By Eduardo A. Encina and Joey Knight
As the 2010 prep football regular season approaches, the St. Petersburg Times will break down each position in the county. Today we take a look at defensive linemen.
Top defensive ends
1. James Wilder Jr., Plant: Though he has indicated in the past he intends to play running back in college, Wilder is a defensive coordinator’s dream. His blend of size (6-2, 215 pounds), speed and explosiveness make him a terror on the edge — either at end or outside linebacker. His 136 tackles last season included 19 sacks.
2. Anthony Chickillo, Alonso: Arguably the county’s No. 2 recruit behind Wilder, Chickillo (6-4, 235) possesses bloodlines (his dad played for Miami) and a proverbial motor that never stops. We see him only adding weight and technique at the next level.
3. Tyriq McCord, Jefferson: This 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior is fast off the line and quick into the backfield. On a defense full of great players, he just might be the most talented of the bunch. Need an example of his promise? He’s already received an oral offer from South Carolina.
4. David Tinsley, Armwood: Depending on the fronts Armwood uses, Tinsley could be a sturdy end or interior run stopper. A two-year starter with some small college offers, Tinsley (6-1, 240) had six sacks in 2009. He’ll anchor what projects as another daunting Hawks defensive front.
5. Josh Halferty, Durant: Though not as big as the others on this list, Halferty was no less effective in 2009, registering 7.5 sacks from the edge for an over-achieving Cougars front.
Top defensive tackles
1. Earl Moore, Hillsborough: Moore will be one of the county’s top prospects in the Class of 2011. With quick feet for his size (6-2, 255) and good hands, Moore can clog the middle and get in the backfield in a hurry. He already owns offers from Florida State, USF and South Carolina.
2. Matt Parker, Middleton: One of the reasons things are on the rise at Middleton. Parker gives the Tigers the defensive impact player they need, a two-way guy who can stop the run.
3. Angel Alvarez, Gaither: In addition to Alvarez’s size (6-1, 285) and run-stopping ability, colleges should consider his loyalty. At a program nearly decimated by transfers the past two years, Alvarez has remained a Cowboy.
Keep an eye on
1. Shelldon Lewinson, Armwood: A Jamaica native with sprinter’s speed and an imposing physique (6-2, 230), Lewinson, a nose tackle, steps in as the heir to all-Suncoast behemoth Man-Man Jackson. He’s still learning the game, but his potential appears boundless.
2. Jamario Belton, Spoto: A two-way starter since his freshman year, Belton (6-1, 255) is drawing small-college interest entering his final prep season. Last year, he was good for a half-dozen tackles a game.
3. Reggie Johnson, Hillsborough: This senior end (6-2, 220) came on at the end of last year with a pair of 2 1/2-sack games against Tampa Bay Tech and Largo.
Other stories in this series: