Saturday, December 16, 2017

College Football Playoff: All-time Tampa Bay college teams

Some of the top players in the country will be in town for Monday's College Football Playoff national title game at Raymond James Stadium. Consider it payback for all of the top talent the Tampa Bay area's fields have produced and sent to programs across the country. With that in mind, we've compiled the best players from Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties to form our all-time Tampa Bay college teams. Note: We only considered collegiate success, and all candidates had to play at least one season at a local high school.

First team


Times files

Mike Pearson

OL Mike Pearson, Armwood (Florida)

Two-time all-SEC pick, All-American in 2001, Jags second-round pick in '02

OL Shannon Snell, Hillsborough (Florida)

Started 36 games with the Gators and earned 2003 All-America status from the Sporting News

C Forrest Blue, Chamberlain (Auburn)

Starred with the Tigers before becoming an All-Pro with the 49ers


Mason Cole

OL Mason Cole, East Lake (Michigan)

First Wolverine to start his first game as a true freshman on the offensive line and has started every game since

OL Mike Heldt, Leto (Notre Dame)

Starting center for three years, including the Fighting Irish's 1988 national championship season

TE Orson Charles, Plant (Georgia)

All-SEC pick was a finalist for the Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end in 2011

Times files

Aaron Murray

QB Aaron Murray, Plant (Georgia)

Holds SEC career records with 921 completions, 13,166 passing yards and 121 touchdowns

RB Dexter McCluster, Largo (Ole Miss)

Current Charger's 4,089 all-purpose yards were the second-most in Rebels history. He and SMU's Doak Walker are the Cotton Bowl's only back-to-back offensive MVPs

RB Larry Smith, Robinson (Florida)

Earned all-SEC honors in three consecutive years and left as the Gators' career leader with 2,186 yards before becoming the Rams' No. 8 overall pick

WR Mike Jenkins, Leto (Ohio State)

The Buckeyes' all-time leader in receiving yards (2,898) won a national title in 2002 before nine years in the NFL

AP photo

Artavis Scott

WR Artavis Scott, East Lake (Clemson)

Three-time all-ACC honoree is in his second national title game and holds the Tigers' record with 242 career catches


Times files

David Galloway

DL David Galloway, Brandon (Florida)

Earned All-America consideration in 1981 and still ranks in the top 10 in Gators history with 21 career sacks

DL Jerome Brown, Hernando (Miami)

A consensus All-American in 1986 and part of the Hurricanes' swaggering dynasty before becoming a top-10 draft pick

DL Marty Lyons, St. Petersburg Catholic (Alabama)

Consensus first-team All-American on Tide's 1978 national title team; 202 career tackles

Times files

Ryan Pickett

DL Ryan Pickett, Zephyrhills (Ohio State)

14-year NFL vet and Super Bowl champ was a three-year starter with the Buckeyes before turning pro

LB Eric Striker, Armwood (Oklahoma)

Two-time all-Big 12 talent was one of the nation's hardest hitters and led the Sooners to last year's College Football Playoff

LB Steve Kiner, Hillsborough (Tennessee)

College Football Hall of Famer led the Vols to two SEC titles; Bear Bryant called him the best linebacker of his era

LB Maurice Crum, Hillsborough (Miami)

Times files

Maurice Crum

Led the 'Canes in tackles in 1988, '89 and '90 and won two national titles

CB Scott Wingfield, Pasco (Vanderbilt)

Still holds the Commodores' single-season record with eight interceptions in 1973

CB Vernon Hargreaves, Wharton (Florida)

Three-time all-SEC pick was an All-American in 2015 and became a focal point of the Bucs' defense as a rookie

S Ted Watts, Tarpon Springs (Texas Tech)

Two-time all-Southwest Conference talent was inducted into the Red Raiders' Hall of Fame in November

S Pat Terrell, Lakewood (Notre Dame)

Saved the Irish's perfect season and 1988 national title by breaking up a pass in the famed Catholics vs. Convicts game

Special teams

PK Allan Leavitt, Hernando (Georgia)

Set then-SEC record with six career FGs of 50-plus yards; hit 33-yard winner vs. Ga. Tech in fog

P Sean Liss, Boca Ciega (FSU)

Posted 42.9-yard career average, honorable mention All-American in 1995

LS Garrison Sanborn, Jesuit (Florida State)

