Who is the Greatest High School Player You Have Ever Coached?

Who is the greatest high school player you have ever coached? Pretty easy question to answer (on the surface at least) until you realize the word “great” or “greatness” is open to such a wide range of interpretation. Perhaps greatness on the gridiron should be declared an absolute a form of art. Evaluations and assessments from coaches and staffs manifest themselves from the same template that critics in music, writing, and the like apply to their forms of art. Everyone’s opinion about a players’ work on and off the field or painters’ painting, or sculptors sculpture is subjected to such a variety of reasons for something being labeled as great or not. Consensus (although rare) does in-fact happen, but this is about the beauty being in the eye of the beholder. A few coaches that responded mentioned some household names for those around these parts, but in general most of these adult leaders went with young men who simply wanted to become men. Period. Talent helps, but not an all-out prerequisite. In the cases of Ronald Darby (about to be a 1st or early 2nd Rd) and Orson Charles (currently in the league) they may have “made it”, but ask coaches and fans if they were consistently great by simply showing up to play. Regardless of stars, one thing remains clear. Check your ego at the door and be prepared to understand what it means to be a man about your business if you want this label from these guys. – Doug Pugh

Chris Davidson – Tenoroc
“Greatest high school player I have ever coached was Ron Darby, Potomac High School. I coached him his sophomore year, then I left for North Carolina.  The best story I have is I benched him as our starting RB for homecoming against Central HS.  I told him if he was going to play it was only on special teams.  That day was a torrential downpour, probably 6 inches of mud, and Ron returned the opening kickoff for a TD. He then went on and returned two punts for TD’s the last one you had to see to believe ( Three touches three TD’s, we won 18-2. Ron ran for the Olympic Developmental team in Japan that same year, he was special.  Ron went on to shine at Florida State.”

George Palmer – Osceola
“Best player was Oscar Davenport 1993, played QB at North Carolina and Jason Teague 2003 who played RB at Michigan State.”

Adam Hill – Zephyrhills Christian
“The greatest high school athlete I have ever coached was a player named Marcus Martin. He was a senior at Huntington High school in West Virginia. He was the hardest hitter on the defense of side of the ball and the most explosive on the offense of side of the ball. He was by far the best player in the state and was a game changer in every facet.”

Ken Crawford – Pinellas Park
“Jeremi Powell. One of the hardest, meanest, most relentless team players I’ve seen. Didn’t care what position; just wanted to be on the field making plays. Played the game so angry! Super fast, super tough (even though) a little undersized. Played DE, OLB, MLB, RB, WR and made plays everywhere.”

Christian Alexander, Lakeland Christian
Christian Alexander, Lakeland Christian

Wayne Peace – Lakeland Christian
“Hands down Christian Alexander.  He embodies the term Student Athlete.  Great character, student and phenomenal production on the field.  He had a heavy burden and expectation to carry a very new program to new heights and he responded with with class and never backed down from any challenge!”

Cam Jones – (formerly of) Chamberlain
“Athletically – Xavier Johnson, currently a red shirt freshman at South Alabama. Pure game changer. Anytime he touched the ball he had a chance to score. Versatility: Anthony Davis (now at Toledo.) Probably the only player that I could say could play every position on each side of the ball and impact the game significantly.” – Cameron Jones, Formally Chamberlain

Greg Meyer – Plant City
“I’ve been around some great ones who could all have a case made for them but there is one that I am just personally fond of for my own reasons. In 2008 at Plant OL/DL Austin Clark embodied everything you would want in a 2 way grinder. He never gave in to what people told him he couldn’t do and trusted that with relentless effort and belief in his abilities that excellence would be inevitable. His achievements in high school and then in college show that he was right. The kid had a motor like very few do… I’ve coached better athletes but if we are talking greatest HIGH SCHOOL player, Clark gets my nod.”

Reggie Crume – Palm Harbor University
“Ronnell Perkins at University City HS (out of St. Louis.)  He is a Missouri Commit (Class of 2015). Perk was a kid who as a freshman you could not have paid me to believe he would be an SEC guy. He also did not take his academics seriously.  Then all of a sudden, at some point during Perk’s sophomore year, things just clicked for him. He started taking academics more serious. He ran track as a freshman which really improved his speed.  And he was blessed to go from about 5’9 to 6’1 by his junior season.  It was just a site to see him develop as a young man in a troubled environment.  By his junior year, he was the best player on the field no matter where we went. But it was hard work with a little bit of luck (growing) that has provided him the opportunity to be going to University of Missouri.”

Jason Stokes – Gaither
“Orson Charles (Football)
Dentariuous Locke (Track)
Jaquain Williams (Football)”

Frank LaRosa – East Bay
“This question can be compared to asking a parent, who is your favorite child?? Hahaha. Chaz Burrows, East Bay, 2005-2008. Chaz was 5’7, 175lbs and pound-for-pound, one of the toughest kids I have ever coached. He is East Bay’s career rushing leader and was our top scholar athlete his senior season. Chaz produced on the field, in the classroom and in the weight room. He was a leader, unselfish and extremely coachable.”

Matt Kitchie – Leto
“Luycchi Jansen, Leto. Had a great desire to play, gave all he had until his body was done. Played anywhere and was coachable!!!”

Dale Caparaso – Spoto
“This is a toss up for me. I had the opportunity to coach Johnny Peyton (Pasco) who was a 6’5 WR who went to University of South Florida after turning away many of the top 10 schools in the country.  He had a great Freshman season for them until he ran into some issues that ended his college playing days.  Also from Pasco was Doninique Brown.  He was a 6’6 WR for me and passed on Miami, Florida State and Florida to play professional baseball.  He currently is the starting LF for the Philadelphia Phillies. Darrell Davis was another Pasco WR I had who was 6’5 and played 4 years at NC State. Darrell was the WR there when Russell Wilson was the QB.  Finally, and probably the best was a young man who was my QB at Bellingham High School in Massachusetts, Ricky Santos.  Ricky was with the Kansas City Chiefs until being released and then played QB in Canada for 5 years.  He is now an assistant coach for the University of New Hampshire.  One side note.  The best of the best could be Geronimo Allison. Geronimo opted to stay at the University of Illinois for his senior season. The coaches there tell me he is a potential first round draft pick if he has a good senior season and stays injury free. He could be the best.”