Throughout the remainder of August, the Times will take a position-by-position look at the North Suncoast's top players and units. Today we look at the area's best offensive linemen.
The five best
1. G Kamran Joyer, Sr., Wesley Chapel: A gentle giant of sorts. Don't mistake his silence for intimidation. He unleashes his emotion through sheer force, bulldozing over anything in his path. Joyer (6-2, 305 pounds) was pursued by schools such as Tennessee and Florida, and orally committed to USF over the summer.
2. Mylon Brown, Sr., Pasco: Brown stands almost a head taller than Joyer, and college scouts have said he has more potential. At 6-6, 300 pounds, the nephew of former NFL Pro Bowler (and Hernando High icon) Jerome Brown has a 7-foot wingspan, was impressive at a USF linemen camp this summer and has an offer from Vanderbilt.
3. Jim Peterson, Sr., Pasco: At 6-5, 250 pounds, he runs a 40-yard dash in about five seconds flat and can dead lift more than 500 pounds. He has the potential to stand out among the North Suncoast's elite and possibly land on a Division I roster.
4. T/TE Leon Orr, Jr., Gulf: An imposing package of size (6-4, 292 pounds), agility and smarts, Orr eventually could be Gulf's most heavily recruited player since Jim Watson. He reportedly turned heads at the University of Florida's "Friday Night Lights" camp and, according to coach Jay Fulmer, already has a qualifying test score.
5. G Kevin Grier, Sr., Central: Arguably Hernando County's fiercest run blocker, Grier (6-3, 305 pounds) has received interest from USF, Western Michigan and Florida International, among others.
Bound for a breakthrough in Hernando County
RT David Hines, Sr., Hernando: Though entering his fourth year as a starter, Hines (6-foot-5, 270 pounds) hasn't been as conspicuous as some of the others on this list, mostly because he has been mired on bad teams. But should the Leopards improve as expected, so will the college stock of this rangy veteran, who bench presses more than 360 pounds.
Bound for a breakthrough in Pasco County
C R.J. Nixon, Sr., Wesley Chapel: The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder is as menacing as they come, capable of disrupting the defensive pursuit and making key blocks to free up the Wildcat running backs.
Top five units
1. Hudson. Pasco County's most experienced group, anchored by seniors Steven Eanes, Buddy Stockton, Graham Wilkerson and Justin Pennington. Stockton moves from center to guard, where his agility will help him in pulling situations. Wilkerson has "amazing strength," according to quarterback Zack Wynn, and Eanes is a 300-pounder.
2. Pasco. Despite the loss of Eric Stroud and Chris Burgos, the Pirates appear to have a much improved line. Anchored by Brown and Peterson, they also have speedy guard Trevor Lane (6-1, 230), who qualified for state in weightlifting, Justin Gude (6-0, 250) and sophomore center Jamal Carter (6-0, 250).
3. Wesley Chapel. The Wildcats return great size and experience on a line that has mastered blocking in coach John Castelamare's Wing-T attack. Wesley Chapel leans on three returning starters in Nixon (6-foot-4, 300 pounds), right tackle Patrick Pate (6-3, 240), tight end Chris Pierre Charles (6-2, 225) and a pair of new guys on the left side in guard Jacob Battin (5-11, 188) and tackle Kyle Rutkowski (6-2, 204).
4. Hernando. The Leopards' front is loaded with veterans, including David Hines, right guard George Smith and center Trent Tracy. If these guys were collectively a bit bigger, they might be ranked even higher.
5. Mitchell. The Mustangs return three guys on a unit that averaged 220 rushing yards in 2007. Senior tackle Joe Crozier (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) might be the best of the group.
Joey Knight predicts the area's top offensive lineman to be: Joyer. It seems as if Joyer, whose brawn is exceeded only by his humility, has been lining up for Wesley Chapel since the Clinton administration. With a college scholarship to USF secured, Joyer, the area's most experienced and dominant run blocker, should perform with less pressure and more abandon this fall.
Izzy Gould predicts the area's top offensive lineman to be: Joyer. He's out to prove he is the best and wants to make schools such as Florida regret not offering him a scholarship. Add the fact he's blocking for Wildcats fullback and younger brother, Hunter, and Joyer has plenty of reason to rise above the rest.
Joey Knight and Izzy Gould, Times staff writers