Former Manatee County high school football stars have continued their ascent to the next levels, whether it’s in college or the pros. But the area also possesses talented athletes in other sports that are competing in college and beyond.
We call these athletes Hometown Heroes.
Lakewood Ranch High alum Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a cornerback with the New York Giants, tallied four tackles and defended two passes in New York’s 20-19 victory over Dallas on Sunday to kick off the NFL season with a win.
Meanwhile, Braden River High’s most successful season last year produced four Division I signings last February for National Signing Day.
Each of those signings, though, are not likely to play this fall. Quarterback Jacob Huesman and Ryan Neuzil, who moved from tight end to center for college, are redshirting at Appalachian State. Offensive lineman Alex Salguero (Marshall) and linebacker/defensive back JoJo Louis (Florida International) are also redshirting.
Huesman is the third string quarterback at Appalachian State, and should redshirt barring any injuries or other reasons that would vault him up the depth chart.
Here’s how some other Friday Night gridiron stars from the area are faring:
▪ Kelvin McKnight — A sophomore at Samford, the former Manatee High standout wide receiver is averaging 15.4 yards per catch this year. McKnight has 108 receiving yards on seven catches with a touchdown through two games, both victories, for the Bulldogs.
▪ Josh Hicks — The Palmetto High alum ran for 44 yards on seven carries in Rutgers’ 52-14 victory over Howard on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights trailed 14-0, before blasting Howard. Hicks churned out a 14-yard run for his best of the game, and the junior is averaging 5.4 yards per carry in two games this season.
▪ Kavious Price — An All-Area first team selection last year, the Manatee High alum has a few carries, a couple catches and is the top kick returner for Kent State University as a freshman this year. Price has three carries for 32 yards and is averaging 23.4 yards per kick return for the Golden Flashes.
▪ Damarcus Christmas — A redshirt sophomore with Florida State, Christmas is starting for the Seminoles on their defensive line. On Saturday, the Manatee High alum recovered a fumble in a 52-8 victory over Charleston Southern.
▪ Jacob Sannon — The former Southeast High star caught three passes for 14 yards for Idaho in a 59-14 loss at Washington on Saturday.
▪ Deondre Francois — After spending his senior high school season at IMG Academy learning Florida State’s offense under former Ascenders head coach Chris Weinke, who won a Heisman Trophy as a quarterback for the Seminoles, Francois is clicking as a redshirt freshman. His coming out party was the comeback victory over Ole Miss in Week 1, and he lit up Charleston Southern this past Saturday with 262 passing yards and three touchdowns in completing 25 of 32 passes.
▪ Ricky Aguayo — A kicker with IMG last year, Aguayo has followed his older brother’s footsteps as the starting kicker for Florida State. Aguayo nailed all seven extra-point attempts and a 46-yard field goal in Saturday’s victory over Charleston Southern. Aguayo was named specialist of the week for the ACC following the Week 1 victory over Ole Miss when he tallied 22 points with six field goals and four extra points.