Sunday, November 19, 2017

HomeTeam 100: Players 71-80


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.

71. Austyn Causey, St. Petersburg

Position: Quarterback

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 5-11, 155


Austyn Causey

Causey is back in green. After helping lead Admiral Farragut to the playoffs during his junior year, he decided to return to his zoned school. "Everyone else was leaving and it just didn't feel like the same school," Causey said. "I can just pick up where I left off." In two years as a starter, Causey has put up some impressive numbers:

1,184 Passing yards as a sophomore at St. Petersburg

1,834 Passing yards as a junior at Admiral Farragut

3,018 Combined passing yards

34 Combined touchdown passes in two seasons

5 Rushing touchdowns in both his sophomore and junior seasons

6 Interceptions thrown in each of those seasons

0-2 Record in playoff games, both losses by a touchdown or less

72. Rashaad Stewart, Clearwater Central Catholic

Position: Running back/defensive back

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-1, 180


Rashaad Stewart

As a running back, Stewart has speed and power. He can run through a linebacker or past a defensive back. He is smart and tireless.

Those are the same traits his football idol, Ricky Williams, displayed as a running back in the NFL.

"I liked to watch Ricky when he was with the Dolphins," Stewart said. "I liked his running style, the way he eluded defenders and his vision through the hole. I try to simulate that."

Williams was almost super human on the football field, something Stewart enjoys given his affection for drawing comic book characters.

"I'm pretty laid back and into art and drawing," he said. "I really like the Dali Museum and one day I would like to go to the Smithsonian. I draw different characters like Batman, Spiderman and Superman."

So which comic book hero would Stewart like to be?

"I would probably be like Spiderman or Batman because there's like two sides of me," Stewart said. "There's football, then there's the laid-back, chill side off the field."

Running the ball made Stewart a star in youth leagues. He also has put up solid numbers in high school. Last season, he had 621 yards rushing and eight TDs.

As a freshman three years ago, Stewart added defensive back duties. He became so good on that side of the ball that colleges started recruiting him to be in their secondary. Stewart has 17 offers, the biggest coming from Boston College, Cincinnati, Louisville, Marshall and Western Kentucky.

"I actually like playing both positions equally, but I know my potential at the next level is on the defensive side," Stewart said.

73. Malcolm Lamar, Armwood

Position: Defensive end

Year: Junior

Height/weight: 6-5, 250


Malcolm Lamar

What do you like about playing defense?

"Defense, it's just fun. My freshman year I played offense, and then when I moved over to defense, It was more fun, better. I played tackle."

What makes defense more fun?

"On offense, you're getting hit. But you can hit people on defense."

Other than football, what do you like to do?

"I can sing. I like to sing anything."

What can we expect from the defense this year?

"If everybody just stays on their Ps and Qs and runs to the ball, we'll be good."

74. Paul Taylor, Tampa Bay Tech

Position: Defensive end

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-5, 225


Paul Taylor

Growing up, Taylor was always big for his age. But instead of making his way to the football field, he tried a handful of other sports. It wasn't until he was 13 that he made his football debut, playing for the Town 'N Country Vikings.

"In middle school I played every sport," Taylor said. "It wasn't really that hard (to make up for lost time). I just got the hang of things pretty quickly. I noticed I was pretty good at it."

And during the past couple seasons, TBT has benefited from the contributions of its late bloomer.

Last season, Taylor had 55 tackles, six for loss, and 5½ sacks, just .5 fewer than fellow defensive end Jonathan King. Taylor, a strong side defensive end, said it's his goal this year to lead the Titans in both tackles and sacks.

King, who is the weak side to his strong side, may have something to say about that.

"That's my bro. We talk out of football, so when we transfer it to football it's a lot easier. We vibe really well," King said. "In any situation, we just kind of push each other, compete with each other. It's a good little competition we've got.

75. Ahmarean Brown, Tampa Catholic

Position: Wide receiver

Year: Sophomore

Height/weight: 5-10, 165

Special to the Times

Ahmarean Brown

What made you want to transfer to Tampa Catholic?

"First, me and my parents talked about it, because I wanted to get my grades up. So we looked at it. And then we looked over the football and we thought I'd have a good opportunity to come over here and play."

You're joining a bunch of good skill players. Does that motivate you?

"It's exciting, plus we have some big names over here, so I think it will be great playing with them."

This season is likely to be your breakout year. What can we expect to see?

"Basically when I get the ball in my hands, what I can do when I catch the ball and getting into the end zone."

What's the biggest difference between Tampa Catholic and Jefferson?

