As the 2009 prep football season approaches, the Times will break down each position in the county. Today we take a look at defensive linemen.
Top returning linemen
1. Tim Jackson, Gibbs: A speed rusher off the edge, Jackson had 42 tackles and eight sacks last season. He has offers from Auburn, Louisville. Ole Miss, North Carolina and USF.
2. Mike Douglas, Largo: The leader on a young defensive line last season, Douglas had 16 tackles and a sack. He has rocketed up the rankings on Web sites this summer and is rated the 87th-best player in the state by rivals.com.
3. Dominic James, St. Petersburg: He should be more in the spotlight after playing in the shadow of Te'Jay Brown last season. Coach Joe Fabrizio said James should give opponents fits.
4. Broderick Lee, Tarpon Springs: The nephew of former Spongers standout Donnel Engram, Lee registered 76 tackles last season. In the spring game against Lakeland, he had five tackles for loss.
5. Bobby Lyons, East Lake: A former quarterback, Lyons played on the line last season and had 38 tackles and a sack despite playing with a broken hand for most of the year. He had 1½ sacks in the spring.
6. Dominique Ellis, Northeast: A versatile athlete, Ellis creates havoc in the backfield and anchors a young defensive line.
7. Austin Mai, Largo: At 300 pounds, Mai provides the beef on the line and will be counted on to be a run stopper.
8. Johnny Keooudom, Dixie Hollins: The Rebels' nose guard is stout against the run and is getting looks from some smaller colleges.
9. Max Wolfinbarger, Countryside: After registering eight sacks last season, Wolfinbarger could put up similar numbers this year.
10. Danny Clarke, Lakewood: The leader of an athletic line, Clarke was a productive performer last season.
Keep an eye on
1. Dante Fowler, Lakewood: A transfer from St. Petersburg Catholic, Fowler is a speed rusher who should be able to post big numbers in the Spartans' aggressive defensive scheme.
2. Clay Paino, Tarpon Springs: A two-way player, Paino will start full time on defense and team with Lee to form the top defensive tackle tandem in the county.
3. Tyree Craddock, Countryside: A former offensive lineman, Craddock moves to the defensive side of the ball and has a good motor.
4. Victor Sanchez, Boca Ciega: He will be counted on to fill the leadership void created by the departure of Julius Forte, who graduated.
5. Alec Petrocelli, Clearwater Central Catholic: The Marauders rotate as many as eight players on the line, but Petrocelli should get plenty of playing time.
Bob Putnam can be reached at email@example.com