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 81-90.
81. Jerjuan Newton, Clearwater Central Catholic
Position: Wide receiver/defensive back
Height/weight: 6-0, 170
Three things to know about Newton:
1. Last year, Newton played with his three brothers, Jervon, Jerquan and Jerzahn. Identical twins Jervon and Jerquan graduated and report to Marist on Aug. 25. After wearing No. 22 last year, Jerjuan will wear No. 4, which Jervon had last season.
2. Used primarily as a receiver and defensive back, Newton put up modest numbers with six catches for 80 yards on offense and 33 tackles and an interception on defense, His numbers, especially on offense, should improve dramatically with the Marauders losing their top passer, top three rushers and leading receiver. He lined up at quarterback in the spring game and could play there, as well as running back, in some situations.
3. Newton already has offers from Cincinnati, Toledo and USF. That list should grow with Newton's expanded role this season.
Jim Damaske | Times
82. Timarcus Simpson, Sickles
Position: Defensive back
Height/weight: 6-0, 180
Simpson appears ready to break out in a big way after a frustrating campaign in 2016. In the fifth game of last season, a 27-0 loss to Plant, Simpson strained his ACL and didn't play the rest of the year. Simpson did not undergo surgery but rehabbed aggressively, ultimately becoming stronger and faster than ever. "I've never felt better before the start of a season," said Simpson, who currently has offers from Mercer, Liberty and Eastern Michigan. But Simpson believes that once he shows he's more than fully recovered, he expects more offers to flow in.
Scott Purks | Special to the Times
83. Lyndell Hudson, Central
Position: Offensive tackle/guard
Height/weight: 6-7, 335
One of the area's biggest linemen, Hudson paved the way for De'vonta Smith to rush for a school-record 2,913 yards and 33 touchdowns last season. He can play guard or tackle and is just as adept run blocking as he is protecting the quarterback. Once again, Hudson will be counted to anchor a line that will be breaking in a new featured back with the graduation of Smith. He also is trying to help the Bears build on last season's 6-4 record.
Brendan Fitterer | Special to the Times
84. Lawrance Toafili, Pinellas Park
Position: Running back
Height/weight: 6-0, 186
If first impressions are everything, then Toafili (Toe-A-Feel-e) is a name to remember. In the three games he played as a freshman on junior varsity, Toafili scored 11 touchdowns. In the first JV game against Osceola, he touched the ball seven times and scored on six of them, according to coach Kenny Crawford.
"Sometimes it wasn't even fair," Crawford said.
Still, Crawford had planned to keep Toafili on junior varsity for the entire season. But injuries to running backs Dale Foster and Ethan Blanchard forced Crawford to call up Toafili. Needless to say, his days on the junior varsity are over.
He carried the ball 29 times in five varsity games and gained 221 yards as a freshman. Along with Blanchard, Toafili will be the main ball carrier this year and likely for the next three years.
"He's got 1,000-yard potential, for sure," Crawford said. "We'll put in plays to get him the ball. And he's a receiving threat."
Dirk Shadd | Times
85. Osby Green, Boca Ciega
Height/weight: 5-11, 195
Now in his third year as a starter, Green could be one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the area. He threw for 841 yards in eight games last season and added 421 rushing yards. This season, according to coach Max Smith, Green will have the ball in his hands much more. Now that he's a senior, Smith will give Green many more chances to make plays. "Osby's going to have the opportunity to be one of the top players in the area," Smith said. "He's got a live arm and he's very, very accurate with his throws down field. So that should open up the deep passing game. He can also run. Next to our top back (Dsoni Ross), he's our next-best runner. He'll have the ball in the red zone a lot, so he should score a lot of touchdowns. He's the best quarterback that I've had here."
David W. Doonan | Special to the Times
86. Rolando Sims, Lakewood
Position: Strong safety
Height/weight: 5-8, 190
Sims is going to college. He doesn't know if it will be as a student or a student-athlete, but he's going to college. In an effort to make football a possibility at the next level, Sims has switched from linebacker to strong safety for his final high school season. He believes his height and weight might scare off college coaches at linebacker, despite having 95 tackles and five sacks last season.
