DL David Fonua (Southeast) — A four-year starter, Fonua was a three-time All-Area pick in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, when he totaled 186 tackles and 14 1/2 sacks. A highly-touted prospect, Fonua signed with USF.
DL Terron Sanders (Southeast) — Despite missing nearly all of his senior season with a knee injury, Sanders, another Florida signee, was a four-year starter and a strong two-way player for the Seminoles. He had three sacks his junior year and went on to win a pair of national championship rings with the Gators.
DL Kedric Johnson (Palmetto) — In 2007 and ‘08, no one in the area frightened quarterbacks as much as Johnson, a defensive end who totaled 41 sacks during his junior and senior seasons. He made the Class 3A all-state first team as a senior, when he finished with 21 1/2 sacks, 40 1/2 tackles, 27 quarterback hurries and four tipped passes en route to signing with Florida.
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DL C.J. Hunnicut (Manatee) — The Hurricanes defensive end had 21 tackles as a junior and was nearly just as dangerous during his senior year, recording 18 sacks, 65 tackles and returning an interception for a touchdown.
LB Deonte Tate (Palmetto) — Tate helped anchor one of the area’s best defenses in 2007, when he finished with 127 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and broke up seven passes to help the Tigers reach the playoffs.
LB Austin Jensen (Manatee) — Jensen made consecutive Class 5A All-State teams in 2005 and ‘06 when he finished with 200 tackles and 15 1/2 sacks in helping the Hurricanes make consecutive trips to the state final four. He signed with FAU.
LB Derek Bishop (Bayshore, Manatee) — A four-year starter, Bishop had his two best seasons with the Bruins in 2004-05, when he complied 218 tackles as a junior and a senior. He split time at fullback during the second half of his senior year and helped Bayshore make the playoffs.
DB Jonathan Dowling (Southeast) — He put together an incredible junior season by nabbing a school-record 14 interceptions — eight in November — and caught two touchdowns when he lined up at receiver during the Seminoles’ district tiebreaker. ESPNU ranked Dowling, who signed with Florida last spring, as the seventh best recruit in the country heading into his senior year, which included four more picks and six pass break-ups.
DB Mike Jenkins (Southeast) — Jenkins made a habit of stifling defenses during his senior year, when he picked off four passes and blocked six point-after and field-goal attempts. A player who could hit as well as he could run, Jenkins went to USF and was a first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2008.
DB Fabian Washington (Bayshore) — Opposing teams typically stayed away from Washington’s side of the field. A shutdown corner who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds, Washington also returned kicks and lined up at receiver. He signed with Nebraska and was the Oakland Raiders’ first pick of the 2005 draft.
DB Rocky Schwartz (Lakewood Ranch) — Schwartz was a multiple threat, splitting time between special teams, quarterback and defensive back. But he parlayed his work as a safety into a scholarship at the University of Houston, where he had a solid career.
K Gary Cismesia (Lakewood Ranch) — Few have had a better boot than Cismesia, who made seven field goals of more than 48 yards during his junior year in 2002. Cismesia wound up at Florida State after initially committing to Georgia Tech.