Sunday, April 22, 2018
Sports

Class of 2015 marked by versatile, speedy playmakers

If the Class of 2014 is defined by its size, the Class of 2015 might be defined by its stealth.

Sure, you still have the beef, including Plant offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen (6 feet 5, 280 pounds) and Armwood defensive lineman Byron Cowart (6-4, 250). But scanning the list of Tampa Bay's top prospects for the upcoming season, you are struck by the speed.

The versatility.

The potential for playmaking.

"This class,'' says Sickles running back Ray Ray McCloud III, "has a lot of athletes in it."

While the Tampa Bay Times final 2014 rankings are headed up by East Lake receiver Artavis Scott, offensive linemen occupy five of the next six spots. Among 25 players ranked, nine are hogs who opened holes to the tune of thousands and thousands of rushing yards.

Two others play defensive line, and six are linebackers.

Where's the beef? There's the beef.

Then consider the players we expect to be the stars of the 2015 class.

Our top 25 is led by East Lake receiver George Campbell, one of the fastest and most recruited players because of his size (6-3, 184), speed (clocked at various combines at 4.35-4.4) and versatility. (Is he a pass catcher? A pass rusher? A pass defender?)

ESPN ranks the former Michigan oral commitment No. 2 among the Class of 2015. Rivals ranks him at No. 7. Scout has him at No. 16, and 247Sports puts him at No. 26.

In Tampa Bay, there is little argument — with the exception of those in Seffner, where a good case can be made for Cowart — that Campbell is the most sought-after recruit.

McCloud is a 2,300-yard rusher who is coveted as a defensive back as well. We rank him No. 4, though the national recruiting services don't see it that way.

The galloping Gryphon is joined in the top 10 by Tampa Bay Tech athlete Deon Cain, Hillsborough quarterback Dwayne Lawson and Wharton wide receiver Auden Tate.

Lakewood quarterback Ryan Davis is No. 11.

Cain, who plays quarterback at TBT but will be a wideout in college, and Tate are big receivers and two of the hottest names this offseason.

That's a whole lot of offensive firepower, even if McCloud, Cain and Davis don't play the positions in high school that they are projected to in college.

As a group, the offensive stars of the 2015 HomeTeam top 25 have almost 100 offers with many more to come.

While typically balanced with a little bit of everything, every class is different. Sometimes, a position stands out.

In 2012, pass rushers such as Dante Fowler, Tyriq McCord, Jeremi Powell and Eric Striker dominated the top of the list.

Quarterbacks (Robert Marve, Stephen Garcia, L.D. Crow, Alton Voss) dominated the list in 2007, wide receivers (Johnny Peyton, Jermain Filer, Brandon Williams) in 2004. And sometimes, even kickers find their way on the list such as 1994 with Jesuit's Jay Feely and Pasco's Brent Locklier.

And while the top of the 2015 list seems dominated by big, versatile playmakers, others shine as well.

We argued about Nos. 2 and 3 when it came to Fruhmorgen and Cowart. Lithe Freedom lineman Scott Patchan is at No. 6, and Nature Coast Tech offensive lineman Christian Pellage is No. 7.

There are sleepers such as Pasco linebacker Bowman Archibald (though we couldn't resist putting him in the top 10), Largo linebacker Jonathan Crawford and Robinson wide receiver Jahrvis Davenport. All could climb on this list.

Only East Bay defensive lineman Marques Ford, Wiregrass Ranch linebacker Jaye Miner and Boca Ciega defensive back Sekendric Biddines don't have offers. But we're guessing that changes soon.

And who's to say guys such as Pinellas Park receiver/cornerback Rashaan Watson, Admiral Farragut cornerback Isadore Wood and Clearwater Central Catholic quarterback Jeff Smith — none of whom we have currently ranked — don't beat them to it.

One thing is certain: It should be another banner year for Tampa Bay, which is in the midst of a superb run of great recruiting classes.

John C. Cotey can be reached at [email protected] Find him on Twitter @JohnnyHomeTeam.

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