Since the spring, Sims has been working out at strong safety.
"That's the position I'm going to play in college," he said. "Coaches can't really say anything because I'm back (from the line of scrimmage) now. They're going to see my speed and how I can get to the ball."
Throughout the summer, Sims said he will work on techniques and drills at his new position.
"It's a hard transition," Sims said. "I have to move my hips much differently. I've got to not only cover the receiver but if the ball is thrown to the other side then I have to turn and run. At linebacker, all I had to do was run to the hole or to the running back. It's a different ball game back there."
Sims will also play running back for the Spartans. He believes that position might also be a possibility in college. A solid student with a 3.7 grade-point average, Sims said he also hopes to get some academic scholarships, which would make him more attractive to college coaches.
"If I don't get any offers, maybe I could go to a school and walk on," Sims said. "I don't really have a dream school, but the area I'd like to play is in Georgia. I have family up there and down here, so they could see me play."
Dirk Shadd | Times
87. Ricardo Watson, Armwood
Height/weight: 6-0, 230
Watson has impressive athletic bloodlines with Armwood roots. His father, who has the same name, played basketball and was the quarterback for former coach Sean Callahan when he was first hired in 1990. The younger Watson has been on varsity since he was a freshman and racked up 67 tackles, a sack, an interception and a forced fumble last season. He has an offer from USF and is part of a heralded front seven for the Hawks that could have every starter signing with a Division I-A program in the next two seasons.
Special to the Times
88. Calvin Samuel, Zephyrhills Christian
Height/weight: 5-10, 170
Special to the Times
Samuel did a little of everything for Zephyrhills Christian after transferring from Pasco last season. He completed all three of his pass attempts for 74 yards, led the team in rushing with 695 yards and averaged 42.5 yards on his two receptions. We asked Samuel three questions about transferring, offers and being a well-rounded athlete.
What was the biggest change going from Pasco to Zephyrhills Christian?
"Well, that's where my mom wanted me to go to school. There really was not much of an adjustment. I knew that it didn't really matter where I played, whether it was a big school or not. You're still going to be looked at by colleges either way."
You have an offer from Warner. Is that more frustration or motivation having only one?
"It's more motivation because I believe I can play with anyone. I'll outperform someone at camp that has more offers and that motivates me and pushes me to become even better knowing that I'll get my opportunity, too."
You ran track the past three years. Any other sports you want to try before your high school career is finished?
"I'm going to play baseball this season for the first time since I was 12. And I'm going to wrestle for the first time. Everything I do is for fun. And I love competition, so I want to try as many things as possible."
89. Jontrey Hunter, Sickles
Height/weight: 6-2, 200
Three things to know about Hunter:
1. Hunter has played defensive back most of life in youth league football and in high school, but this year, for the first time, he says he is happy to lead his team as a quarterback. "I want to do whatever I can to help the team."
2. Hunter has nine strong college offers and is most definitely projected as a defensive back at the next level. USF and Iowa State are among the leaders for his services, but more offers are expected to flow in during the season.
3. Hunter loves to make up rap songs, most of the time at the spur of the moment involving whatever or whoever is around him. "We have a lot of fun with it."
Scott Purks | Special to the Times
90. Derrick Powell, Plant
Position: Wide receiver/cornerback
Height/weight: 5-10, 169
Powell is a transfer from Cambridge Christian, where he was a three-year starter. He is a cornerback first, but also a capable wide receiver. As a sophomore, he had seven interceptions. That clearly scared off quarterbacks in his junior season. With fewer passes coming his way, Powell had one interception last year and seven pass breakups. He also caught 12 passes and scored a touchdown.
Octavio Jones | Times
Compiled by staff writers Rodney Page and Bob Putnam, and correspondents Kelly Parsons and Scott Purks.