Our fifth annual countdown of the top 100 football players in Tampa Bay — consisting of athletes who attend a public or private school in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco or Hernando counties. Past performances — spanning the fall, spring and summer - and promise of big things to come are all taken into consideration.
31. Whop Philyor, Plant
Position: Wide receiver
Height/weight: 6-0, 175
ZACK WITTMAN | Times
Five things to know about Philyor:
1. Philyor's first name is Mister, but for a long time he's gone by Whop, a nickname he got from his dad because of his favorite fast food spot. "When I was young, me and my dad used to go to Burger King almost every single day. I got the same thing," Philyor said. "He was like, "Man, you're always getting that, I should start calling you little Whop.'"
2. Philyor spends his days with his teammates, but when he goes home, he's mostly surrounded by women. Philyor has seven sisters, two of whom he grew up with. "It's kind of hard because they all triple team me, my sisters and my mom," he said. Philyor's step-brother is former Plant wide receiver and Syracuse signee Scoop Bradshaw.
3. As a freshman, Philyor developed a bond with current varsity starting quarterback Dane Frantzen when they were both on JV at the time. Now that he's the man in charge once again, Philyor said the chemistry between them should be on full display.
4. Philyor missed most of his sophomore season after sustaining a knee injury at USF's Sling-n-Shoot 7-on-7 tournament in July 2014. While on the sideline that fall, Philyor said he developed a new and improved understanding for the game. "Now I know every single play like the front of my hands," he said. "It's easy now.
5. Last season, Philyor had 697 yards on 49 receptions while adding more than 300 yards on kickoff and punt returns. His most memorable play, however, came on a touchdown reception in a 28-21 homecoming victory against district rival Sickles. "When we were down, I caught a clutch touchdown," Philyor said.
32. Warren Thompson, Armwood
Position: Wide receiver
Height/weight: 6-4, 185
LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
I know you guys have a new quarterback in (Lennard transfer) Devin Black. How has that adjustment been?
"It's been great. The camp was great; the first night we got off to the wrong foot, but Saturday and Sunday we just picked up chemistry. It's been good."
Black is more of a passer, which could open up your offense and get receivers more involved. Is that something you're excited about?
"It's great because it's going to be spreading the ball around, but there's more athletes on the field, so I just have to take it all in and stuff like that. If I get the ball thrown to me, I'm going to catch it. I've got to learn to be more of a team player."
What's the biggest thing you've been working on this offseason?
"Just being more sure handed, bringing the ball all the way in, and I'm trying to run routes better."
What was your most memorable moment from last year?
"When we played Brandon, not in the playoffs but the regular season, and I took a kick back (he had two kickoff return TDs last year). I had a good game. That kind of set it all up."
33. Decalon Brooks, Gaither
Height/weight: 5-10, 200
Scott Purks, Special to the Times
Why we ranked him: Major college offers are rolling in for Brooks, including one from Florida State University, the alma mater of his father, Derrick Brooks, who recently was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a long career with the Tampa Bay Bucs. But don't think that makes FSU a done deal. Gaither coach Jason Stokes says Brooks is a young man who makes his own way. Stokes adds that Brooks will make whichever school he chooses very happy. "Decalon is a great leader, who does everything the right way," Stokes said. "He is the hardest worker on the team and his football IQ is off the chart. You couldn't ask for more." Brooks, who averaged 11.4 tackles a game in 2015, could play outside linebacker or safety in college. Other offers Brooks is considering currently include USF, Louisville, Illinois, Florida International, Florida Atlantic and Iowa State.
34. Dane Frantzen, Plant
Height/weight: 5-11, 195
ZACK WITTMAN | Times
Frantzen moved to South Tampa when he was 6 years old. And to this day, he can still remember the exact moment he knew he wanted to play for the hometown team.
"My mom just brought a newspaper up to me, and there was a picture of (Aaron Murray) on the cover, he was standing against the Plant field goal posts with the water tower in the background," Frantzen recalls. "Ever since then I was like, "Man, I want to do that.'"
And finally this season, he will.
Frantzen, who will be the lone varsity starter at quarterback for the Panthers this fall, got a sneak peek of what it will be like last season, when he was one of three quarterbacks who took reps for the injured Rex Culpepper.
Frantzen, who saw the most time under center last year, finished the 2015 season with 1,001 yards and nine touchdowns while rushing for 661 yards and four more scores. Frantzen is quick and strong — he runs a 4.55 40 and can bench press 325 pounds — and coach Robert Weiner considers his new starter a true dual-threat quarterback.
But those weren't the only reasons the veteran coach decided to stick with Frantzen despite the plethora of other options he had at the position. Sometimes the best attributes, Weiner said, can't be measured.
"I've coached for 27 years, and we've coached some tough guys, and I put Dane right up there towards the top of the list of guys we've had that are super tough," Weiner said. "I think at the end of the day, if you can have that at that position, that really rubs off on everybody else."
35. Andrew Cunningham, Cambridge Christian
Position: Running back/safety
Height/weight: 6-0, 205
OCTAVIO JONES | Times
Cunningham by the numbers:
2 Cousins who also play sports — Roseanne, a freshman who runs track, and James, a seventh-grader who plays basketball. They both attend Town 'N Country Christian. Cunningham lives with both and refers to them as his siblings.
3 Sports Cunningham plays at Cambridge. He is also a standout in basketball and track.
11 College offers Cunningham has to play football, including Division I-A programs such as Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville and N.C. State.
