Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Sports

HomeTeam 100: Players 41-50

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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.

41. Tyler Knight, Northside Christian

Position: Offensive line

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-5, 270

MONICA HERNDON | Times

Tyler Knight

Knight will begin his second season at Northside Christian after transferring from Calvary Christian. He is committed to the University of Indiana, where he plans to study engineering and information technologies.

What made you leave Calvary Christian after your sophomore year?

"I decided that football was going to be my breakout sport. We talked to the coaches over here and I liked Coach Mike (Alstott) and I thought he could get me to the next level."

Did you ever think of continuing to play basketball at Northside?

"I used to be an athlete (laughs). I can't keep my weight on for offensive line and still play basketball."

Did it take you a while to get used to playing offensive line?

"I like it. I don't miss getting hit over the middle like I did when I was a tight end. I like lining up and hitting guys."

Last season ended in a close playoff loss to state finalist Cambridge Christian. Do you still think about that and does it motivate you for your final season?

"Every day we remind ourselves of that. We talk every day in workouts about how we want to be better than we were last year. We want to end this senior season on a good note."

How did you decide on Indiana?

"They were the first to recruit me. They actually came to see me play at Calvary before I was even a serious football player. I've visited there four times already. It feels like home up there. I'm actually going to enroll in January. I can't wait."

42. Tyrese Spain, Jefferson

Position: Cornerback/wide receiver

Year: Junior

Height/weight: 5-10, 170

MONICA HERNDON | Times

Tyrese Spain

Last season, Spain was thrown into the role of starting quarterback when Cade Weldon went down with a torn ACL. It took some time for the offense to adjust, but as the season progressed, the Dragons found their footing and ended the regular season by winning four of their last five games. "It was hard at first, a new position out of the blue, just thrown into it. But Coach (Jeremy) Earle helped me a lot," Spain said. "It was fun at the end when you learn how to do it very good." Here's a look at Spain's 2015 contributions:

1,552 yards passing

937 all-purpose yards, including 118 carries, three kickoff returns and 10 punt returns

4 punts for 102 yards

7 passes defended at cornerback

1 interception

43. Darius Corbett, Tampa Catholic

Position: Wide receiver/cornerback

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-1, 180

Scott Purks, Special to the Times

Darius Corbett

Corbett averaged 24.3 yards per reception (34, 825 yards) and caught nine touchdowns a year ago for the Crusaders.

Now that Nate Craig-Myers has graduated, are you looking forward to an increased role?

"Some people say that it's good I was here with Nate was here so I can learn from him and things he did. I can follow that, but I can take off on my own path to do what I have to do."

What did you learn from Craig-Myers?

"I learned some releases, how he gets in and out of his routes, catching the ball and focusing, and just making moves after the ball."

Have you always been a wide receiver?

"My first position (when I was little) actually was offensive tackle, but then after that, that same year they put me at receiver."

What do you like the most about playing receiver?

"I just like freaking people, meaning embarrassing them. It's kind of funny, you can post it on Twitter and whatnot."

What was your most memorable game last year?

"Jesuit my sophomore year. I did a slant and I scored and I slipped into the end zone."

So Jesuit and Tampa Catholic this year …?

"It'll be a good game, but we're definitely going to win. I don't care about the streak (16 straight losses to Jesuit). It's ending. Definitely."

44. Jervon Newton, Clearwater Central Catholic

Position: Running back/defensive back

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-0, 185

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Jervon Newton

Why we ranked him: One of the most versatile players in the bay area, Newton led the Marauders in rushing yards (952), rushing touchdowns (12) and interceptions (five) last season. First-year CCC coach Chris Harvey said Newton will be featured even more in the running game. That should help Newton eclipse the 1,000-yard barrier in a season for the first time. In the spring game against Clearwater, Newton rushed for 100 yards, 67 coming in the second half. He also recorded an interception. Newton has offers from five schools — Army, Bucknell, Campbell, Marist and Western Illinois. Army offered him at both positions. The rest want him as a running back.

45. Griffin Alstott, Northside Christian

Position: Quarterback

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-2, 195

MONICA HERNDON | Times

Griffin Alstott

Alstott is part of a wave of 17 players who came to Northside Christian as freshmen. As they have gotten older, the Mustangs have improved with them. For the past two seasons, Northside Christian has qualified for the playoffs after struggling to win even a game in the seasons prior.

"It seems like just yesterday when we were freshmen," Alstott said. "This is our last time around so we're all working really hard to end it on a good note."

Alstott is certainly poised to have a big season. Already committed to Purdue, he has thrown for more than 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons with a combined 30 touchdown passes. And he is surrounded by a big offensive line and plenty of capable receivers.