"We basically do the same thing, but just the plays, the players are big about motivating you."

What are you most looking forward to about the fall?

"Going to states."

76. Lyndell Hudson, Central

Position: Offensive line

Year: Junior

Height/weight: 6-7, 315


Lyndell Hudson

Why we ranked him: With his size, Hudson is clearly a load for any defensive lineman to handle. Ever since the fifth game of his freshman season against South Sumter, Hudson has been an anchor on the offensive line. Playing the position is in his genes. His father, Lyndell Sr., played on the line at St. Mary's University and was his coach through middle school. "He's taught me a lot," Hudson said. "He's still teaching me a lot." Hudson was a big reason for running back De'Vonta Smith's success (2,193 yards, 19 touchdowns) last season. "Nothing better than watching him break a big run," Hudson said. With offers from Florida A&M and Southern Mississippi, Hudson is sure to get more attention in his final two years.

77. Larry Dalla Betta, Mitchell

Position: Quarterback

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-4, 215


Larry Dalla Betta

Why we ranked him: A strong-armed passer, Dalla Betta ranked third in the Tampa Bay area in touchdown passes last season with 24. He also had 1,646 yards passing while leading the Mustangs to their first district title. Graduation took away a big chunk of targets with Mitchell losing its top two receivers. Dalla Betta spent time in camps playing tight end to make him a more attractive option to college recruiters. He also could play a limited role as a defensive lineman. But he is too valuable as a quarterback to spend much time anywhere else on offense.

78. Braden Gilby, Jesuit

Position: Linebacker

Year: Junior

Height/weight: 6-2, 230


Braden Gilby

Five things to know about Gilby:

1. Gilby led Jesuit with 128 tackles as a sophomore, 14 for loss. He also had eight sacks, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions, one he returned 14 yards vs. Lakewood and another he returned 20 yards vs. Jefferson.

2. Gilby may excel on the defense side of the ball, but before he came to Jesuit he was used to playing running back. With 2,000-yard rusher Malik Davis on the team, however, coach Matt Thompson moved him to linebacker. Gilby played running back as a middle-schooler at Shorecrest. "I got to see both sides of the ball and really got to experience the whole game," he said.

3. The Jesuit junior didn't begin playing football until he was in the sixth grade, a later age than many of his peers. Before finding the gridiron, Gilby played all kinds of sports, including soccer and baseball.

4. Despite his late start, Gilby has football in his blood. His father walked on at Texas A&M, playing on special teams and defensive back. "I had always wanted to play football, so I looked up to him," Gilby said.

5. After leading Jesuit's defense, Gilby has a lot to look forward to about the upcoming season. But the biggest thing he's got his eye on? A potential rematch with Orlando Bishop Moore, the team that ended Jesuit's season in the region final. "I'm just looking forward to beating Bishop Moore, getting payback," he said. "Because that's sour in my mouth."

79. Quandale Inmon, Gibbs

Position: Wide receiver

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 5-10, 165


Quandale Inmon

Inmon was statistically the best receiver for the Gladiators (35 passes, 825 yards, 10 TDs).

Do you think it will take some time to get used to a new starting quarterback, Mar'quan Harris?

"Me and Mar'quan are like brothers. We're together every day. When he started at quarterback last year we had a lot of chemistry. I think it's going to be good, real good."

Are you ready to be the main target in the passing game?

"We're going to distribute the ball but I feel like this year I'm going to be the main target. I'm very excited for this. I'm going to be moving around on offense. I know teams are going to be focusing on me."

Are you going to play on defense also?

"This season I think I'm going to go back to playing DB also. I like to hit a little bit and I think I'm good at jamming (receivers). But I really like to play receiver. That's what I'm good at, catching passes and running with the ball."

What are the goals for this season?

"As a team, I want to get past the first round (of the playoffs). (Jefferson) was a good team so I can't say anything bad about that game (a 45-44 loss). But my goal for this year is to go over 1,000 receiving yards. I want to double my TDs."

80. Jerquan Newton, Clearwater Central Catholic

Position: Linebacker/wide receiver

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-1, 195


Jerquan Newton

Why we ranked him: After splitting time as a defensive lineman and linebacker last season, Newton will line up primarily as an outside linebacker. He posted big numbers as a junior, recording 93 tackles and tying for the team lead in sacks with seven. Coach Chris Harvey said Newton's role as an edge rusher should result in more than 100 tackles and a high number of sacks. Once again, Newton will have a limited role on offense as a receiver (seven catches, 67 yards in 2015). College interest started to pick up in the spring with a few offers, the biggest Division I-A one coming from Nevada.

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

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