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20 years of signing

Today, Gulf's Alton Voss, Land O'Lakes' Joe Weatherford and Zephyrhills' Sederrik Cunningham will sign their names and cement their commitments to the colleges they plan to play for in the fall. 

Published February 7, 2007



Pasco's big tight end, Johnny Clower, made his parents proud, signing with Florida State.


Pasco quarterback Lex Smith was signed by Florida in the hopes of replacing Kerwin Bell, but another recruit that year - some guy named Shane Matthews - beat him to it. Smith eventually played defense for the Gators.


How good was Gulf's offensive line that 1988 season? Crazy good. Gulf's Jim Watson, one of the top 20 offensive guards in the country, and teammate Brian Fisher sign with Florida on Feb. 8. Zephyrhills quarterback Orion McCants (Tennessee) made it three to the SEC that year for Pasco County.


Don Meredith went to Land O'Lakes? Oh, different Don Meredith. Anyway, the 6-foot, 245-pound offensive lineman was a Class 4A all-state selection in 1989 and picked North Carolina over Duke and Vanderbilt, so he was smart, too. Pasco wide receiver Brian Crutcher signed with Central Florida.


Our crack staff searched and searched and searched some more, but apparently Pasco County was naughty that year and completely bypassed by Signing Clause.


Zephyrhills' Booker Pickett, who played running back in high school and later converted to a defensive end at Miami, and Pasco quarterback Dee Reed, who went on to throw balls for Maryland, were the county's only Division I-A signees, ending about two of the worst years of high school football ever.


Pasco's state title the previous fall yielded three Division I-A players - Kaivon Madani (Citadel) and Darren Hambrick and Taras Ross, who both signed with Florida. Hambrick eventually ended up at South Carolina.


It was a dry year for the county, but Pasco kicker Brent Lockliear went on to become one of Ball State's top scorers and Ridgewood tight end DeJon Young ended up at Kent. Further north, some guy named Peyton Manning (above) signed with Tennessee. Wonder if he ever worked out.


Pasco running back Page Sessons averaged more than 9 yards a carry, which was enough to impress UCF, which proceeded to turn the former Pirates speedster into a fullback.


Troy Hambrick should have signed in 1995, but academic troubles forced him to wait 12 months. When he was finally eligible, he signed with South Carolina, joining brother Darren, who had been kicked off the team at Florida. Don'cha love family stories with a happy ending? Hudson offensive lineman John Whitehead, or Whitehouse as he was affectionately known, signed with Wake Forest, which loved his 6-foot-8, 283-pound frame.


Pasco's Cleo Stinyard (above) was heralded as the top player in three counties and caught the attention of USF. Teammate Rob Roberts signed with Florida as did River Ridge's T.J. Tucker. But Tucker never went to Florida, instead trying his luck with Major League Baseball. He was selected 47th and played five seasons for the Montreal Expos and Washington Nationals.


They called him "Big Grease." Now they could call him "Super Bowl." Former Zephyrhills star Ryan Pickett (right) headed off to Ohio State and continues to enjoy a career in the NFL. Pickett was selected 29th overall by the St. Louis Rams and has played for the Packers. He played in Super Bowl XXXVI.


Norman Graham and buddy Eric Reed signed scholarships to Bethune-Cookman College.


A lineman and a kicker survived the Y2K bug and in the process became Pasco County's first Division I football signees of the new millennium (or was the new millennium actually in 2001?) Land O'Lakes lineman Mark Sopcik signed with USF, and Zephyrhills kicker Brett Cimorelli went off to FSU.


Pasco receiver Joe Bain (above) wanted to go to Florida - his dream school - but ended up at USF where he made a significant impact and would later woo Johnny Peyton (above) to join the Bulls.


Again, after days of leafing through stacks of dusty old newspapers - some disintegrating in our hands - we came up empty for 2002. If you need John C. Cotey, he's out today getting carpal tunnel surgery, or something.


Land O'Lakes receiver Logan Payne bought a Rolex watch for Drew Weatherford for making him the top receiver in Gators history. Okay, maybe it was a Timex. But Payne went on to a glorious career at Minnesota. And don't overlook Ridgewood's Adamm Oliver and his decision to head to Georgia Tech. The former running back turned tackling machine is a starter for the Yellow Jackets. He strongly recommends Sunlake pick Yellow Jackets as its mascot.


This would have been an unbelievable air show by Pasco County standards. Land O'Lakes star Drew Weatherford (above) signed with Florida State after becoming the county's all-time leading passer with 7,657 yards and 79 touchdowns as a four-year starter. He set records as a redshirt freshman only to suffer in 2006 along with the Seminoles' worst team since 1986. And Pasco stud Johnny Peyton went to USF where he also blazed records as a freshman, then was either forced out or quit - each side disputes the other's claim - after his sophomore season and hasn't played since.


Wesley Chapel's big, bad linemen ruled the pledgings to anchor the lines of a pair of Division I schools. Danny Tolley said, "No thanks," to Florida and South Carolina and ended up at USF. Khalil Madani lined up for Air Force. Tolley is expected to compete for a starting job. Madani has been suffering from leg injuries and has hinted at calling it a career.


Talk about big time. Zephyrhills star Bryan Thomas already has a national championship ring after signing with Florida. Land O'Lakes monster Caz Piurowski joined former Gators teammate Drew Weatherford, signing with Florida State. And former Pasco showboat Darrell Davis etched his place in history as what is believed to be the first Division I football/basketball player to play both at N.C. State. Booyah!


Presenting the quarterback cover boys: Gulf's Alton Voss (right), Land O'Lakes' Joe Weatherford and Zephyrhills' Sederrik Cunningham. They took out all the fun of constantly calling to beg for their oral commitments by giving them well in advance. Oh wait, that's actually a good thing. Thanks, boys. Voss is expected to sign with USF, Weatherford with UCF and Cunningham with Fordham. Congratulations.

Izzy Gould and John C. Cotey, Times staff writers

[Last modified February 7, 2007, 07:11:32]

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