Picking the “best” isn’t as easy–or as fun–as it may seem. It’s downright stressful in this day-and-age when everyone already thinks that they know who the top dogs in the kennel. Opinions get taken for statements of fact and people get their feelings hurt. We expect several folks in Pinellas County will have their own opinions about ours, but when it comes to naming the top five quarterbacks in the county, opinions–not facts–may be all we have until the games are in full-swing. The numbers may tell one story, but the returning talent surrounding the signal-callers is another. Just because big things happened in 2015 doesn’t guarantee an even bigger ’16.
Perhaps this list could be labeled as “the five with the biggest upside” or something to that effect, but nonetheless these are the five “top” guys coming back and with a little reasoning behind it. Again, don’t fall victim to the numbers from last year–even though they’re important. And most significantly know this–size matters–which is why a few “obvious” names might be off the list, but don’t fret–we’ve got them mentioned as well. Here they are in alphabetical order.
Griffin Alstott – Northside Christian (2017)
The Mustangs did a lot of good things last year and Alstott’s performance was significant to say the least. Now that he’s committed to Purdue ending the recruiting process nice and early, Alstott hopes to best his 1,700+ yards passing that he hit in ’15. We’ve heard some pretty good things regarding his 7-on-7 circuit thus far, and that bodes well for him obviously and for Northside. Alstott’s got the arm strength and the size at 6-2/200 that you look for and will be expected to put the squad on his back this season.
Chad Cann Jr. – Dixie Hollins (2017)
The wide-range of athleticism that Cann Jr. brings to the position earns him a nod on top of his solid play and development as a QB over the years. He played tight end his sophomore season totaling 140 yards on just seven receptions, but has trained for the past three seasons as a quarterback. His junior season after gaining controls of the ship, he threw for 1,400+ yards for the Rebels in his initial season as a starter. Cann Jr’s offseason appearance at Ignite did not disappoint and we expect him to turn some heads for Dixie and get some looks.
Austin Day – Clearwater (2017)
It’s Day’s team following the Garrison Bryant’s senior season. The Tornadoes’ biggest asset perhaps IS Day since someone has to effectively distribute the ball to all of their talent at the skill positions. Day saw time at the spot the last two seasons, but now that he’s added some weight and size–6-1/175–he’s got all the physical makings of a leader on the field with his talent as well as the mental makings with his teammates trusting him and knowing it’s his show to run.
Jakob Parks – Clearwater Central Catholic (2017)
Parks was a 2,000+ yard passer last season and guided the Marauders to their first undefeated season in school history. His biggest asset was throwing just three interceptions to a whopping 20 touchdowns. His 6-foot-4, 200+ frame paired with his arm and decision-making one of the best prospects on this list. The Marauders are absolutely loaded at the running back position, so regardless of whether or not he eclipses that mark in ’16 is irrelevant. This young man is firmly cemented as one of the county’s best.
Jaylen Shazell – Lakewood (2018)
The lone underclassmen on this top five list, but with good reason. He’s got a nice frame to work with at 6-0/175-pounds, but Shazell was super-prodcutive in his eight games at the position and is poised for another big year with Matthew Landers transferring in from Admiral Farragut. Shazell was very efficient completing 64-percent of his passes for 1,165 yards splitting duties with other teammates and finished the season with 15 touchdown rushing and passing.
Other guys that will force us to re-evaluate this list–hopefully sooner, rather than later are:
Austin Causey – Admiral Farragut (5-11/150): Threw for 1,800+ yards and 20 touchdowns last season, but will have to adapt to life without Landers as mentioned.
Richie Mize – Calvary Christian (5-10/175): Super productive high school football player Mize is–2,000+ total yards and seventeen touchdowns for the Warriors last season.
Keon Gulley – Northeast (6-0/145): Gulley was just a freshman last season, but wait until he gets some more experience under his belt and he just might be the first prospect to unseat someone on this list. Sky is the limit for Gulley.