kynes Outstanding Lineman Award, given to the county’s top offensive or defensive lineman. Waldrop, who was named to the first-team, all-state team three times, paved the way for the Hawks’ running game, which averaged 255 yards last season en route to the Class 6A state championship. He will play at South Carolina next season.
• The other area state championship football team, Plant, took home the football team GPA award for the third straight year with an unweighted, combined 3.134 average.
• Plant volleyball (3.599), girls cross country (3.828) girls swimming (3.517) teams also took the academic awards for their respective sports.
• Newsome boys cross county (3.551), Blake boys swimming (3.500), Robinson boys golf (3.360) and Sickles girls golf (3.634) took home the rest of the academic awards for fall sports.
• Berkeley Prep senior Jordan Burgess, the most decorated high school volleyball player in state history, won the Kirkwood Volleyball Award. She led the Bucs to their third straight state championship and was named the Gatorade national high school player of the year this month. She will attend Stanford next year.
• Spoto senior Giorgie Graves and Jesuit senior Chris Swanson won the Jessie Helfrich Hicks Award as the top female and male swimmers in the county.
Graves, who has committed to Garner-Webb, finished in the top four in the 50 and 100 freestyle events at the Class 2A state championships in November.
Swanson, who has qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 1500 freestyle, is the first two-time winner of the award since Thomas Pollock of Plant City won for the second time in 2001.
• Madison Opfer, a senior from Durant, and Tyler Weed, the valedictorian from King, received the Casey Most Valuable Golfer Award. Opfer finished in the top 10 at the state tournament all four years and will play at Tulane next year. Weed was the 2010 Class 2A, District 10 champion.
• Seniors Max del Monte and Danielle Kissel, of Chamberlain and Plant, respectively, won the Dr. Ben Walker Cross Country Awards. Kissel was the No. 1 runner for the back-to-back Class 4A state champion Panthers and will run at the University of Tampa next season. Del Monte finished second in the Class 3A state championship meet in November and has committed to Florida State.