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: Jr., Nature Coast
Ht/wt: 6-7, 255
Breakdown: The Sharks have built a tradition of having strong rushing attacks. If they continue it this year, Pellage’s blocking will likely be a big reason why. He picked up offers from USF and Virginia after his sophomore season, and 247Sports considers him a four-star prospect.
Class, school: Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic
Ht/wt: 6-3, 225
Breakdown: The Virginia recruit is a fierce pass rusher who led the team in sacks last season (nine). He is part of a stellar linebacking unit that helped the Marauders record a school-record seven shutouts in 2012. Brown also could see time as a defensive end because of the depth at linebacker.
Class, school: Sr., Sickles
Ht/wt: 6-5, 285
Breakdown: A Missouri commitment with a qualifying test score, Hudson and 275-pound guard Deandre Mclean form an imposing right side behind which Division I prospect Ray Ray McCloud should run at will. Steer clear of him in the hours before a game; Hudson stokes himself by punching lockers.
Class, school: Jr., Largo
Ht/wt: 6-1, 180
Breakdown: Crawford is still under the radar — though he has offers from Middle Tennessee State and Connecticut — but look for 2013 to be his breakout season. A standout on the basketball court as well, Crawford has the size, hands and athleticism to be one of the area’s best safeties, and is part of one of the county’s best receiving corps.
Class, school: Jr., Largo
Ht/wt: 5-10, 155
Breakdown: Campbell, who displays blazing speed, came up big in most of 2012’s unbeaten regular-season run, finishing as the team leader in yards (523) and touchdown receptions (nine). Campbell’s numbers might not improve significantly considering Largo’s offense is as deep at receiver as any team in the county. But he can come through in the clutch and should be one of the most dependable targets for new quarterback Donavan Hale.
Class, school: Sr., Tampa Bay Tech
Ht/wt: 5-8, 170
Breakdown: Thompson built some buzz during the spring after rushing for 125 yards and two touchdowns in only a half against Wharton. Not long after, he picked up offers from Bethune Cookman, UMass and Marshall. Expect more to come as Thompson — who averaged 6.6 yards per carry and scored nine TDs in 2012 — teams with junior quarterback Deon Cain to form one of the area’s most electrifying backfields
Class, school: Sr., Pasco
Ht/wt: 5-10, 170
Breakdown: When an injury sidelined star athlete Janarion Grant the first six games last season, Johns scored 10 touchdowns and returned punts for a score in each of the first four games. Only Grant — a Rutgers signee — and David Emmanuel had more than his 12 total touchdowns. Johns won’t be expected to duplicate Grant’s success, but will play all over the field like Grant, lining up at running back, receiver, wildcat quarterback, defensive back and kick/punt returner.
Class, school: Sr., Jefferson
Ht/wt: 6-1, 185
Breakdown:Don’t let the trash talk and colorful personality fool you: Ingram has a lot of bite to go with that bark. Ingram caught 28 passes for 499 yards in 2012, catching touchdowns — nine total — in every game but two. The Ohio commit will play some safety this fall, with the Dragons hoping to get the most out of his ball-skills and field awareness.
Class, school: Sr., Strawberry Crest
Ht/wt: 6-4, 210
Breakdown: Barring something catastrophic, this rangy two-way talent will be the five-year-old program’s first BCS signee, already holding offers from USF, Cincinnati, Iowa State and others. Carswell, who is being recruited on both sides of the ball as a tight end, defensive end and linebacker, had 22 catches, 30 tackles and two caused fumbles as a junior.
Class, school: Sr., Tampa Catholic
Ht/wt: 6-2, 230
Breakdown:Watson led the area with 16.5 sacks last season, and of his 161 tackles, 25 were for losses totalling roughly 200 yards. Watson, who has added some size, speed and new moves to try out on would-be blockers, should also see a bigger role on offense this fall as a tight end.