Flawless in 32 games at FSU, and an eight-year veteran with the Buffalo Bills

KR Janarion Grant, Pasco (Rutgers)

No one in NCAA history has scored more touchdowns from punt and kickoff returns than Grant (eight, combined)

PR Javier Arenas, Robinson (Alabama)

An All-American on the 2009 national title team with an SEC-record seven career touchdowns on punt returns

Second team


OL Jim Watson, Gulf (Florida)

Second-team all-SEC performer as a junior, first-teamer as a senior

OL Crawford Ker, Dunedin (Florida)

Juco transfer evolved into honorable-mention All-American, third-round NFL draft pick

C Jeff Mitchell, Countryside (Florida)

Three-year starter exited UF with four SEC titles, one national title. Played 118 NFL games

OL Chuck Pitcock, Gulf (Tulane)

Original Tampa Bay Bandit honored in 2013 as one of best Tulane linemen to play at Superdome

OL Mike Pucillo, Brandon (Auburn)

Started 25 consecutive games for the Tigers before spending six seasons as an NFL guard

TE Kirk Kirkpatrick, Brandon (Florida)

Career took off when Spurrier arrived. Became second-team All-American (55 catches) in 1990

QB Shaun King, Gibbs (Tulane)

Set NCAA pass-efficiency record in '98, when he led Tulane to 12-0 season and finished 10th in Heisman voting

RB Leon McQuay, Blake (Tampa)

UT's first black scholarship athlete scored 37 touchdowns and rushed for 3,039 yards and earned small college All-America honors twice in three seasons

RB Rick Casares, Jefferson (Florida)

Scored Gators' first touchdown in first bowl game, but his college career ended early when he was drafted to serve in Korean War

WR Andre Davis, Hillsborough (USF)

Bulls' career leader in receptions (153), yards (2,136) and touchdown catches (17)

WR Andre Caldwell, Jefferson (Florida)

Gators' career leader in receptions won a national title (2006), spent nearly a decade in NFL


DL Andrew Williams, Hillsborough (Miami)

Started five games on the dominant 2001 Hurricanes championship team regarded as the greatest collection of talent in NCAA history

DL Dante Fowler, Lakewood (Florida)

All-SEC talent had 34 tackles for a loss at UF before becoming the area's highest drafted NFL player ever (No. 3 to the Jaguars)

DL Tony Christiani, Brandon (Miami)

Consensus All-America pick in 1973 led the 'Canes with 15 sacks as a sophomore and 17 as a junior

DL Brodrick Bunkley, Chamberlain (FSU)

Second nationally in tackles for loss (25) as FSU senior. Registered nine sacks that same year

LB Scott Nicolas, Clearwater (Miami)

Still ranks third in 'Canes history with 456 career tackles

LB Bernard Clark, Leto (Miami)

Won two national titles with the 'Canes and was MVP of the Orange Bowl in January 1988

LB Darren Hambrick, Pasco (Florida/South Carolina)

North Suncoast legend was productive at both schools before an NFL career

CB Jack Burns, Leto (Florida)

Starred for the Gators in the late '60s before becoming a longtime college and NFL assistant

CB Lloyd Mumphord, Middleton (Texas Southern)

Spent nearly a decade in the NFL and was a member of the undefeated '72 Dolphins

S Selwyn Brown, Northeast (Miami)

Three-year starter with 211 career tackles and five interceptions won a national title with the 'Canes in 1987

S Tom Carter, Lakewood (Notre Dame)

Had 5 INTs each of last two seasons with Irish; third-team All-American in 1992

Special teams

PK Louie Zervos, Tarpon Springs (Ohio)

Only one year, but set an NCAA freshman record with 26 field goals this year

P Mattias Ciabatti, Hillsborough (USF)

Bulls' career leader in average (42.5 yards). Pinned five inside the 20 in one game

LS Ryan Benjamin, River Ridge (USF)

Played on the Bulls' inaugural team, later won a Super Bowl with the Bucs

KR Rodney Adams, Lakewood (USF)

6th in NCAA in return average (29.1 yards) in 2015; ranks 4th at USF in career all-purpose yards

PR Nelson Agholor, Berkeley Prep (USC)

Set Trojan record with four career punt return touchdowns and ranks in the top 10 in career catches and punt return yards

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