To put it bluntly–Hillsborough County is LOADED with running backs that are ready to pile up the offers as the season continues. The county may have said goodbye to four-1,000+ yard backs due to graduation, but they return seven players that eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark including a 2,000-yard back. The county as a whole last season produced eleven 1,000+ rushers while having all-eleven of those players finish inside of the top-100 mark statistically in Florida. Those numbers don’t even tell the depth in the county last season accurately, as Hillsborough finished 2015 with an astounding 30 running backs inside of the top 300.
Without further delay, let’s dive right into the top ten–and beyond–in terms of rushers returning statistically. It’s no surprise that Jesuit’s Malik Davis is the top running back returning following his 2,337 yards and 28 touchdowns for the Tigers who were 5A semifinalists. Those numbers were good enough to land him fourth in the state last season. Number two on that list is Seffner Christian’s Karmi Mackey–who finished ninth in the state and only played in eight games–totaling 1,953 yards and 20 touchdowns while Tampa Catholic’s Devan Barrett and his 1,891 yards and 21 touchdowns were good for tenth in Florida last season–which is good enough for #3 in the county of guys returning.
Cambridge Christian’s Andrew Cunningham–just a sophomore–comes in at number four on this list after a 1,370 yard season to go with 25 touchdowns for the Lancers who made it all the way to the 2A State Finals. Armwood’s Darrian McNeal rounds out the top five–and is one of three Hawks on the list–after the athletic QB rushed for 1,238 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Class 6A finalists. Sophomore Brian Snead follows just behind his teammate at number six after he posted 1,227 yards last season along with 17 touchdowns. Lennard’s Jahyrn Bailey concludes the list of 1,000+ yard rushers at number seven. Bailey is recorded 1,220 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Longhorns last season.
Durant’s Jake Harris–a fullback nonetheless–posted a rock-solid 872 yards for the Cougars last season and that’s good enough for eighth-best on the returning list for 2016. Gaither’s Alex Rodriguez checks-in at number nine on the list following an 805 yard season with five touchdowns for the Cowboys–while Berkeley Prep’s Gordon Stetson rounds out the top ten returning rushers after a 776 yard season and eight touchdowns.
Guys that could be making life difficult for some of the players in the top ten this season? Well, we’ve got some of those for you as well. Robinson’s Anfernee Alston was a top-200 rusher in the state last season and would be #11 on this list after 774 yards for the Knights last season. Yashin Wooten as a sophomore for CDS totaled 740 yards and eight touchdowns for the Patriots and hopes to continue that for Alonso this fall. Armwood’s Erin Collins is number thirteen on the list with 688 yards and seven touchdowns, while Plant’s Dane Frantzen is #14 after a 661-yard season. Brandon’s Jordan Chavers (616-4), Jefferson’s Tyrese Spain (611-5), Hillsborough’s Duran Bell Jr. (592-3), and Tampa Bay Tech’s Trent Wyatt Jr. (567-4) all have shots at cracking a “top ten” by the end of this season as well and form numbers 15-18 on this list.
What about the guys that will be sorely missed? They are as follows: (in order of finish in the top 300)
#17 Markese Hargrove – Plant City (1,731yds-13td’s)
#47 Jayquese Dantley – Steinbrenner (1,269yds-13td’s)
#73 Braxton Harris – Newsome (1,168yds-10td’s)
#89 Miles Williams – Wharton (1,102yds-10td’s)
#121 Tykese Keaton-Baldwin – Plant (975yds-7td’s)
#126 Demarco Archie – Spoto (966yds-10td’s)
#158 Otis Williams – King (866yds-7td’s)
#170 Izzy Johnson – Riverview (822yds-4td’s)
#189 Bryce Blackmon – Strawberry Crest (763yds-5td’s)
#198 Nate Simmons – Newsome (749yds-9td’s)
#283 Quon Lambert – Riverview (591yds-4td’s)