They shall return: Pinellas’ top RB’s coming back in ’16

[[Adarius Lemons (#32) circa 2014--is the #2 returning RB in yardage in Pinellas County]]
[[Adarius Lemons (#32) circa 2014–is the #2 returning RB in yardage in Pinellas County]]
Can you feel it? Spring is in the air–which also means that spring football is not far away. With that in mind, we started looking at the running back situations heading into spring ball at the schools throughout the six counties and begin with Pinellas County. There are plenty of high-profile players returning throughout the county, and that’s even with plenty of highly-producing seniors moving on due to graduation. Dare we say it, but from top to bottom heading into the spring–and perhaps beyond–that Pinellas is as deep as their neighbors directly across the bay to the East, and anywhere around, but we’ll let those players determine that assessment for themselves fair-and-square as the season(s) progress.

Per, we looked at the top-300 rushers in all classes in the state, and as mentioned–even with many talented backs leaving–there’s plenty of talent coming back to make things exciting for fans all over the county. The following players are now (statistically-speaking) the “new” top ten rushers in Pinellas as we speed towards Spring.

Northeast’s Shaquon Johnson will be returning for his senior season after leading Pinellas in rushing for the Vikings. Johnson rushed for 1,250 yards for Northeast and eight touchdowns. Clearwater’s Adarius Lemons checks-in behind him following a season in which he ran for 1,054 yards and eleven touchdowns for the Tornadoes.

[[East Lake's Xavier Jackson versus Plant City]]
[[East Lake’s Xavier Jackson versus Plant City]]
The number-three spot is occupied by Pinellas Park’s Dale Foster, who rushed for 1,046 yards and thirteen touchdowns for the Patriots in 2015. The first of three Marauders on this list is Jervon Newton, the junior rushed for 952 yards and twelve touchdowns during CCC’s record-setting season. Rounding out the top five is East Lake’s Xavier Jackson, who rushed for 702 yards and four touchdowns for the Eagles last season.

Calvary Christian’s Richie Mize–who plays QB for the Warriors–comes in at number six after rushing for 684 yards and eight touchdowns in addition to his contribution with his arm. The second member from CCC on this list comes in at number seven, and that’s CJ Cotman–he rushed for 665 yards and matched his teammate Jervon Newton’s total of twelve touchdowns.

Admiral Farragut’s O’shon Allen checks in at number eight on the returning RB’s list in terms of yardage after his 633 yards and three touchdowns contribution for the Blue Jackets. Jamaine Derogene of Palm Harbor University comes next at number nine–Derogene rushed for 628 yards and six touchdowns for the resurgent ‘Canes last season. Rounding out the top ten, is the third member of CCC’s rushing corps–Rashaad Stewart, who rushed for 621 yards and eight touchdowns. It should be noted that all of the top ten are members of the Class of 2017.

The “fun” begins soon and the debates will surely rage all spring–and–summer–and fall–in terms of who the best player in that group will be. Ranking them beyond their raw numbers will be as hard as it gets once they all start performing at the levels we’ve seen them perform at already. Now THAT’S some “fun” we are ready to experience as we expect all ten of these players to make our jobs insanely difficult assigning them a specific order whenever that time comes.


Potentially impactful graduations include:

Darius Miller/Jacquel Waller – St. Petersburg
Travis Wateska/Chad Brittain – Osceola
Zeke McGuaghy/Theo Anderson – Indian Rocks Christian
DJ Johnson – Gibbs
Markeas Jerrido – Countryside
John Clark – Largo
Josh Snead – Northside Christian
Chris Garza-McLean – Seminole