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Class of 2015 marked by versatile, speedy playmakers

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Sat. January 25, 2014 | John C. Cotey | Email

Class of 2015 marked by versatile, speedy playmakers

If the class of 2014 was defined by its size, the class of 2015 may be defined by its stealth.

Sure, you still have the beef, like Plant offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen (6-5, 280) and Armwood defensive lineman Byron Cowart (6-4, 250). But scanning the list of Tampa Bay’s top football prospects for the upcoming season, you are stuck by the speed.

The versatility.

The potential for playmaking.

“This class,’’ says Sickles running back Ray Ray McCloud III, “has a lot of athletes in it.”

While the Tampa Bay Times’ final 2014 rankings are headed up by East Lake receiver Artavis Scott, offensive linemen occupied five of the next six spots. Of 25 players ranked, nine are hogs who opened holes to the tune of thousands and thousands of rushing yards.

Two others played defensive line, and six were linebackers.

Where’s the beef? There’s the beef.

Then consider the players we expect to be the stars of the 2015 class.

Our top 25 is led by East Lake receiver George Campbell, one of the fastest and most recruited players because of his size (6-3, 184), speed (clocked at various combines at 4.35-4.4) and versatility (is he a pass catcher? A pass rusher? A pass defender?).

ESPN ranks the former Michigan commitment the second-best junior prospect. Rivals ranks him No. 7, Scout has him No. 16 and 247Sports puts him at No. 26.

In Tampa Bay, there is little argument — with the exception of those in Seffner, where a good case can be made for Cowart — that Campbell is the most sought-after recruit.

McCloud is a 2,300-yard rusher and coveted as a defensive back as well, and we ranked him No. 4, though the national recruiting services don’t see it that way.

The galloping Gryphon is joined in the top 10 by Tampa Bay Tech athlete Deon Cain, Hillsborough quarterback Dwayne Lawson,

Wharton wide receiver Auden Tate, and Lakewood quarterback Ryan Davis is No. 11.
Cain — who plays quarterback at TBT but will be a wideout in college — and Tate are big receivers, and two of the hottest names this offseason.

That’s a whole lot of offensive firepower, even if McCloud, Cain and Davis don’t play the positions in high school they are projected to in college.

As a group, the offensive stars of the 2015 HomeTeam top 25 have almost 100 offers, with many more to come.

While typically balanced with a little bit of everything, every class is different. Sometimes a certain position stands out.

In 2012, pass rushers like Dante Fowler, Tyriq McCord, Jeremi Powell and Eric Striker dominated the top of the list.

Quarterbacks (Robert Marve, Stephen Garcia, L.D. Crow, Alton Voss) dominated the list in 2007, wide receivers (Johnny Peyton, Jermain Filer, Brandon Williams) in 2004, and sometimes even kickers find their way on the list, like 1994 when Jesuit’s Jay Feely and Pasco’s Brent Locklier made it.

And while the top of this year’s list seems dominated by big, versatile playmakers, others shine as well.

We argued about Nos. 2 and 3 when it came to Fruhmorgen and Cowart. Lithe Freedom lineman Scott Patchan is at No. 6, and Nature Coast Tech offensive lineman Christian Pellage is No. 7.

There are sleepers, like Pasco linebacker Bowman Archibald (though we couldn’t resist putting him in the top 10), Largo linebacker Jonathan Crawford and Robinson wide receiver Jahrvis Davenport, who could climb this list.

Players like East Bay lineman Marques Ford, Wiregrass Ranch linebacker Jaye Miner and Lakewood defensive back Sekendric Biddines are the only ones listed without offers, but we’re guessing that changes soon.

And who’s to say guys like Pinellas Park receiver/cornerback Rashaan Watson, Admiral Farragut cornerback Isadore Wood or Clearwater Central Catholic quarterback Jeff Smith — none of whom we have currently ranked — don’t beat them to it.

One thing is certain: it should be another banner year for Tampa Bay, which is in the midst of a superb run of great recruiting classes.

John C. Cotey can be reached at cotey@tampabay.com. Find him on Twitter @JohnnyHomeTeam.

HomeTeam top 25 for 2015
Name, school    Position    Ht/Wt    Offers

1. George Campbell, East Lake    ATH    6-3/184    Clemson, Florida, FSU, Michigan
2. Jake Fruhmorgen, Plant     OL    6-5/280    Florida, Alabama, FSU, Tennessee
3. Byron Cowart, Armwood    DL    6-4/250    Auburn, Florida, Oregon, Alabama
4. Ray Ray McCloud III, Sickles    RB/DB    5-10/174    Florida, Clemson, Ohio State, Wisconsin
5. Deon Cain, TB Tech    ATH    6-3/192    Florida, FSU, Ohio State, Miami
6. Scott Patchan, Freedom    DE    6-6/225    Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State
7. Christian Pellage, Nature Coast    OL    6-7/275    Miami, USF, UCF
8. Bowman Archibald, Pasco    LB    6-6/240    Florida, USF, Tennessee, Kentucky
9. Auden Tate, Wharton    WR    6-4/195    Michigan State, FSU, Louisville
10. Dwayne Lawson, Hillsborough    QB    6-5/205    Mississippi State, USF
11. Ryan Davis, Lakewood    ATH    5-10, 170    FSU, Arizona, Mississippi State, USF
12. Aaron Covington, Armwood    DB    5-9/175    UCF, Cincinnati, Toledo
13. Jonathan Crawford, Largo    S/LB    6-2/175    Indiana, Middle Tennessee, UCF
14. Carson Lydon, East Lake    LB    6-2/235    USF, UCF, Boston College
15. Jordan Griffin, Armwood    LB    6-0, 207    Marshall, UCF
16. Damian King, Indian Rocks Christian    ATH    5-10/170    West Virginia
17. Brad Mayes, Berkeley Prep    QB    6-2/192    UMass, Akron
18. Billy Atterbury, CCC        OL    6-4/275    Cincinnati, FIU
19. Derrick Baity, Plant        DB    6-2/170    USF, UCF
20. Nate Ferguson, Gaither    DB    5-9/160    South Alabama
21. Marques Ford, East Bay    DL    6-4/220    
22. Jahrvis Davenport, Robinson    WR    5-9/175    Marshall, Tulane, FIU
23. Andrew Ivie, Pasco    OL/DL    6-3/260    USF
24. Jaye Miner, Wiregrass Ranch    LB    6-3/200           
25. Sekendric Biddines, Lakewood    WR/DB    5-11/160
Note: Some recruits have double-digit offers; this is a sampling.

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