The Orlando Sentinel All-Southern high school football team turns 80 today, but the injection of new talent will keep it forever young. This year's version features Florida's first 11,000-yard club member, the nation's top defender from Texas, five big-time running backs and a Georgia peach who stands out on offense and defense.
The All-Southern team began in 1919 at the Lake City Reporter, and moved to the Sentinel in 1947. It is selected by representatives in a dozen Southeastern states.
Cory Redding, defensive end, Galena Park (Texas) North Shore: He was not only defensive player of the year in Houston, but also on USA Today's All-America team after being credited with 123 solo tackles, 22 for a loss. In his career, he forced 14 fumbles and recovered eight.
``I don't think I've seen a guy who is so complete in all my years,'' said Corky Rogers, a veteran coach at The Bolles School in Jacksonville. He coached a team with nine Division I signees two years ago.
``He does all of it and he's 6-1, 200 pounds. Watching film, people don't realize he is the lead blocker on their toss sweep, and he knocks people down. The guy is just phenomenal,'' Rogers said.
Reggie Brown, receiver/defensive back, Carrollton, Ga.: first bounced on the national scene as a sophomore at the state track meet, long jumping almost 25 feet. This fall he had 62 catches for 1,046 yards and 10 touchdowns, leading his team to the Class 2A state title with a 13-1 record. College coaches think he can be better on defense as a heavy-hitting safety.
Nick Maddox, running back, Kannapolis (N.C.) Brown: The consensus choice as America's top running back prospect, he used speed and fluid movement to break North Carolina's career touchdown mark with 114, including 33 this year to complement 2,536 rushing yards. He also had four punt returns for touchdowns of longer than 50 yards and was a two-time state player of the year.
Cedric Cobbs, running back, Little Rock (Ark.) Fair: He rushed for 2,043 yards and 15 touchdowns to lead his school to a 14-0 record and the Class 5A state title.
Daniel Davis, running back, Stafford (Va.) Brooke Point: He garnered all-Metropolitan Washington honors on defense as a junior and on offense as a senior. He has made an oral commitment to play for North Carolina.
Derek Watson, running back, Palmetto, S.C.: established three South Carolina career records for touchdowns (88), points (536) and yards (6,671), plus single season marks of 2,571 yards, 44 touchdowns and 266 points. He rivals Brown for athleticism, averaging 28 points for the basketball team and this spring he defends his state track titles in the long jump and triple jump.
Dontae Walker, running back, Clinton, Miss.: He rushed for a state-high 1,880 yards and 33 touchdowns, bringing his career total to 5,133 yards and 76 touchdowns, both school marks at Clinton. He has committed to Mississippi State.
Jared Lorenzen, quarterback, Fort Thomas (Ky.) Highlands: He is America's most unusual quarterback at 6-4 and 240 pounds. His totals this year were astounding - 169-of-270 passing for 3,392 yards and 45 touchdowns. He also ran for 904 yards and 15 touchdowns and starts for a good basketball team.
``He's a pure quarterback,'' Coach Dale Mueller told the Louisville Courier Journal. ``He's a pinpoint passer. He can throw short or long. When he gets with college receivers, he'll take off.''
Bradie James, linebacker, West Monroe, La.: He transferred from Wossman to perennial power West Monroe this year and blossomed into a star with game-to-game dominance.
DeMarco McNeil, defensive tackle, Prichard, Ala.: He is a two-year member of Alabama's Super Team. Like James, his consistency makes him tough to handle.
David Paine, defensive tackle, Memphis (Tenn.) Melrose: He is the most coveted recruit in Tennessee and the biggest - 6 feet 7 and 265 pounds - and best talent in talent-rich Memphis.
More than 130 players are honored on this 80th all-star team. They range in size from 5-7 running back Jeremy Britt of Danville, Ky., who is headed toward the Ivy League, to 325-pound (give or take 20 pounds) Vernon Carey of Florida 6A state champion Miami Northwestern.
It includes underclassmen such as junior runner Willie Green of Kissimmee Osceola - runner-up to Boldin in Florida's Mr. Football balloting - and junior passer Brock Berlin of Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian.
And who could forget fullback Brandon Johnson, a solid player from Bayou LaBatre, Ala. ... the home of Forrest Gump?