To kill time, I spent the last week or so coming up with a Top 25 Offseason list. Please keep in mind, this list is subjective. These are projections, based on what I saw with my own eyes, talking to people in the football community, and keeping in contact with college recruiters. It’s just a list, so don’t freak out. Feel free to discuss, though.
1. Thaddius Smith, ATH, Cardinal O’Hara: A multi-dimensional standout in the mold of
former O’Hara teammate Damiere Shaw (Temple), Smith will have a target on his back next season. He’s coming off a so-so junior season, but he is being recruited heavily, and you can expect him to be one of the premier two-way threats in the area next fall. Quick, explosive and elusive, Smith possess great hands and on-field awareness. He has offers from Boston College, Temple and Rutgers.
2. Jerry Lanier, RB, Academy Park: He was hands-down the best, pure running back in the county in 2012. Lanier hits the hole and is strong from the waist downl. It’s hard to believe Lanier had to earn his starting spot on varsity last summer and learn the RB position on the go. His ability to accelerate and find that “second
gear”is what separates Lanier from others. He is patient in terms of waiting for his lanes to open and has a real sense for the position. In 2012, Lanier led the county in rushing with 1,566 yards (6.3 ypc) and 16 touchdowns. He can top those numbers next season.
3. Evan Butts, DL, Episcopal Academy: Size, speed, athleticism … a total package. Looks like a D-1 player. Butts could be the top returning TE in the county, too. Butts is a defensive terror and often overlooked because Episcopal was so stacked last fall. He’s an All-Delco for a reason. I think he could be one of the most dominating defensive players in Southeastern Pa. next fall.
4. Kevin Leyden, HB, Haverford High: Leyden had a monstrous junior season. A touchdown threat every time he touched the ball, Leyden has a rare combination of size and quickness and the “it” factor that makes a great high school player. He has the potential to rush for 1,800 and 20 next season. I’ve been told that Leyden in the most dangerous player in the Central League. I agree. Leyden is a three-sport standout in football, hockey and lacrosse. Simply put, he’s good at everything he does.
5. Nick Apostolu, OL, Springfield: Apostolu is a mountainous O-lineman with good feet and
hands to go with tremendous size and strength. With more refinements, I see him as the top returning player at his position. He was listed at 6-5, 290 as a junior. That says enough.
6. Sonny Armstrong, LB/FB, Interboro: I love him as a linebacker, but Armstrong has untapped potential out of the backfield. He’s a bull. A typical tough, blue-collared Interboro grinder, Armstrong is the heart and soul of that team. Not the quickest nor the most athletic, but he’s a special football talent and is as strong as an ox. He’ll play football at the next level, for sure. I don’t think we’ve seen Armstrong reach his max potential at the H.S. level.
7. Dashawn Darden, QB, Cardinal O’Hara: A human-highlight reel. Darden makes the most of his size (5-10, allegedly) and is not a prototype QB, even for the H.S. level. He has two full years of starting under his belt. I think he’s the best returning QB when you factor in the whole package. A lot to like about Darden’s game. I would like to see him develop more into a pocket passer, but thrives when throwing on the run.
8. Juwan Chandler, ATH, Sun Valley: He earned second team All-Delco honors as a sophomore and All-Ches-Mont League honors, but I get the sense not many football fans know a lot about Chandler. That’ll change next season. As a sophomore he had a phenomenal season for the vastly improved Vanguards. With Chandler back in the fold, Sun Valley is on the rise, and could win seven games next season.
9. Mark Everton, WR, Interboro: The sophomore led Delco in receiving with 763 yards on 40 catches (which ranked second). If the Bucs have someone who can get him the ball, expect another huge 2013 for Everton, who showed there is no catch he couldn’t make. He also has that “clutch” factor. The kid was tall for his age, which is scary. He should fill out even more.
10. Cyrus Barlee, RB/DB, Upper Darby: Some might think No. 10 is a little too high on the list, but the kid showed he can play for a UD team that was maddeningly inconsistent and flat-out awful at times in 2012. Injuries kept him away from the offensive side of the ball late in the year, but Barlee was dangerous when he had a chance to run. He also thrived as a shutdown cornerback who was rarely contested as the season progressed. UD has a knack for developing very good athletes who excel at those skill positions. Barlee is another example.
11. Lamont Veal, RB, Cardinal O’Hara
12.Chris Galloway, WR/DB, Radnor
13. Matt Gould, OL/DL, Interboro
14. Jeff Devaughn, WR/DB/KR/PR, Academy Park
15. Nolan Cummings, LB, Cardinal O’Hara
16. Kev Campell, OL/DL, Cardinal O’Hara
17. Adam Krauter, LB,Springfield
18.John Minicozzi,OL, Episcopal Academy
19. Jai Thornton, DB/RB/WR, Haverford High
20. Lou Harrison, LB, Ridley
21. Terrell Smith, DB, Episcopal Academy
22.Collin Wright ,QB, Ridley
23. Jake Irving, RB, Garnet Valley
24. Chris Rossiter, WR/DB, Upper Darby
25.Philip Poquie, RB, Haverford School