One thing Alstott and his fellow seniors haven't done is win a playoff game.

"We were really disappointed with the way the season ended last year," Alstott said. "We have a lot to prove this season."

For Alstott, this will be the last season his dad, Mike, will be his head coach. Mike Alstott has coached Griffin since the youth league days. Not having his dad on the sideline is something he said he will miss.

"We've had our aches and pains, but in the long run it's been well worth it," Alstott said. "There's nothing better on a Friday night than to have your dad on the sidelines with you. If you throw a touchdown pass and look over at your dad, there's no better feeling in the world."

46. Desmond Bessent, Sickles

Position: Offensive line

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-8, 290

Scott Purks, Special to the Times

Desmond Bessent

Why we ranked him: Interest in Bessent grows as he grows, which is steadily up, up, up. Bessent doesn't have a pile of college offers presently on his plate, but first-year Gryphons' coach Patrick Murphy says he expects plenty more to flow in as the season rolls on. Last year as a junior, Bessent proved solid at both pass blocking for quarterback Chris Oladokun (who threw for 1,390 yards) and as a run blocker for a stable of backs, who combined to carry the ball 233 times for 1,372 yards.

47. Jakob Parks, Clearwater Central Catholic

Position: Quarterback

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-4, 200

Jay Nolan, Special to the Times

Jakob Parks

Why we ranked him: After playing at Plant his freshman season, Parks transferred to CCC. Last season, he had the unenviable task of replacing Jeff Smith at quarterback. Parks thrived as a starter, throwing for 2,056 yards and 20 touchdowns while leading the Marauders to their fourth straight state semifinal. Parks also is careful with the football, throwing just three interceptions last season. In the spring game against Clearwater, he had two touchdowns through the air. Parks has offers from Eastern Kentucky and South Dakota. He spent the summer attending as many camps as possible in hopes of gaining more exposure.

48. Ken Montgomery, Hillsborough

Position: Cornerback

Year: Junior

Height/weight: 6-2, 165

Andy Warrener, Special to the Times

Ken Montgomery

Even before Montgomery got to Hillsborough High as a freshman, the cornerback knew exactly what to expect. After all, being a Terrier runs in the family.

The junior is a fifth-generation Hillsborough High student, and a third-generation football player for coach Earl Garcia. Montgomery's father, also named Ken, played cornerback for the Terriers, and his grandfather, Adele Montgomery, played for Garcia in the 1970s.

"I do remember (his father). He looks exactly the same as when I coached him. Very good guy, athletic, just like his son," Garcia said. "They readily talk about their family having gone through this school ... If they hear it from their dad and grandparents, they have a sense of the history when they get here as ninth graders."

Last season, Montgomery had 89 yards on five receptions, and he had 21 tackles and two interceptions in seven games. This offseason, Montgomery's recruiting has blown up, and he's already received 13 offers, including ones from Southern California, Kentucky and Louisville.

But before he heads off to college, Montgomery said he's focused on keeping his head down and working hard, which his father and grandfather talk about quite frequently.

"They tell me about Coach, they say he's getting older so he's being a little too soft on us right now," said Montgomery, laughing. "But they say back when they came to school, it was actually three-a-days not two-a-days."

No matter how much time he spends on the practice field or in the weightroom, though, Montgomery says he's got a little extra motivation to achieve his goals.

"I have a lot of pride in Hillsborough," He said. "I take a lot of pride in the Big Red."

49. Jahryn Bailey, Lennard

Position: Running back

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 5-10, 220

Scott Purks, Special to the Times

Jahryn Bailey

Strong and fast, it appears Bailey will be the Longhorns' featured offensive threat in 2016 after an outstanding 2015 campaign.

Bailey by the numbers:

3 Games last season rushing for more than 200 yards

5 Passes caught last season

5.8 Average yards per rush as a junior

70 Percent of the Longhorns' rushing yards were produced by Bailey in 2015

122 Average rushing yards per game

211 Carries as a junior

1,220 Total rushing yards last season

50. Tramar Reece, Clearwater

Position: Defensive end/tight end

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-4, 215

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Tramar Reece

Why we ranked him: Following a stellar junior season that included 4.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries, Reece decided he needed to do more, particularly in the weight room. He bulked up, going from 177 pounds to 215 while maintaining his quickness. That had colleges salivating over his potential as an edge rusher. Reece is approaching 20 offers from schools, but has already committed to Indiana. He is part is part of a veteran defensive line that includes Kane Taylor and Garet Chisholm. In the spring game against Clearwater, he had a sack that thwarted a scoring drive.

Compiled by staff writers Rodney Page, Kelly Parsons and Bob Putnam, and correspondent Scott Purks.

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