If the class of 2014 was defined by its size, the class of 2015 may be defined by its stealth.
Sure, you still have the beef, like Plant offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen (6-5, 280) and Armwood defensive lineman Byron Cowart (6-4, 250). But scanning the list of Tampa Bay’s top football prospects for the upcoming season, you are stuck by the speed.
The potential for playmaking.
“This class,’’ says Sickles running back Ray Ray McCloud III, “has a lot of athletes in it.”
While the Tampa Bay Times’ final 2014 rankings are headed up by East Lake receiver Artavis Scott, offensive linemen occupied five of the next six spots. Of 25 players ranked, nine are hogs who opened holes to the tune of thousands and thousands of rushing yards.
Two others played defensive line, and six were linebackers.
Where’s the beef? There’s the beef.
Then consider the players we expect to be the stars of the 2015 class.
Our top 25 is led by East Lake receiver George Campbell, one of the fastest and most recruited players because of his size (6-3, 184), speed (clocked at various combines at 4.35-4.4) and versatility (is he a pass catcher? A pass rusher? A pass defender?).
ESPN ranks the former Michigan commitment the second-best junior prospect. Rivals ranks him No. 7, Scout has him No. 16 and 247Sports puts him at No. 26.
In Tampa Bay, there is little argument — with the exception of those in Seffner, where a good case can be made for Cowart — that Campbell is the most sought-after recruit.
McCloud is a 2,300-yard rusher and coveted as a defensive back as well, and we ranked him No. 4, though the national recruiting services don’t see it that way.
The galloping Gryphon is joined in the top 10 by Tampa Bay Tech athlete Deon Cain, Hillsborough quarterback Dwayne Lawson,
Wharton wide receiver Auden Tate, and Lakewood quarterback Ryan Davis is No. 11.
Cain — who plays quarterback at TBT but will be a wideout in college — and Tate are big receivers, and two of the hottest names this offseason.
That’s a whole lot of offensive firepower, even if McCloud, Cain and Davis don’t play the positions in high school they are projected to in college.
As a group, the offensive stars of the 2015 HomeTeam top 25 have almost 100 offers, with many more to come.
While typically balanced with a little bit of everything, every class is different. Sometimes a certain position stands out.
In 2012, pass rushers like Dante Fowler, Tyriq McCord, Jeremi Powell and Eric Striker dominated the top of the list.
Quarterbacks (Robert Marve, Stephen Garcia, L.D. Crow, Alton Voss) dominated the list in 2007, wide receivers (Johnny Peyton, Jermain Filer, Brandon Williams) in 2004, and sometimes even kickers find their way on the list, like 1994 when Jesuit’s Jay Feely and Pasco’s Brent Locklier made it.
And while the top of this year’s list seems dominated by big, versatile playmakers, others shine as well.
We argued about Nos. 2 and 3 when it came to Fruhmorgen and Cowart. Lithe Freedom lineman Scott Patchan is at No. 6, and Nature Coast Tech offensive lineman Christian Pellage is No. 7.
There are sleepers, like Pasco linebacker Bowman Archibald (though we couldn’t resist putting him in the top 10), Largo linebacker Jonathan Crawford and Robinson wide receiver Jahrvis Davenport, who could climb this list.
Players like East Bay lineman Marques Ford, Wiregrass Ranch linebacker Jaye Miner and Lakewood defensive back Sekendric Biddines are the only ones listed without offers, but we’re guessing that changes soon.
And who’s to say guys like Pinellas Park receiver/cornerback Rashaan Watson, Admiral Farragut cornerback Isadore Wood or Clearwater Central Catholic quarterback Jeff Smith — none of whom we have currently ranked — don’t beat them to it.
One thing is certain: it should be another banner year for Tampa Bay, which is in the midst of a superb run of great recruiting classes.
John C. Cotey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @JohnnyHomeTeam.
HomeTeam top 25 for 2015
Name, school Position Ht/Wt Offers
1. George Campbell, East Lake ATH 6-3/184 Clemson, Florida, FSU, Michigan
2. Jake Fruhmorgen, Plant OL 6-5/280 Florida, Alabama, FSU, Tennessee
3. Byron Cowart, Armwood DL 6-4/250 Auburn, Florida, Oregon, Alabama
4. Ray Ray McCloud III, Sickles RB/DB 5-10/174 Florida, Clemson, Ohio State, Wisconsin
5. Deon Cain, TB Tech ATH 6-3/192 Florida, FSU, Ohio State, Miami
6. Scott Patchan, Freedom DE 6-6/225 Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State
7. Christian Pellage, Nature Coast OL 6-7/275 Miami, USF, UCF
8. Bowman Archibald, Pasco LB 6-6/240 Florida, USF, Tennessee, Kentucky
9. Auden Tate, Wharton WR 6-4/195 Michigan State, FSU, Louisville
10. Dwayne Lawson, Hillsborough QB 6-5/205 Mississippi State, USF
11. Ryan Davis, Lakewood ATH 5-10, 170 FSU, Arizona, Mississippi State, USF
12. Aaron Covington, Armwood DB 5-9/175 UCF, Cincinnati, Toledo
13. Jonathan Crawford, Largo S/LB 6-2/175 Indiana, Middle Tennessee, UCF
14. Carson Lydon, East Lake LB 6-2/235 USF, UCF, Boston College
15. Jordan Griffin, Armwood LB 6-0, 207 Marshall, UCF
16. Damian King, Indian Rocks Christian ATH 5-10/170 West Virginia
17. Brad Mayes, Berkeley Prep QB 6-2/192 UMass, Akron
18. Billy Atterbury, CCC OL 6-4/275 Cincinnati, FIU
19. Derrick Baity, Plant DB 6-2/170 USF, UCF
20. Nate Ferguson, Gaither DB 5-9/160 South Alabama
21. Marques Ford, East Bay DL 6-4/220
22. Jahrvis Davenport, Robinson WR 5-9/175 Marshall, Tulane, FIU
23. Andrew Ivie, Pasco OL/DL 6-3/260 USF
24. Jaye Miner, Wiregrass Ranch LB 6-3/200
25. Sekendric Biddines, Lakewood WR/DB 5-11/160
Note: Some recruits have double-digit offers; this is a sampling.