Wednesday, November 22, 2017

HomeTeam 100: Players 51-60


Our sixth annual countdown of the top 100 football players in Tampa Bay — consisting of athletes who attend a public or private school in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco or Hernando counties. Past performances — spanning the fall, spring and summer — and promise of big things to come are all taken into consideration. Today: players 51-60.

51. AJ Hampton, Wharton

Position: Defensive back

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 5-11, 170

Your father, Alonzo Hampton, has been a football coach his entire life (most recently as a defensive backs/special teams coach with USF). Do you see yourself getting into coaching one day?

"I can see myself as a coach in a few years. I've been around the game my whole life and I've seen how my father has helped kids through coaching. That's the main thing, using football as a way to help kids get better prepared for life."

Your father and mother, Yolanda Hampton, were state high school track champions in Arkansas (mom won the 300 hurdles and dad won the 400 meters). Do you feel any pressure to win a state track title?

"(chuckles) I would like to win one (Hampton finished fourth in the 400 meters at the Class 4A state meet last spring and has run a personal-best 48.98 in the event). It's tough to win in Florida, but I think I might be able to do it next year."

What do you think is your greatest asset on the football field?

"Knowledge. I know the game after having been around it my whole life with my father. I know how to prepare and what to expect."


Scott Purks | Special to the Times

DB AJ Hampton

52. Justin McGriff, Jefferson

Position: Wide receiver/tight end

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-6, 210

One of the toughest plays for anyone to cover in Hillsborough County is the over-the-top pass to McGriff, who not only is 6 feet 6, but has tremendous leaping ability.

By the end of last season McGriff became so formidable that several opponents had to change their personnel to cover him.

"(Justin) came a long way from the first game of the season to the last," Jefferson coach Jeremy Earle said. "It was a pleasure to see how he grew with confidence."

McGriff, who also plays basketball and runs track, finished last football season with 27 catches for 518 yards, many of those coming in the season's second half.

McGriff's performance made such an impression that several colleges started bidding for his services, including UCF, where he committed.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Justin ends up playing tight end in college, because he has a body that is really going to fill out," Earle said. "Justin could really break out in the years to come."

HIGHLIGHTS: Justin McGriff.

Scott Purks | Special to the Times

WR/TE Justin McGriff

53. Armani Adams, Lakewood

Position: Defensive back

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-0, 190

Special to the Times

DB Armani Adams

Adams will not leave the field much this season. Committed to Arizona, he will be the Spartans' top defensive back after having 76 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions as a junior. He will also be used as wide receiver. He had a touchdown catch against Braden River in the spring game. And on special teams he will return punts. "He's just so rangy for us," coach Cory Moore said. "He started off as a wide receiver but we moved him to defense. He's mainly going to be a defensive back, but he also creates mismatches at receiver so we'll use him there some as well."

HIGHLIGHTS: Armani Adams.

54. Calvin Lockett, Largo

Position: Wide receiver/defensive back

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-2, 160

Lockett is a playmaker on both sides of the ball. He had 11 catches for 321 yards and three touchdowns last season, tops among returning receivers. He also was the only Packer to record two interceptions. A coveted recruit, Lockett has 19 offers and whittled that list to a top 11 last month that includes Iowa, USF, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin. He said he wants to have a decision made before the season. That way, Lockett can focus on his goals of 1,000 yards receiving and leading Largo back to the playoffs.

HIGHLIGHTS: Calvin Lockett.

Dirk Shadd | Times

WR/DB Calvin Lockett

55. Jaylin Jackson, Cambridge Christian

Position: Quarterback

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 5-10, 170

Three things to know about Jackson:

1. He has two nicknames, "Jackpot'' and "The Franchise.'' The second name was given to him by coach Bob Dare. "Without him nothing happens," Dare said. "He's the best player on the field. No matter what position he plays he's going to be the best one on the field."

2. He has started at quarterback since his sophomore year, going 23-2. The losses came in the playoffs. One was to Jacksonville University Christian in the Class 2A state final in 2015 and the other was the 2A region final last year to Northside Christian. "He's just a winner," Dare said.

