Saturday, August 18, 2018

As NFL draft nears, local history not in QB Chase Litton’s corner

A few days back, our own Matt Baker indicated how former Sickles High/Clemson star Ray-Ray McCloud is fighting against a fierce undercurrent of local history in his quest to get drafted.

Turns out, he's not the only one. The odds, at least from a historical context, also are stacked against former Wharton/Marshall QB Chase Litton.

In the past 50 years, only three quarterbacks from Hillsborough County high schools — Robinson's John Reaves (1972), Leto's Gary Huff ('73) and Plant's Aaron Murray ('14) — have been selected as QBs in the NFL Draft.

Which is to say Litton, who bypassed his senior season at Marshall, is trying to do what historic Hillsborough slingers Kenny Kelly, Russell Evans, Stephen Garcia, Quentin Williams and Robert Marve could not.

RELATED: Despite warnings to stay in school, Chase Litton confident about draft prospects

Difference is, Litton has a far more prototypical NFL frame (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) than any of those guys. And while his well-documented off-field smudges could hurt his stock, his size and skill set (i.e. velocity, ability to burn man coverage over the top) could prompt a team to take a chance on him.

Consider Mel Kiper Jr.'s recent comments (per the Washington Post): "And a guy in the fifth, sixth, seventh round that could be interesting, if you can put him on the shelf for a couple of years, Chase Litton from Marshall.

"Had he gone back to Marshall and had a big year, he probably would have been a second-round pick. Now you may be able to get a guy like Litton in the fifth or sixth round."

Their phone never rang

Some legendary Hillsborough County prep quarterbacks who went undrafted

C.J. Bennett, Alonso: 2009 Guy Toph Award winner played at South Alabama and Murray State, now running backs coach at Samford

Reche Caldwell, Jefferson: Granted, this former dual-threat quarterback at Jefferson was drafted (Chargers, second round, 2002), but as a receiver

Russell Evans, Plant City: Parade All-American in early '90s became a juco Hall-of-Famer in Mississippi

Stephen Garcia, Jefferson: Now local private QBs coach after checkered-but-prolific career at South Carolina

Gary Godsey, Jesuit: 1998 Guy Toph Award winner transitioned to tight end at Notre Dame, now a commercial real estate executive in Tampa

Jay Gruden, Chamberlain: Became a 7,000-yard passer at Louisville in late 1980s, won four ArenaBowl titles as Tampa Bay Storm quarterback

Terry Jordan, Gaither: 3,000-yard passer at Gaither (in mid-80s) went on to throw for more than 3,500 yards at N.C. State. Later played briefly for Tampa Bay Storm

Kenny Kelly, Tampa Catholic: After three seasons at Miami including one as a starter, Kelly (a 1997 Devil Rays second-round pick) switched to baseball

Robert Marve, Plant: After leading Plant to '06 state title, signed with Miami and later transferred to Purdue. Now a bay area QB coach

Quentin Williams, Jefferson: Florida's 2010 Mr. Football threw for 6,000 yards at Bethune-Cookman, signed with Winnipeg of CFL in early 2016 and was cut that spring

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