The college football season is winding down, with conference championships, bowl games and playoff tilts on the horizon.
But while one Hometown Hero played his final game of the 2016 season, others are still marching forward in postseason football.
Manatee High alum Kelvin McKnight saw his sophomore season end with Samford’s 38-24 loss in the opening round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs to Youngstown State.
But McKnight didn’t go quietly.
He erupted with 11 catches for 144 yards and three touchdowns. After accounting for all of the Bulldogs’ touchdowns in the loss, McKnight finished his season with nine scores in 2016 to pair with 70 receptions for 896 yards. He was Samford’s second-leading receiver and ranked second in touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the playoff road continues in Division II for the quartet of Manatee High alums at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich.
Jajuan Pollock, Willie Smith, Marquis Dawsey and Marquel Hines advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinal against Grand Rapids following a 38-17 victory at home against Colorado Mines.
Hines had three catches for 59 yards, while Pollock added two receptions for 12 yards for Ferris State’s offense. On the defensive side, Smith made five tackles and Dawsey added a quarterback hurry to go with his one tackle.
Deondre Francois — The Florida State University quarterback earned Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year honors in an announcement on Tuesday. The IMG Academy alum tallied 3,128 passing yards in his redshirt freshman campaign with 18 touchdowns against six interceptions in 373 attempts. Francois garnered 25 of 48 votes to earn the league’s top overall rookie, and was also named the ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Damarcus Christmas — A Manatee High alum, Christmas had a tackle and pass breakup in the FSU’s 31-13 victory over the University of Florida in Tallahassee.
Daymon Murray — After starting the season as a defensive back with Snow College, the former Lakewood Ranch High standout logged two 100-yard rushing games in the last three weeks of his 2016 season. Murray, who played his final high school season for Utah’s East High, ran for 241 yards on 29 carries with three touchdowns to wrap up his freshman season with the Badgers.
Brian Waiters — The Palmetto High alum played in 10 games for Snow College. Waiters had a couple rushing touchdowns and returned both kicks and punts for the Utah junior college.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie — DRC, a Lakewood Ranch High alum, tallied two tackles and a pass defended in New York’s 27-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Jonathan Isaac — The IMG Academy alum might be flying under the radar when it comes to college basketball’s top freshman. The 6-foot-10 forward is coming off his second double-double of Florida State’s season following the Seminoles’ 75-67 victory over Minnesota in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Monday. For the season, Isaac is averaging 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. The Noles next play George Washington on Sunday.
Joy Norman — A Bayshore High alum, Norman scored a season-high 11 points for Paul Quinn (Texas), an NAIA school, to begin her sophomore season in college basketball at the beginning of November. Norman added nine points in Quinn’s last game, which took place Nov. 12.
Nora Bernard — Another Bayshore High alum with Paul Quinn, Bernard has played in four games this season. She’s averaging 3.25 points per game, while knocking down 75 percent of her free throws.