Adding another layer to its towering preseason hype, the Plant football team has been ranked No. 6 in the nation in the preseason USA Today national Super 25 rankings.
It's the lastest national ranking for the Panthers, who are ranked No. 1 by Rivals.com and No. 2 by ESPN.
Plant went 13-1 last year, winning the Class 5A state champinship, the Panthers' third state title in four years. The Panthers return just four starters, but three of them are top Division I commitments -- RB/DE James Wilder Jr. (Florida State), QB Phillip Ely (Alabama) and OT Tony Posada (Michigan).
USA Today ranks two Plant opponents in the top 10. Week 3 opponent, Abilene (Texas), is third in the nation. Bradenton Manatee, the team the Panthers beat in the 5A final and also play Friday in their preseason game, is ranked eighth in the nation. Both of those games will be televised nationally by ESPN.
Four Florida schools are ranked in the top 25. Besides Plant and Manatee, Miami Central is ranked second and Belle Glade Glades Central is ranked 21st.
USA Today's rankings are compiled by staff writer Jim Halley, based on questionnaires and discussions from coaches and discussions with various media. He considers strength of schedule, recent success and players. USA Today will release its firs regular-season rankings on Aug. 31.
-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA (firstname.lastname@example.org)