tampabay.com

The Bay area's best football-playing brothers

By Joey Knight, Times Staff Writer
Published November 13, 2007



Pose even the most seemingly benign athletic subject to a handful of desk-ridden sports reporters, and the result is like pouring a vial of paint into a fan. Opinions fly. Debates ensue. Some of them even splatter. Such was the case on a recent afternoon when someone began throwing out names of famous football-playing brothers in local high school lore. In no time, names were being volleyed back and forth over the cubicle wall, and a story idea was spawned. So we nurtured that idea. We harnessed those opinions, did a little research, set some guidelines and came up with what you see here: the top football-playing brothers in the bay area over the past 20 years. Call it a little sibling revelry, if you will.

Now, the parameters. At least one of the brothers must have completed his prep career, allowing us to assess at least one full body of work per family. This disqualifies Armwood stars Eric and Petey Smith, who otherwise surely would have made the cut.

Additionally, each brother must have played at a bay area high school. And for the sake of what we'll call biological integrity, step-brothers aren't included, only those with at least one common parent.

Rankings were based solely on what the families accomplished during their prep careers. Naturally, extra weight was given to any siblings instrumental in leading their teams to a championship or long playoff run.

Players are listed with the high school they attended and their year of graduation.

1. The Hambricks

Darren, Pasco (1993), Troy, Pasco (1995)

Individually, they posted staggering numbers and excelled all over the field. Together, they started for the lone state championship team in the history of Pasco County. ...One of the most versatile players in county history, Darren earned every conceivable postseason honor as a senior in 1992, when Pasco topped Jesuit for the Class 3A title. ...Two seasons later, Troy, who started at linebacker alongside his brother on that championship team, ran for 1,432 yards and amassed a state-high 222 points en route to first-team all-state honors.

Epilogue: Since his five-year NFL career ended in 2002, Darren has been involved in a series of legal troubles; a brief comeback try ended last summer when he was cut from the Tampa Bay Storm's practice squad. ...Troy finished his college career at Division II Savannah State after being dismissed from South Carolina. He spent five seasons in the NFL, the last in 2004.

2. The Caldwells

Reche, Jefferson (1998), Andre, Jefferson (2003)

Several who coached against Reche insist he was a better prep quarterback than Tampa Catholic contemporary Kenny Kelly, who had better weapons around him and eventually started at Miami. The state's Class 5A Player of the Year as a junior, Reche threw for 2,626 yards (and ran for 966 more), leading the Dragons to the state semifinals. ...Andre, widely known as "Bubba," may have been even better behind center. As a senior, he shined as a prolific epitome of balance (1,282 passing, 1,289 rushing yards) while leading Jefferson to the 4A state title game.

Epilogue: Reche, converted to receiver at Florida, and played four seasons for Steve Spurrier. He's currently with the Redskins, his third NFL team. ...Bubba, a fifth-year senior wideout at UF, has 164 career catches - nine shy of Carlos Alvarez's school record.

3. The Godseys

Greg, Jesuit (1990), George, Jesuit (1997), Gary, Jesuit (1999)

A four-year starter at guard, Greg won Hillsborough County's Golden Helmet Award after his senior year. ...George, a three-year starting quarterback, led Jesuit to a pair of district titles and threw for 3,747 career yards. More of an efficient caretaker than a gunslinger, he never lost to Tampa Catholic and led an upset of the Crusaders - who featured Miami signee Kenny Kelly and UF-bound Darrell Jackson - in his last regular-season game. ...Gary, the most physically gifted of the bunch, played a variety of positions at Jesuit before settling at quarterback. As a senior, he threw for 921 yards and 12 TDs, capturing the Guy Toph Award as Hillsborough County's top player.

Epilogue: Greg played at Air Force before a torn knee ligament and several subsequent surgeries ended his career. He's now an attorney in Atlanta. ...George became the starting quarterback at Georgia Tech for George O'Leary, and currently is quarterbacks coach on O'Leary's staff at Central Florida. ...Gary, who played at Notre Dame, works for a global real estate advisory firm and assists his prep coach, Dominick Ciao, at Berkeley Prep.

4. The Weatherfords

Will, Land O'Lakes (1998), Sam, Land O'Lakes (2001), Drew, Land O'Lakes (2004), Joe, Land O'Lakes (2007), John, Land O'Lakes (2008), Stevie, Land O'Lakes (2011)

Sheer volume alone puts this central Pasco dynasty among the top five; talent across the bloodline puts it among the top four. ...Sam and Will were standout linemen who earned college scholarships. ...Drew, Pasco County's all-time leading passer, was the state's Class 4A player of the year as a senior. ...Joe, a second-team all-state quarterback as a senior, led the Gators to three playoff berths as a starter. ...John, the Gators' top rusher in 2006, tore his ACL in August and has missed his entire senior year. ...Stevie has thrown for nearly 600 yards this season as a freshman for the 9-1, playoff-bound Gators.

Epilogue: Sam and Will played at Fordham and Jacksonville, respectively. Will was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2006. ...Drew has started at FSU the better part of the past three seasons. ...Joe, in his freshman season at UCF, is red-shirting.

