Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough County's turn on the national stage

TAMPA

Get your popcorn ready and grab a seat. It's going to be quite a show. Hillsborough County has always been blessed with its share of the best high school football talent in Florida, but in the past it played second fiddle to South Florida. This year is different. You can argue this year's crop is the best in Florida.

"You have to go there to recruit now," recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports said of Hillsborough County. "A few years ago people were talking about Tampa being down, but this year the area has the best talent in Florida, better than (Miami-Dade) County, Broward, Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee."

The spotlight is shining on Hillsborough County brightly this season. The area's top game — an opening-week game between Class 4A state contenders Armwood and Plant — will be nationally televised on ESPNU. The Hawks have been ranked has high as No. 2 nationally.

Plant quarterback Aaron Murray has been tabbed as the third-best prospect in the country by Lemming. Armwood has four starters — defensive end Ryne Giddins, linebacker Petey Smith, safety Angelo Hadley and quarterback Mywan Jackson — who own major Division I offers.

But it doesn't stop there. Gaither running back Jarvis Giles, Alonso defensive tackle Demonte McAllister and Plant tight end Orson Charles are consensus top-100 national recruits.

And no longer is Tampa just a regional recruiting zone for state schools. Schools that haven't recruited here before, national powers like Nebraska and Michigan included, are scouting Hillsborough County for talent.

"Michigan's coming in, the entire Big Ten is coming to the area," Lemming said. "It's opening up a lot of doors for the entire area. …You look up and down and there are so many potential All-Americans and there's a lot of depth in Tampa and the area north, so college coaches will keep coming in."

The recruiting landscape has changed. And Hillsborough County has become a destination.

"It probably started happening about eight years ago," longtime Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia said. "Now it's gotten to the point that every school needs its own recruiting coordinator because it's a full-time job. We get them from everywhere, from East Coast to West Coast, from the Canadian border down to Mexico."

It speaks to the breadth of talent around the state. Rivals.com national analyst Jamie Newberg said 32 running back prospects from Florida received Division I offers by June, meaning some local players with great talent don't get the attention because the state is so rich in athletes.

"Guys like (Chamberlain quarterback) Dontae Aycock and Jarvis Giles, those are guys in the middle tier in terms of the top running backs in the state," Newberg said. "They could play for anyone in the country."

The Times Lucky 13

A look at Hillsborough County's top prospects and their notable offers (in alphabetical order).

Dontae Aycock, QB
Chamberlain Arkansas, Kansas, Illinois
Orson Charles, TE
Plant Miami, Florida, LSU
ryNE GIDDINS, DE
Armwood Florida, Miami, Southern Cal
jarvis giles, rb
Gaither Chose Tennessee over FSU, Clemson
Angelo Hadley, FS
Armwood Auburn, Georgia, Michigan
Lindsey Lamar, RB
Hillsborough Michigan, Wake Forest, USF
Mywan Jackson, QB
Armwood Auburn, Michigan, Missouri
Jairus Jones, SS
Wharton Illinois, LSU, Nebraska
Demonte McAllister, DT
Alonso Chose FSU over Georgia, Southern Cal
Erick McGriff, WR
Jesuit Auburn, Arkansas, Kansas
Aaron Murray, QB
Plant Chose Georgia over Florida, UCLA
Petey Smith, ILB
Armwood Florida, Miami, Ohio State
Anthony Williams, WR
Chamberlain Arkansas, Georgia, Ole Miss
Eduardo A. Encina and Keith Niebuhr, Times staff writers

Hillsborough County's turn on the national stage 09/04/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 4, 2008 2:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. LSU advances to College World Series finals, awaits Florida or TCU

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — Caleb Gilbert held No. 1 national seed Oregon State to two hits in 71/3 innings, Michael Papierski homered from both sides of the plate and LSU beat the Beavers 6-1 on Saturday to reach the College World Series finals.

    Beau Jordan celebrates after hitting a home run during a victory over Oregon State, LSU’s second straight win over the No. 1 national seed.
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Rays journal: Jumbo Diaz falters after getting within a strike of ending rally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game got away starting with a leadoff walk in the seventh inning by Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who was brought in exclusively to face Baltimore's lefty-swinging Seth Smith.

    Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Orioles score four during the seventh inning to give them a 7-3 lead. Diaz was one strike away from working out of the jam before he allowed a two-run double and a two-run homer on back-to-back pitches.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It was refreshing to see RHP Jacob Faria take the blame after the loss even though he gave the Rays a chance to win. Too often young pitchers are encouraged by what they did and not necessarily the outcome, but Faria, making just his fourth big-league start, came to the Trop to win, didn't, and pointed the finger …