Saturday, September 22, 2018

HomeTeam 100: Players 61-70

Our sixth 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. Today: players 61-70.

61. Dontavius Smith, Jefferson

Position: Wide receiver

Year: Junior

Height/weight: 5-7, 160

What Smith may lack in size, he more than makes up for with speed, strength, hands and toughness. Smith's athleticism, in fact, has already landed him offers from USF, Missouri, FAU and Arizona. In the 40-yard dash, Smith has been timed at 4.4 seconds, ranking him the fastest in a long line of speedy Dragons. Watch for Smith to also help the track team next year. This past spring, Smith helped the Dragons' 4x100 relay team to a seventh-place finish at the Class 3A state meet.

HIGHLIGHTS: Dontavius Smith.

Andres Leiva | Times

WR Dontavius Smith

62. Cameron Myers, Durant

Position: Running back

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-1, 175

Three things to know about Myers:

1. Myers' brother, Brandon, will play next year as a freshman for the University of Central Arkansas, which isn't far from the school that Cameron committed to this summer, Arkansas State.

2. Cameron is part of a set of triplets, including sisters Ashlyn and Kaelyn.

3. Despite an early-season leg injury in 2016, Myers finished with 100 carries for 743 yards and 10 touchdowns. If Myers stays healthy, his number of carries, yards and touchdowns could conceivably double.

HIGHLIGHTS: Cameron Myers.

Loren Elliott | Times

RB Cameron Myers

63. Omarion Coleman, Blake

Position: Running back

Year: Sophomore

Height/weight: 5-8, 150

Before he's finished with his high school career, Coleman could end up as one of the area's all-time leading rushers. Last year as a 14-year-old freshman, Coleman burst onto the scene with 1,089 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in only nine games (one week was cancelled because of bad weather). Coleman also showed great toughness in Week 9 with 35 carries for 256 yards in a 20-19 loss to Chamberlain. As a result, Coleman has already received scholarship interest from the likes of Georgia and Clemson.

HIGHLIGHTS: Omarion Coleman.

Octavio Jones | Times

RB Omarion Coleman

64. John Waller, Admiral Farragut

Position: Defensive lineman

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-4, 315

Special to the Times

DL John Waller

There was a time when Waller was too big to play football. From about 10 to 13 years old he weighed too much to play against his peers.

"I'd just be on the sidelines and help Coach," said Waller, who played for the Lakewood Jr. Spartans and the St. Pete Lil' Devils.

When he finally got on the field, he excelled. Waller started his high school career at Lakewood. Midway through his freshman year, when the football season was over, he transferred to Admiral Farragut. Now in his third year as a starter, Waller will anchor a defensive line that should harass quarterbacks and ball carriers all season.

"I like getting sacks the most," Waller said. "Just making the big hit. That's the best part of the position. That's what makes all the hard work worth it."

Waller, who has numerous offers including Michigan, Indiana, UCF and USF, has had a busy summer. Aside from the normal offseason workouts, he also works part-time for the city of St. Petersburg. And he said he's been weighing an option to spend his senior season at IMG Academy in Bradenton.

"Right now I'm 80 percent sure I'm staying at Admiral Farragut," Waller said. "I know I like Admiral Farragut and it's my senior year. I don't know if I'll like IMG. I might, but I don't really know."

HIGHLIGHTS: John Waller.

65. WR J'Von France, Tarpon Springs

Position: Wide receiver/running back/defensive back

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-0, 180

France's high school career has come full circle. After playing for the Spongers his first two seasons, France returns to the program as a senior. Last season, he played at Palm Harbor University and posted career highs in receptions (47), yards (788) and touchdowns (seven). A big-play threat, France has averaged more than 16 yards per catch each of the past two years. He will team up with quarterback Justice Parham to form a nice tandem. France already has an offer from Stetson and said he hopes to get one from Troy during a visit in September.


Scott Purks | Special to the Times

WR/RB/DB J'von France

66. Donovan Jennings, Gaither

Position: Offensive lineman

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-5, 315

Three things to know about Jennings:

1. Jennings never played football before his freshman year because he always exceeded the size limit for youth-league football teams.