5. The Picketts

Rubin, Zephyrhills (1990), Booker, Zephyrhills (1992), Ryan, Zephyrhills (1998)

Rubin, a two-way star with a headhunter's mentality as a linebacker, also led the Bulldogs in rushing in coach Tom Fisher's first season, which culminated with a playoff berth. ...Booker, another two-way workhorse, became only the fourth player in school history to post a 1,000-yard season as a junior, and nearly eclipsed 1,000 in only nine games as a senior. Until Ryan came along, he may have been the most heavily recruited player in school history. ...Ryan, arguably Pasco County's most imposing physical specimen ever, was such a gifted package of girth (300 pounds), agility and quickness, coaches used him at linebacker his senior year, when he had 17 tackles in a playoff game. He ultimately was picked for the prestigious Florida-Georgia All-Star Game.

Epilogue: Rubin signed with Northeast Louisiana, Booker with Miami and Ryan with Ohio State. Ryan, however, was the only one who reached the NFL. A first-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2001, he led all NFL defensive linemen in tackles (115) in '05 before signing the following year with Green Bay, his current team.

6. The Mitchells

Jeff, Countryside (1992)

Clint, Countryside (1999)

More regarded as a defensive lineman in high school, Jeff may have been Countryside's most heavily recruited player ever. With a 425-pound bench press and 4.8-second time in the 40-yard dash, he humiliated most opposing O-linemen, recording 49 solo tackles and five sacks as a senior. ...Clint, a bit rangier than his brother, was a first-team all-state defensive end as a senior and was selected for the prestigious Florida-Georgia all-star game.

Epilogue: Both starred at the University of Florida (Jeff at center, Clint at defensive end). ...Jeff spent 10 seasons in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2001. ...Clint had a cup of coffee in the NFL and is on the Tampa Bay Storm's 2008 roster.

7. The Carters

Tim, Lakewood (1998)

Pat, Lakewood (2003)

A fleet two-way Spartans standout, Tim was the catalyst of Lakewood's resurgence in the late 1990s, but a knee injury wiped out nearly his entire senior year. ...Pat, also a quarterback, threw for 1,888 yards and ran for nearly 250 more in leading Lakewood to a district title in 2002.

Epilogue: Tim, converted to receiver at Auburn, was a second-round pick of the New York Giants in 2002, and spent five seasons with them before being traded to Cleveland in March. ...Pat signed with Georgia Tech out of high school, but left after two seasons. After flirtations with USF and Florida, he landed at Louisville, where he has 20 receptions this season.

8. The Kellys

Keith, Plant City (1989)

Kelvin, Plant City (1993)

Kenny, Tampa Catholic (1997)

Keith averaged 17.1 yards per catch as a Raiders senior in 1988, and was instrumental in a 24-10 upset of defending Class 5A state champ Lakeland as a junior. ...Kelvin was a strong safety/linebacker who earned second-team Times' all-Suncoast honors as a senior. ...Kenny's career was mostly inconspicuous except for the 7,486 passing yards, then a Hillsborough County record. In 1999, The Times selected him as the best high school player in county history.

Epilogue: Keith and Kelvin signed with FAMU and Grambling, respectively, out of high school. ...Kenny, a Devil Rays second-round draft choice and University of Miami football signee in 1997, started at quarterback for the 'Canes in 1999 before moving exclusively to baseball. He has played in 26 major league games, and recently was in the White Sox organization.

9. The Holts

Joe, Clearwater (2000)

Jon, Clearwater (2002)

Jarrod, Clearwater (2006)

The most imposing family in our rankings, not to mention the most musical; all are proficient pianists. ...All weighed more than 300 pounds with Jon, at 6-foot-7, the tallest. Jon and Jarrod were named offensive line MVP at the county all-star game in their respective senior years; Jarrod was ranked the nation's 48th-best offensive tackle by rivals.com. ...Their dad, shockingly enough, was a 300-pound O-lineman at Orlando Oak Ridge and later, Furman.

Epilogue: Joe graduated from Virginia with degrees in theater and psychology. ...Jon completed his playing career at North Carolina State in 2006, starting at right tackle his senior year. Jarrod is a sophomore guard at Duke.

10. The Garcias

Brian, Tampa Catholic (2000)

Glenn, Tampa Catholic (2001)

Stephen, Jefferson (2007)

Brian was a standout defensive end/tight end for the Crusaders, leading them in sacks as a junior. ...Glenn was a highly versatile linebacker who earned first-team all-county honors as a senior. ...Stephen graduated as Hillsborough County's all-time leader in passing yards (8,018), completions (506) and touchdowns (83) while leading the Dragons to three consecutive playoff berths.

Epilogue: Brian and Glenn both played for Ivy League championship teams at Harvard. Brian is an investment banker and public-finance analyst in Dallas; Glenn a research analyst for a consulting group in Philadelphia. ...If he avoids further off-field trouble, Stephen, redshirting at South Carolina, will contend for the Gamecocks' starting quarterback job in '08.