Our second annual countdown of the top 100 football players in Tampa Bay — compiled after a spring and summer of evaluating talent, and a couple of brawls between staffers.
Class, school: Sr., Northeast
Ht/wt: 5-10, 185
Breakdown: As a junior, Harrington rushed for 681 yards and three touchdowns and added 691 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. This season, he’ll play an even bigger role after eight players recently transferred out of the program, including starting quarterback Ryan Davis. Harrington will “do a little running back, a little quarterback, a little wildcat,” and possibly even contribute in the defensive secondary.
Class, school: Jr., Armwood
Ht/wt: 5-9, 176
Breakdown: Perhaps the strongest indicator of Covington’s athleticism occurred last spring, when he essentially high jumped himself — plus 2 or 3 more inches — to reach the Class 3A state meet. In the wake of a broken arm that sidelined him for half of the 2012 season, he has excelled this summer, earning defensive MVP honors at the 16-team Battle of the Bay 7-on-7 tournament in June. His firm offers, he says, are UCF and Toledo.
Class, school: Jr., Plant
Ht/wt: 6-5, 278
Breakdown: Fruhmorgen seems well on his way to following in the footsteps of his father, John Fruhmorgen, a former NFL lineman and star at Alabama and Jesuit. His stock skyrocketed over the past few months, starting with his first offer from Washington State in early May. Since then, Fruhmorgen has landed at least 15 more offers, including Florida, Florida State and Alabama. If he delivers on his promise this fall, Fruhmorgen will be one of the nation’s most highly sought-after recruits in the class of 2015.
Class, school: Sr., Chamberlain
Ht/wt: 5-10, 200
Breakdown: Davis has emerged as a leader in the Chiefs’ locker room and one of the area’s most sought-after defensive players He entered the preseason with 13 offers. Depending on which college he has visited, he has been projected anywhere from safety to corner to linebacker. Frequently unblockable off the edge, he ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at Wake Forest.
Class, school: Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic
Ht/wt: 5-10, 175
Breakdown: Walker isn’t one of the more high-profile running backs in Tampa Bay — he does hold offers from Akron and Ball State — but he has been one of the most productive. The Marauder rushed for 1,161 yards and 15 touchdowns last year, and with a bigger and better CCC line to run behind, should do even better this fall for his state-contending team.
Class, school: Sr., Jefferson
Ht/wt: 6-3, 210
Breakdown: After struggling with injuries for much of 2012 - he had eight sacks in only six games — Brown hopes to close out his high school career with a season worthy of his potential. He’ll need to fortify a defense that plays opposite one of the area’s most explosive offenses — as per usual. Brown committed to USF in July over nearly a half-dozen offers from other schools including Louisville, Kentucky and Illinois.
Class, school: Jr., Armwood
Ht/wt: 6-0, 207
Breakdown: Endowed with equal parts sturdiness, strength (485-pound squat) and smarts (4.8 weighted GPA), Griffin led the Hawks with 120 tackles as a sophomore and already has earned a captaincy before the first snap of his junior year. He broke his left leg in last year’s playoffs and currently is nursing a nagging foot ailment, but figures to equal or surpass his 2012 numbers.
Class, school: Sr., Plant City
Ht/wt: 6-3, 209
Breakdown: Despite King’s firm commitment to UCF, other Division I programs such as Wisconsin and Wake Forest remain in pursuit of this rangy edge rusher. Ranked the nation’s 59th-best weak-side end by 247Sports, King and classmate John Broome (No. 86 on this list) should form one of the area’s top defensive-line bookends.
Class, school: Sr., Gibbs
Ht/wt: 6-2, 190
Breakdown: Just three games into last season, Hall was shot in the stomach and missed the final seven games. Now fully healthy, he will make an impact at receiver and linebacker. Prior to his injury, Hall averaged 25.3 yards per catch and had 16 tackles. Hall accepted an offer from USF in the spring.
Class, school: Sr., Gaither
Ht/wt: 6-3, 198
Breakdown: An FIU commit, McGough possesses all of the attributes found in most blue-chip quarterbacks: strong arm, a feel for the game, experience and confidence. He’ll need to put it all together this fall, as the Cowboys lost almost all of their surrounding skill position talent via graduation. Thus it might be tough for him to duplicate last year’s stat line: 1,727 yards passing, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Class, school: Sr., Lakewood
Ht/wt: 5-10, 170
Breakdown: Ellison is the Spartans’ most versatile player on offense. Like Rodney Adams last year, Ellison will be the wildcat player and the main target for new quarterback Ryan Davis. He’ll also run the ball and perhaps play quarterback in short-yardage situations. He can catch, run and throw, and coach Cory Moore will take advantage.