25 Cunningham's jersey number. He wears it in honor of a housing project in Philadelphia on 25th Street. Cunningham lived there with four older brothers until he was 4.
1,370 Yards rushing Cunningham gained as a sophomore.
2,000 Yards Cunningham hopes to rush for this season.
36. Bobby Roundtree, Largo
Position: Defensive end/tight end
Height/weight: 6-5, 220
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times
Why we ranked him: A two-sport star, Roundtree helped the Packers advance to the Class 6A state championship game in basketball last season. But his collegiate future is in football, where he is coveted as a speed rushing end. Last season, he had 45 tackles and five sacks. He entered the offseason with just one offer from Alcorn State. He now has nearly 30. Two weeks ago, Roundtree whittled that list to his top 10 schools, which includes Indiana, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville and Mississippi State. This season Roundtree's numbers should improve. Coach Marcus Paschal said he is going to "unleash" his prized defensive lineman on opposing quarterbacks.
37. J'Bril Glaze, Jefferson
Position: Defensive end
Height/weight: 6-4, 250
BRENDAN FITTERER | Times
Five things to know about Glaze:
1. Believe it or not, Glaze came to Jefferson interested in playing quarterback, the position he played during his last years in little league football. Glaze said when he first told Jefferson coaches he wanted to play under center, they gave him a strange look. "For a week or two I was playing quarterback," Glaze said, "and then they were like, 'Hey, how about this? How about you play a little line for us?' "
2. Glaze has 21 Division I-A offers, including ones from South Carolina, Kentucky and Mississippi State. Glaze said he plans to take unofficial visits in July before he can begin taking his officials in September. He has plans to check out the Gamecocks, Wildcats and Bulldogs, among others.
3. Glaze is one of four children, and starting this year, he's one of two Glazes on Jefferson's roster. J'Bril's younger brother, Zion, transferred from Middleton and will follow in his brother's footsteps as a defensive force. "We've very competitive," J'Bril said. "He's actually playing the side as me at outside linebacker."
4. When he's not playing football, Glaze enjoys shooting hoops. And even though he's never played on a basketball team, he said he's considered playing this year at Jefferson. "But after my commitment date, I'm probably going to sit it down until I go off to college," he said.
5. Last year, Glaze contributed 38 tackles, six for loss, and two sacks. He also had a pair of fumble recoveries, both in a 44-15 victory against Spoto. To get prepared for this season, Glaze said he's been spending a lot of time in the weightroom. "I've been trying to get stronger, and I work on my foot speed, going through the ladder and things of that nature, so I make sure that as I get stronger, I don't get heavy footed," he said.
38. Bentlee Sanders, Tampa Catholic
Height/weight: 5-9, 180
Scott Purks, Special to the Times
Why we ranked him: What hasn't Sanders done during his time with the Crusaders? The recent Toledo commit missed his sophomore campaign with a knee injury, but he's played all over the field to make up for lost time. As a freshman, Sanders had 371 punt and kickoff return yards while racking up 31 tackles and 12 passes defended. Last season he contributed on offense, too, with 64 yards receiving and 55 yards rushing and one rushing touchdown. He's one of just many Tampa Catholic skill players who could shine on both sides of the ball come August.
39. Duran Bell, Hillsborough
Position: Running back
Height/weight: 5-11, 170
Andy Warrener, Special to the Times
Bell led the Terriers in rushing a year ago with almost 600 yards, averaging 6 yards per carry, and he had three TDs via the ground.
How old were you when you started playing football?
"I was probably about 7 or 8 maybe. My first team was the Fair Oaks Rattlers. I played flag football."
Did anyone in your family play football, too?
"My dad played football, all his brothers played. They actually came to Hillsborough High School, except for my dad. My dad went to Brandon; he came here for a little bit for spring, then he went back to Brandon."
How are the Terriers looking so far this offseason?
"It's coming along very well. We started off kind of rough, because we had just gotten the offense together and it was new to us, but we've gotten better every week and we do 7-on-7 on Tuesdays. … We're going to come together as one. We're going to buy into the offense and everything's going to be great."
How's your recruiting going?
"I have 14 of 15 offers. … I would like to go out of state to play some ball, because I'd like to do things on my own without having my dad help me. But I wouldn't mind coming to USF. You know, it's family oriented, it's here in Tampa. I plan to make a decision to commit in early August or in the middle of football season."
What's the biggest thing you're looking forward to about this season?
"I just want to win. I just want to get those teams last year who beat us, who shouldn't have beaten us because they weren't better than us. To go ahead and give it to them nice, like we were supposed to give it to them."
40. Demetrius Powell, Blake
Height/weight: 6-0, 210
Scott Purks, Special to the Times
Why we ranked him: There is no reason to believe that Powell couldn't rack up a 20-sack season in 2016. As a junior, Powell collected 16.5 sacks. "I have seen very few players who have a quicker first step than (Powell)," said Blake coach Adam Hill, who has coached in the college and pro ranks. "He is lightning." Powell is expected to line up mostly on the outside as a linebacker or a defensive end, but you also might catch him playing as an inside lineman to cause disruption up the middle. Powell nursed a sore knee in the spring, but is expected to be at full force when the fall rolls around.
Compiled by staff writers Rodney Page, Kelly Parsons and Bob Putnam, and correspondent Scott Purks.