Clemson can win its third national title in four years by beating LSU in tonight’s College Football Playoff national championship game (8 p.m., ESPN). The Tigers have become a powerhouse due in large part to stellar recruiting classes, which have included plenty of locals the past decade.
Former Tampa Bay Tech standout Deon Cain had more than 90 yards receiving and former East Lake star Artavis Scott executed a perfect pick play for the winning touchdown to lead Clemson past Alabama in a title game thriller three years ago at Raymond James Stadium.
Four area players — receiver T.J. Chase (Plant City), offensive lineman Will Putnam (Plant), punter Aidan Swanson (Jesuit/IMG) and defensive end Regan Upshaw Jr. (Alonso) — can finish as champions if Clemson wins again tonight. There are no area players on LSU’s roster.
That would also continue the trend of having at least one local finish as a national champion at every level of college football this season. Here are the others.
North Dakota State, Division I-AA (FCS) champion
RB Jalen Bussey, Fr., Tampa Catholic
WR Zach Mathis, R-Fr., Berkeley Prep
DB Cam Smith, Fr., Admiral Farragut
WR Christian Watson, So., Plant
West Florida, Division II champion
TE Larry Dalla Betta, So., Mitchell
OL Marshall Elam, R-Fr., Indian Rocks Christian
WR Nate Howard, Fr., Land O’ Lakes
DB Terry Limehouse Jr., R-So., Armwood
OL Riley Metheney, R-Sr., Countryside
LB Jerquan Newton, R-So., Clearwater Central Catholic
RB Jervon Newton, R-So., Clearwater Central Catholic
OL Joe Wintrick, R-Sr., Wharton
LB Peyton Xayasone, R-Fr., Countryside
North Central (Illinois), Division III champion
LB Daniel Slaughter, Fr., East Lake
LB John Daway, Fr., Blake