2. After his freshman year, Jennings didn't play as a sophomore because he didn't think he was making enough improvement to gain more playing time. He came back last year to football and blossomed, picking up 11 scholarship offers from major colleges, including USF, UCF, Virginia, and Western Kentucky.

3. Jennings has always been a full-time basketball player, averaging 15 points and three rebounds last year. He believes his years of playing basketball have tremendously helped his footwork as an offensive lineman. Jennings, however, will not play basketball in college. "I've loved playing basketball but football is now my game for years to come."

HIGHLIGHTS: Donovan Jennings.

Scott Purks | Special to the Times

OL Donovan Jennings

67. Niko Duffey, Jefferson

Position: Running back

Year: Junior

Height/weight: 5-11, 165

Duffey can do just about anything you ask. Last year as a sophomore, Duffey rushed for 950 yards (8.9 yards a carry), had 153 yards receiving, returned kickoffs for 104 yards and racked up nine total touchdowns. What about a little defensive back? "I'll do that if the coaches want me to," he said. But Dragons coach Jeremy Earle says Duffey as a DB isn't likely. "We want (Duffey) to keep running that ball," Earle said.

HIGHLIGHTS: Niko Duffey.

Andres Leiva | Times

RB Niko Duffey

68. Ethan White, Calvary Christian

Position: Offensive lineman/defensive tackle

Year: Junior

Height/weight: 6-5, 324

Special to the Times

OL/DT Ethan White

White by the numbers:

1 Position (left tackle) White has played since he started in youth leagues

3 Meals a day White eats to maintain his weight. He said it includes lots of meats and vegetables

3.4 White's current GPA

7.12 Pounds White weighed when he was born

8 Offers from colleges (Duke, Iowa State, Louisville, North Carolina, Purdue, Toledo, UCF and USF)

300 Dollars his family spends a week to feed him and his younger brother, Daryn, who does not play sports

360 Pounds White is able to bench press

HIGHLIGHTS: Ethan White.

69. Jaylen Harrell, Berkeley Prep

Position: Linebacker/tight end

Year: Sophomore

Height/weight: 6-2, 209

Football has been a part of Harrell's life for as long as he can remember. His father, James Harrell, played at Chamberlain and Florida before embarking on a nine-year professional career that included a stint with the Tampa Bay Bandits.

After James Harrell's playing days were over, he started coaching. Most of his time on the sidelines has been with Jesuit and Plant.

So it seemed only natural the son would go to one of those schools.

Instead, he enrolled at Berkeley Prep as a freshman last season.

"After talking to my family we decided that Berkeley offered the best opportunity for academic challenge and sports diversity," Jaylen said.

There also was a connection. James worked as an assistant for Bucs coach Dominic Ciao when the two were at Jesuit.

Jaylen had a solid debut season, tying for the team lead in tackles with 81 and forcing three fumbles as a freshman.

That got the attention of colleges. Jaylen has offers from several schools, including Ohio State, South Carolina and USF.

"I'm just blessed to receive any offers this early," Jaylen said. "Really, the focus right now is trying to lead my team as best as I can to a state championship."

HIGHLIGHTS: Jaylen Harrell.

Andres Leiva | Times

LB/TE Jaylen Harrell

70. Levi Jackson, Tampa Bay Tech

Position: Running back/wide receiver

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-2, 200

A dependable target, Jackson had 38 receptions for 566 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Though Jackson posted solid numbers, he was overshadowed by a receiving corps that included Daquon Green, a four-star recruit now at Florida. With Green and Anthony Payne II both graduating, Jackson is the now the bona fide No. 1 receiver for the Titans and should put up monster numbers with the return of quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who has committed to Tennessee. Jackson picked up offers from Robert Morris and Mercer in the offseason.

HIGHLIGHTS: Levi Jackson.

Charlie Kaijo | Times

RB/WR Levi Jackson

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

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