Sunday, January 21, 2018
Colleges

With three Tampa Bay area standouts, Clemson set for Alabama

GLENDALE, Ariz. — To many local prepubescents, Raymond James Stadium is Mecca, a hallowed site of one youth football championship or another. Artavis Scott, Pinellas County native, spent a childhood trying to get there as a player instead of a patron.

He never succeeded.

"My teams weren't good enough," he acknowledged.

But his current one is. In the waning minutes of 2016, he still was trying to process that reality.

"Oh man," the Clemson junior receiver said. "It's unreal."

The College Football Playoff championship game suddenly has a local story line … in triplicate.

Scott, an East Lake alumnus, joins fellow Tigers receivers Ray-Ray McCloud (Sickles) and Deon Cain (Tampa Bay Tech) as former bay area high school stars who get Alabama for a homecoming opponent at RayJay next Monday night. A fourth local, Tigers offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen (Plant), is away from the team for personal reasons. A fifth, wide receiver TJ Chase (Plant City), is a redshirt freshman.

"It's big, man," said McCloud, a sophomore who exited Sickles as Hillsborough County's all-time rushing leader (Jesuit's Malik Davis has since surpassed him).

"Looking at my phone, just a lot of people hitting me up, 'You comin' home,' this and that. I only played in Raymond James once in my whole life, and I'm from there."

Should No. 3 Clemson (13-1) upset the top-ranked Crimson Tide (14-0) in a rematch of last season's title game, it would become the third national champion with at least three bay area players on its two-deep roster since Florida in 2008 (FSU had three in 2013).

Scott and Cain have played in all 14 games this season, McCloud in 12. Cain, suspended for last season's playoffs for an unspecified team-rules violation, had a 9-yard reception on third and 5 on the second scoring drive of Saturday's 31-0 romp over Ohio State in a national semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl.

Having partially redeemed himself, he spent the aftermath figuratively pinching himself in a University of Phoenix Stadium locker room.

"It's always a dream come true," Cain said, "to come play on a big stage in your hometown."

All are scheduled to arrive Friday in Tampa with least 33 catches, led by Scott's 73. His two against the Buckeyes gave him a school-record 242 for his career. He entered that game tied for that mark with Sammy Watkins.

It was Scott's second milestone in two weeks. He earned a communications degree in less than three years and participated in commencement ceremonies just before arriving in Arizona. In the immediate wake of Saturday's triumph, he said he hasn't decided whether he will make himself eligible for the 2017 NFL draft.

All he knows for sure is he's heading home to the hallowed confines on Dale Mabry. The dream he never realized as a grade-schooler has been attained as a graduate.

"I remember losing last year (to Alabama)," Scott said. "And when I found out we (could) make it to Tampa, that's been on my mind, man, just to get back home and play in front of my hometown."

Contact Joey Knight at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

Comments
Florida wins big SEC showdown with Kentucky

Florida wins big SEC showdown with Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Jalen Hudson came off the bench to score 17, and Chris Chiozza, Keith Stone and Kevarrius Hayes contributed clutch baskets down the stretch as Florida rallied to upset No. 18 Kentucky 66-64 Saturday night. "We were able to win it jus...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Gary Trent, Duke rally past Miami with 18-0 run

Gary Trent, Duke rally past Miami with 18-0 run

CORAL GABLES — Gary Trent scored a season-high 30 and No. 5 Duke needed less than three minutes to erase a 13-point second-half deficit, scoring 18 consecutive points to overtake No. 25 Miami 83-75 on Monday night. The Blue Devils scored 15 in six po...
Published: 01/15/18

Shrine Game journal: Homecoming for Utah OL Salesi Uhatafe; Quinton Flowers works on snaps

ST. PETERSBURG — Salesi Uhatafe is back in his hometown, and though he moved to Texas when he was still a baby, it’s very much a homecoming as the former Utah offensive lineman plays in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field."I’ll probab...
Published: 01/15/18
Iowa State’s two-way star Joel Lanning practicing at linebacker for East-West Shrine Game

Iowa State’s two-way star Joel Lanning practicing at linebacker for East-West Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG — Joel Lanning has the unique distinction of being listed as an "LB/QB" on the West roster for Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field.And while the former Iowa State star spent the entire practice at middle linebacker Mond...
Published: 01/15/18
Keith Jackson, leading college football broadcaster, dies at 89

Keith Jackson, leading college football broadcaster, dies at 89

Keith Jackson, the folksy voice of college football who for decades weaved backwoods wit through Saturday afternoon ABC broadcasts, died Friday night. He was 89.In a 52-year broadcasting career, Mr. Jackson covered a wide variety of sports for radio ...
Published: 01/13/18
No. 24 FSU outlasts Syracuse in double overtime

No. 24 FSU outlasts Syracuse in double overtime

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State squandered a double-digit halftime lead for the second straight game. This time, it was able to overcome that.The 23rd-ranked Seminoles scored the first six in the second overtime to propel them to a 101-90 victory over Sy...
Published: 01/13/18

Florida manhandled in paint by Ole Miss for first SEC loss

OXFORD, Miss. — Florida came into its matchup focused on stopping a talented group of Ole Miss guards.But it was the play of the frontcourt that did in the Gators on Saturday afternoon.Bruce Stevens scored 22, Deandre Burnett added 20 and Mississippi...
Published: 01/13/18
South Carolina gives Will Muschamp new $28 million deal

South Carolina gives Will Muschamp new $28 million deal

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Will Muschamp received a new six-year, $28.2 million contract after a nine-win season that culminated with a victory over Michigan in the Outback Bowl. Muschamp’s contract was approved Friday by the school’s boar...
Published: 01/12/18
Jones: March Madness is weeks away. What’s up with college basketball?

Jones: March Madness is weeks away. What’s up with college basketball?

We’ve been a little busy lately.What with Dirk Koetter staying and Evan Longoria going. We’ve been distracted by UCF and amazed by Alabama. There has been Jon Gruden news and what is shaping up to be a very special season for the Lightning.With all t...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Bobby Bowden: Dadgum it, UCF has a gripe

Bobby Bowden: Dadgum it, UCF has a gripe

Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden is 88 and still keeps a busy schedule of speaking engagements. On Wednesday he was in Omaha, Neb. — his fourth city in a week — to receive the Tom Osborne Legacy Award for his contributions to college football ...
Published: 01/11/18