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College Football

Big Ten’s postponement has a big impact locally

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On Tuesday, the Big Ten postponed its college football season, becoming the first power five not to play this fall.

The Big Ten still is hoping to play in the spring, but the decision has a significant impact locally.

Three coaches, Illinois’ Lovie Smith, Minnesota PJ Fleck and Rutgers’ Greg Schiano, were either head coaches or assistants with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Indiana’s Tom Allen was a head coach at now defuct Temple Heights and served as an assistant at Armwood and USF.

And that’s just the coaches.

There are 30 players with area ties currently on Big Ten rosters, including 10 at Indiana.

Here is the list.

Illinois

QB Deuce Spann, Fr., Lakewood

LB Jake Hansen, Sr., East Lake

DL Tre’von Riggins, Fr., Lakewood

LB Khalan Tolson, Jr., Admiral Farragut

DL Johnny Newton, Fr., CC Catholic

DL Quinton McCoy, Fr., Bloomingdale

Indiana

WR Whop Philyor, Sr., Plant

DB Juwan Burgess, R-Jr., Plant

LB James Miller, R-So., Armwood

QB Michael Penix Jr., R-So., Tampa Bay Tech

DL Jonathan King, R-So., Tampa Bay Tech

LB D.K. Bonhomme, So., Clearwater Academy 

LB Thomas Allen, R-Jr., Plant

LB Micah McFadden, Jr., Plant

DL Sio Nofoagatoto’a, So., Clearwater Academy

DL Tramar Reece, R-Jr., Clearwater

Iowa

DB Dane Belton, So., Jesuit

WR Quavon Matthews, Fr., Largo

WR Calvin Lockett, So., Largo

Maryland

OL Zach Perkins, Fr., Berkeley Prep

DL Titi Almosse, Fr., Jefferson

Michigan

LB Jaylen Harrell, Fr., Berkeley Prep

Minnesota

DB Solomon Brown, So., Largo

LB James Gordon IV, So., Plant City

Northwestern

WR Wayne Dennis Jr., R-Fr., Armwood

Ohio State

OL Nicholas Petit-Frere, So., Berkeley Prep

Penn State

RB Keyvone Lee, Fr., American Collegiate

DT Judge Culpepper, So., Plant

Rutgers

DL Malik Barrow, Sr., Tampa Catholic/IMG

LB Jack Del Rio, Fr., Clearwater Central Catholic

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Lakewood’s Amari Niblack commits to Alabama

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Lakewood’s Amari Niblack had offers from 15 schools entering this week, including Florida, Florida State, Georgia and LSU. 

Then Niblack went to a camp at Alabama and picked up an offer from the Crimson Tide. 

That was all the three-star prospect needed to make up his mind. 

On Thursday, Niblack announced on social media that he committed to Alabama. 

A 6-foot-4 pass catching target, Niblack can play receiver or tight end. This past season, he had seven receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns according to the stats listed on MaxPreps. 

This is the second straight season Alabama has landed an area receiver and the third time in the past five seasons the Crimson Tide has picked a local skill player.

Agiye Hall, who starred at Armwood and Bloomingdale, was part of the 2021 class. He was an early enrollee and has already made an impact with several highlight-worthy catches in the spring game. 

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Football: Local list of 2022 commits

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The Tampa Bay area always produces a tremendous amount of football talent. This year is no different. Several seniors have already pledged their allegiance to colleges. Here is the list, which is expected to grow considerably in the next few months. 

Armwood

WR Kye Stokes

College: Ohio State

Berkeley Prep

LB TJ Bullard

College: UCF

TE CJ Hawkins

College: Florida

Related: Berkeley Prep’s CJ Hawkins commits to Florida

Calvary Christian

OL Preston Cushman

College: Mississippi

Carrollwood Day

DL Brandon Cleveland

College: North Carolina State

Clearwater Academy

CB Rhyland Kelly

College: Minnesota

Clearwater Central Catholic

LB Melvin Jordan 

College: Oregon State

Gaither

DL Mario Eugenio

College: Michigan

Hillsborough

RB Jordaan Bailey

College: Pittsburgh

DB Adrian Ramsey

College: Howard

LB Joseph Sipp Jr.

College: Colorado State

Jesuit

WR Jaydn Girard

College: Wake Forest

ATH Junior Vandeross

College: Toledo

Related: Jesuit’s Junior Vandeross commits to Toledo

King

OT Tony Livingston

College: Florida

Related: Tony Livingston transfers to King

Lakewood

TE Amari Niblack

College: Alabama

Pinellas Park

PK Robert Gunn III

College: Clemson

Related: Pinellas Park’s Robert Gunn III commits to Clemson

Sickles

WR Javohn Thomas

College: USF

Tampa Catholic

OL Chris Williams

College: Florida A&M

Wharton

LB Daveon Crouch

College: Boston College

Wiregrass Ranch

QB Rocco Becht

College: Iowa State

Related: Wiregrass Ranch’s Rocco Becht commits to Iowa State

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Pinellas Park’s Robert Gunn III commits to Clemson

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Kickers typically are not offered scholarships while they are in high school. Most at the Division I-A level arrive as walk-ons with the chance to earn a scholarship based on their performance. 

Robert Gunn III is not your typical kicker. 

The Pinellas Park senior is ranked as the nation’s best at the position in the Class of 2022 according to Kicking World. That lofty status got the attention of college coaches.

Gunn III already has offers from six colleges, including Clemson and Texas.

The offer from the Tigers came on June 13 during an unofficial visit. Two days later, Gunn III ended the recruiting process by committing to Clemson. 

“I wanted to go to Clemson because of the people and how they care about the school so much,” Gunn III said. 

The Tigers have been successful landing area special teams stars. Former Jesuit and IMG standout Aidan Swanson will be a redshirt sophomore punter for Clemson this season. 

Now the Tigers will have an area kicker, too. 

This past season, Gunn III hit both of his field goal attempts and had 16 of his 19 kickoffs go for touchbacks. He also averaged 44 yards per punt.  

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