1. Sports
  2. /
  3. HomeTeam

Tampa Bay can sweep college football titles with another Clemson win tonight

Every national champion (Division II, III and I-AA) in college football this season has multiple locals dotting the roster.
Clemson's T.J. Chase pulls in a reception during the first half of an Aug. 29 game against Georgia Tech. [RICHARD SHIRO  |  AP]
Clemson's T.J. Chase pulls in a reception during the first half of an Aug. 29 game against Georgia Tech. [RICHARD SHIRO | AP]
Published Jan. 13
Updated Jan. 13

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.

Related: North Dakota State-James Madison title tilt has Tampa Bay ties

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


  1. Kobe Knox, center, and Tampa Catholic regain the top spot in the rankings thanks to recent wins over Leesburg, Naples and Seffner Christian. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
    Tampa Catholic takes over the top spot again after an impressive showing last week.
  2. Tampa Prep's Arianna Mosley (10), center, challenges the Wesley Chapel defense during a December game. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    Little change at the top as the regular season winds down.
  3. Flag football players from left to right: Steinbrenner's Jacqueline Figueredo, Robinson's Emily Kemp, Leto's Anaily Mendoza, along with Martha Minahan at Monday night's (Jan. 20, 2020) sixth annual Bill Minahan scholarship awards dinner. [ERNEST HOOPER  |  Special to the Times]
    Chamberlain’s James Ash, Wharton’s Edwouens Marcelin, Steinbrenner’s Jacqueline Figueredo and Robinson’s Emily Kemp are also honored at the sixth annual awards banquet.
  4. Chamberlain offensive tackle Cesar Reyes said via Twitter on Sunday he plans to sign with USF. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The Bulls fortify depth at quarterback and on the offensive line.
  5. Jesuit's Brett Gerena (7) celebrates recovering a fumble in the third quarter of this past season's Class 5A region semifinals. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Times]
    The Black Knights have commitments for 2020 from five locals, the most of any Division I-A program in the country. And they may gain more.
  6. Saturday's Seminole Shootout was full of closely contested basketball action. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Berkeley Prep and Clearwater also pull out tight thrillers Saturday.
  7. You'll find Chimera Iloanya and Seffner Christian at the Lakewood MLK Holiday Classic this weekend. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Looking for some stellar hoops matchups this holiday weekend? Hosts Lakewood and Chamberlain have you covered.
  8. Hillsborough senior forward Cantia Rahming, right, is among the nation's leaders in rebounds per game. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The senior has been a menace on the boards after missing out on significant playing time in last year’s run to the state final four.
  9. In his one season at Middleton, Mike Williams led the grieving Tigers to a 5-5 record. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    The former Plant High player takes over for David Mitchell, who steps down to deal with health issues in his family.
  10. Florida receiver Josh Hammond (18) on the field during practice for the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field on Monday. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Plus Plant High product Jake Fruhmorgen’s journey from Clemson to UF to Baylor to the East-West Shrine Game.