3. Jackson likely will be a slot receiver in college, but he has played quarterback at Cambridge. Dare has also used him in the secondary in playoff games. As a sophomore, Jackson had an interception for a touchdown against Naples First Baptist in the state semifinal that the Lancers won 30-26.

HIGHLIGHTS: Jaylin Jackson.

Andres Leiva | Times

QB Jaylin Jackson

56. Michael Weston, Nature Coast

Position: Running back

Year: Junior

Height/weight: 6-1, 215

Nature Coast has churned out running backs year after year recently. Weston is next in line. As a sophomore he got 109 carries, third highest on the team, and gained 797 yards. His 13 touchdowns were second on the team behind starting running back T.J. Owens (21). Both Owens and second-leading rusher Brian Haygood have graduated, so Weston will be the featured back. He missed the spring due to a hamstring injury, but should be good to go this fall.

HIGHLIGHTS: Michael Weston.

Loren Elliott | Times

RB Michael Weston

57. DeAndre Hollins, Jefferson

Position: Defensive back

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-2, 190

Three things to know about Hollins

1. With his 3.8 grade-point average, Hollins made academics as much of a priority as the football program when choosing his college. Hollins ended up covering both priorities, committing to the University of North Carolina.

2. Hollins is one of the best long jumpers in the state, finishing fifth overall at the Class 2A state meet and ranking seventh overall in the state with a personal-best leap of 23.43 feet.

3. After playing junior varsity as a freshman, and serving mostly as a backup in his sophomore season, Hollins consistently started for the first time last season and his college stock quickly shot up. In 2016, Hollins basically shut out every receiver he covered.

HIGHLIGHTS: DeAndre Hollins.

Scott Purks | Special to the Times

DB DeAndre Hollins

58. Caleb Sutherland, Armwood

Position: Linebacker

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-0, 187

Sutherland's father is Brandon coach Isaac Anderson, who played for former Hawks coach Sean Callahan. Last season, Sutherland was one of the leaders on the area's best linebacking unit, finishing with 44 tackles, three sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception. He also stands out in the classroom and has offers from Columbia, Air Force, Pennsylvania and Navy, among others. Earlier this month, he committed to Toledo.

HIGHLIGHTS: Caleb Sutherland.

Charlie Kaijo | Times

LB Caleb Sutherland

59. Ty Thompson, Plant

Position: Running back/defensive back

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-1, 215

Thompson could say he wears No. 15 because his parents were big fans of a certain Heisman-winning quarterback from Florida.

Truth is, Thompson has the number because it was given to him.

The No. 15 may be purely coincidental but Thompson does emulate Tim Tebow's versatility.

In elementary school, Thompson admitted he was "chubby." Youth league coaches turned him into a defensive lineman. Thompson longed to be a skills position player so he started running AAU track to lose weight.

He played receiver and defensive back. Once Thompson got to Plant, he was a junior varsity quarterback playing behind Judge Culpepper. The Panthers needed running backs so Thompson volunteered.

After playing his sophomore season primarily as a defensive back, Thompson was permanently moved to running back. Last season, he became Plant's primary ball carrier and rushed for 827 yards and nine touchdowns.

Thompson now has 14 offers from Division I-A schools, all to play running back.

"The coaches asked me if I wanted to change my number this year," Thompson said. "I'll keep it. I couldn't ask for a better situation the way things turned out."

HIGHLIGHTS: Ty Thompson.

Monica Herndon | Times

RB/DB Ty Thompson

60. Patrick Keenan, Blake

Position: Defensive lineman/wide receiver/tight end

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-6, 215

Keenan is a four-sport athlete — football, basketball, baseball and track — and it's that versatile athleticism that makes him a dynamic defensive lineman, particularly as a pass rusher. Keenan, who collected 8.5 sacks last year, could easily jump into double-digit sacks this year, given the fact that he's gotten quicker and stronger. Keenan already has double-digit scholarship offers when it comes to colleges, including USF.

HIGHLIGHTS: Patrick Keenan.

Octavio Jones | Times

DL/WR/TE Patrick Keenan

Compiled by staff writers Rodney Page and Bob Putnam, and correspondents Kelly Parsons and Scott Purks.


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