Our second annual countdown of the top 100 football players in Tampa Bay — compiled after a spring and summer of evaluating talent, and a couple of brawls between staffers.
Class, school: Sr., East Lake
Ht/wt: 5-10, 175
Breakdown: A playmaker extraordinaire, Scott has combined for 2,281 yards receiving and 24 touchdowns the past two seasons as he helped quarterback and best friend Pete DiNovo become the career passing leader in Pinellas County. DiNovo is gone, but it doesn’t appear Scott’s production will fall off. In the spring against Osceola, Scott hauled in two long receptions (from different quarterbacks) for touchdowns and added two long returns for scores. The four-star recruit, considered one of the top 10 receivers in the nation, announced last month that he will attend Clemson.
Quotable: “I’m on a mission. That’s the hash tag I’m going to use this season, and you can print that.” — Scott
Class, school: Jr., East Lake
Ht/wt: 6-4, 185
Breakdown: Campbell, who committed to Michigan this month, might be the most physically-gifted player in an area that is full of them. His size is a defense’s nightmare. He was the talk of a scouting combine, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds. His vertical leap of 37 inches means no one can match him when the ball is in the air. Last year, he put all of those tools together to become a bona fide receiving threat with 766 yards and 12 touchdowns. His breakthrough performance helped him rocket up the rankings as a five-star recruit and the nation’s top receiver in the class of 2015.
Quotable: “My goal is to win states. That’s what it’s all about this season.” — Campbell
Class, school: So., Pasco
Ht/wt: 6-3, 200
Breakdown: His 100-yard, two-touchdown playoff performance was one of the lone bright spots in the Pirates’ Class 5A region final loss at Robinson. Craig hasn’t dropped out of the spotlight since then, earning more than a dozen offers from Florida, Florida State and others while watching his older brother, Josh Johnson, head to the NFL. He’s already one of the state’s top recruits for the class of 2016.v “I don’t have an answer for that.” — Pasco coach Tom McHugh on where Craig needs to improve the most
Class, school: Sr., East Lake
Ht/wt: 6-4, 285
Breakdown: Cole is an ideal left tackle with long arms to keep pass rushers at bay and hands big enough that when he grabs ahold of a defender it means something. In an offense with a constellation of stars, Cole might be the most important piece. The Michigan recruit protected the blindside of quarterback Pete DiNovo the past two years. Now, Cole, a four-star recruit, is responsible for keeping whoever starts at quarterback in one piece.
Quotable: “I’m already an All-American so I don’t know how many more personal goals I have. I’m just trying to work as hard as ever to help us win a state title.” — Cole
Class, school: Sr., Largo
Ht/wt: 5-10, 175
Breakdown: The USF recruit is strong and powerful, running through opposing defensive lines, over linebackers and past secondaries again and again the past three years. His style of running has led to injuries, but he stayed healthy most of last season and rushed for a career-best 1,186 yards and 16 touchdowns. Stewart could equal those numbers in an offense that will count on him to take the load off new quarterback Donavan Hale.
Quotable: “Jarvis is a combination of Dexter McCluster and Brynn Harvey. He’s fast, but he’s physical, too.” — Largo coach Rick Rodriguez
Class, school: Sr., Armwood
Ht/wt: 6-0, 175
Breakdown: The elder statesman on a Hawks team brimming with talented juniors, Gibson enters his third season as a starter. The prototypical secondary headhunter, he had four picks and 74 tackles as a junior, creating general havoc over the middle. Projected as either a safety or corner at the next level, he recently committed to Vanderbilt, becoming the highest-rated defensive back (13th nationally) of the Rivals.com era to pledge to the Commodores.
Quotable: “He sees himself making big plays. Very instinctive.” — Armwood coach Sean Callahan
Class, school: Sr., Plant City
Ht/wt: 6-4, 330
Breakdown: Arguably no player on this list enjoyed a more prosperous offseason than this Raiders behemoth, who dazzled at a series of elite camps and combines before committing to Alabama. McBride’s girth, strength and sleekness has prompted more than one analyst to liken him to a defensive end playing offensive guard. What’s more, his jocular nature plays well in the locker room.Quotable: “In how he leads his teammates and how he finishes out blocks, the kid is relentless. Of course he has exceptional athleticism for his size but his drive and ability to finish stands out consistently.” — Plant City defensive coordinator Greg Meyer
Class, school: Sr., Tampa Bay Tech
Ht/wt: 6-2, 180
Breakdown: If there’s a glaring weakness in Fullwood’s game, it would have to be kicking. After Fullwood went 0-for-3 on extra-point attempts — with none even making it over the offensive line — in the spring jamboree against Wharton, TBT coach Jayson Roberts said he’d work on finding a more suitable replacement in the fall. But when it comes to running, catching, tackling, pass coverage and occasionally passing, Fullwood does it all at a high level. The USF commit has excelled all over the field for the Titans, and after a breakout spring and summer, the Titans can’t wait to deploy their versatile threat in the fall.
Quotable: “Tajee is a phenomenal athlete with elite ball skills and body control. His versatility makes him a threat to score from anywhere in all three phases of the game.” — Roberts
Class, school: Sr., Nature Coast
Ht/wt: 6-5, 215
Breakdown: The former elite basketball prospect completed his transition to football star last year. His 15 sacks were among the most in the North Suncoast and helped him earn offers from USF, Miami, Nebraska and others. A bulked-up Blackwood should terrorize quarterbacks as one of Tampa Bay’s top defensive talents.
Quotable: “That first step, he’ll be off the ball. He always beats everybody.” — Nature Coast RB DeShawn Smith
Class, school: Sr., Lakewood
Ht/wt: 6-2, 269
Breakdown: By the end of his junior year, Wynn was identified by most college coaches and recruiting services as one of the top linemen in the country. He was invited to play at The Opening in Beaverton, Ore., in June, a camp for elite high school prospects. Just a few weeks later, Wynn committed to Georgia. He is a wide-bodied lineman who moves players off the ball. When Lakewood needs tough yards, they run behind Wynn.
Quotable: “For me it’s all about getting better and better. I want to get better at the fundamentals and make sure Lakewood has a good season.’’ — Wynn