Florida High School Offense: All-Time Team
High school football in Florida is about as big of a deal in Florida as college football, especially when every year an argument can be made that the best football players and teams come from Florida. In this series of articles, I want to look at a few legendary names, past and present, that could help put together a Florida High School All-Time Team. I won’t fill out an entire roster, but I will pick a few players as a base, and maybe you could let us know how you would fill out the rest of the team. Let’s start with the best all-time Florida high school offense.
QB Tim Tebow
High School: Nease
The particulars: Tebow, at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, was the size of an NFL fullback with the leadership qualities of a military general. Tebow was an unorthodox southpaw who could beat you with pin-point accuracy or shoulder-pad-crushing stiff arms.
Extremely agile for his size, Tebow is most known for being one of the winningest quarterbacks of all time. In high school, he threw for almost 10,000 yards, 95 passing touchdowns, and 63 rushing touchdowns. In college, he won the Heisman Trophy in 2007, two National Championships, and multiple Player-of-the-Year awards. He even has a trophy outside of Ben Griffin Stadium at the Swamp where the Gators call home.
RB Emmitt Smith
High School: Escambia
The Particulars: Emmitt Smith was a standout at all three levels: He was a super-recruit out of high school, a college All-American at Florida, and is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. At Florida, he finished his three-year career with 3,928 yards (now second in school history) and 36 rushing TDs (also second) *cough* Tim Tebow *cough*. In 2009, Smith was named to the FHSAA’s All-Century team, a list of the top 33 players in the then-100-year history of high school football in Florida. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
RB Derrick Henry
High School: Yulee
The Particulars: At 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds, Henry ran a 4.52 40-yard dash in high school. He used his ridiculous combination of size and speed to not only run through opponents, but run by them. Many college coaches wanted a kid (well, man) of that size and athleticism to play defensive end, which probably would’ve worked out too.
Henry finished his illustrious high school career with 12,124 yards and 150 touchdowns, the former of which broke the national high school football rushing record that had stood for 59 years prior. Ken Hall finished with 11,232 career yards in 1953 in Sugar Land, Texas. Henry’s 150 scores rank fifth all time. He also secured a Heisman trophy win in 2015. King Henry reigns supreme.. All hail the king.
WR Bob Hayes
High School: Gilbert
The Particulars: Nicknamed “The Bullet,” Bob Hayes’ stats aren’t all that glitzy, but he sure was fast. His speed helped him win the 100-meter dash in the 1964 Olympics, and he eventually became the first man to run the 100 in under 10 seconds — he is credited for helping change the game. He was a running back in high school in the pre-integration days, then signed with Florida A&M to run track and play running back.
He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1964, where he led the league with 12 TD receptions as a rookie, then again in ’66 with 13. He played 11 seasons and five times had double-digit TD totals. He had more than 50 catches just twice and finished his career with 371, but for 7,414 yards (an otherworldly 20 yards per catch) and 71 TDs (a Cowboys record).
“He changed the game because of his speed,” Don Shula said. “He made you change everything on your defense when you played the Cowboys.”
When it was announced he had made the Hall of Fame, the news release from the Hall said Hayes “terrorized defensive backs and demanded deep double coverage rarely seen in the NFL at that time. Often said that bump-and-run defense was developed to slow him down.”
WR Michael Irvin
High School: St. Thomas Aquinas
The Particulars: Known as “The Playmaker,” Irvin first played high school ball at Sunrise Piper before transferring to St. Thomas Aquinas. He signed with Miami in 1984 and became a two-time All-American; he is UM’s career leader with 26 TD receptions, fourth in receptions (143), and third in receiving yards (2,423).
Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007, Irvin finished with 960 receptions; 11,904 receiving yards; and 65 touchdowns. He was a member of the FHSAA’s All-Century Team in 2009.
T Lomas Brown
High School: Miami Springs
The Particulars: Brown was a stud recruit out of high school and started for three seasons at left tackle for Florida, becoming the best offensive lineman in school history in the process. He was an All-American in 1984 as a senior when he won the Jacobs Trophy as the best lineman in the SEC.
He was a big-time athlete — he had a 34-inch vertical jump as a 6-5, 280-pound senior — and a first-round pick in the 1985 draft (sixth overall by Detroit). He started 251 games in his career, 11th-most in NFL history. He was a member of the FHSAA’s All-Century Team in 2009.
G Steve Hutchinson
High School: Coral Springs
The Particulars: Hutchinson was an elite recruit who signed with Michigan as a defensive lineman; after redshirting as a true freshman and moving to guard, he was a four-time First-Team All-Big Ten pick and a two-time All-American.
He was a first-round pick (17th overall) by Seattle in 2001 and became one of the best guards in NFL history during his 12-year career. He was named to the NFL All-Decade team for the 2000s. Hutchinson (who also played for Minnesota and Tennessee) will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer. He was a member of the FHSAA’s All-Century Team in 2009.
C Maurkice Pouncey
High School: Lakeland
The Particulars: Pouncey and his twin, Mike, were big-time recruits and part of a seven-player contingent from Lakeland that signed with Florida in the 2007 recruiting cycle.
He started at guard as a freshman (he was the first true freshman to start a season-opener at guard in UF history), then moved to center for his final two years on campus. Pouncey won the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center in 2009, when he was a consensus All-American.
He left school after his junior season and was a first-round pick in the 2010 draft by Pittsburgh. He has started every game he was healthy (121 of them) since being drafted. Pouncey is a two-time All- Pro and has made the Pro Bowl eight times in nine seasons (he missed in 2013, when he played in just one game because of an injury). He appears to be bound for the Hall of Fame.
Written by: Jacquez McCoy