It's a simple word that separates the great athletes from the good ones.
It's also what separates the South's best from the rest and dominates the 81st Orlando Sentinel All-Southern High School Football Team.
Cedric Benson of Midland, Texas; Roscoe Crosby of tiny Union, S.C.; and quarterback Adrian McPherson of Bradenton Southeast, who tied the Florida single-season touchdown passing mark, lead the top 13 players on the team. The talented baker's dozen includes seven running backs, three quarterbacks, two receivers and a defensive back.
Benson rushed for 249 yards in the Texas state title game in leading Midland Lee to a second consecutive state championship. He rushed for more than 100 yards in 13 of Lee's 14 games and has committed orally to Texas.
Crosby caught 77 passes for 1,408 yards and 23 touchdowns to lead his team to a second consecutive Class 3A state championship in South Carolina.
McPherson threw 42 touchdown passes to match the number thrown by Eric Hinson of Havana Northside in 1991. McPherson shares Florida's top honor with running back Frank Gore of Coral Gables, who broke the single-season rushing record in tradition-rich Miami-Dade County.
The 133-man honor squad is selected by state representatives and the Orlando Sentinel staff.
McPherson is joined by two other quarterbacks, Robert Johnson of Americus, Ga., and Damarius Bilbo of Moss Point, Miss. Johnson threw for 3,263 yards this season in leading Americus to its first state title and unbeaten season (15-0) in 25 years. Bilbo passed for 3,038 yards and 32 touchdowns and also kicked 10 field goals for Moss Point, which won the state title.
The most crowded position was running back, where Benson and Gore are joined by Alabama's Carnell Williams, Arkansas' De'Arrius Howard, Tennessee's Gerald Riggs, Virginia's DeAngelo Hall and Louisiana's Byron Robertson.
Williams, from Attala Etowah, ran for 1,739 yards and 23 touchdowns in nine games. Howard, a bruising 210-pounder from West Memphis, broke the state's Class 5A single-season rushing mark with 2,746 yards and 29 touchdowns. Riggs, chosen Mr. Football in Tennessee as a junior at Chattanooga Red Bank this season, is the son of the former NFL running back of the same name. Hall, projected as a big-time defensive back for Virginia Tech, accounted for 1,316 rushing yards, 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions for Chesapeake (Va.) Deep Creek. Robertson, Louisiana's Mr. Football for St. Thomas Aquinas in Hammond, produced career totals of 5,989 yards and a state-record 114 touchdowns.
And as good as Crosby's numbers are for Union, check out Montrell Jones at Kentucky state champion Louisville Male. Jones, his state's Mr. Football, finished with career records of 266 catches and 59 touchdowns, plus 4,345 receiving yards. His totals this year were 69 catches for 919 yards and a dozen touchdowns.
The other member is defensive back Robert Boulware, from Charlotte (N.C.) Vance. He is one of the South's fastest defenders and the state high hurdling champion. He has committed to play for Tennessee.
Illustration: PHOTO: Quarterback keeper. Adrian McPherson of Bradenton Southeast shares Florida's season touchdown passing mark with 42 and this year's Sunshine State football honor on our team.
TIFFANY TOMPKINS/BRADENTON HERALD
PHOTO: A reception machine. Roscoe Crosby's 1,408 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns help his team to the South Carolina state 3A championship.
ROGER RICE/(SPARTANBURG , S.C.) HERALD-JOURNAL
RB Carnell Williams
Attala Etowah High 5-11, 192 lbs., senior
Possible colleges: Tenn., Ala., FSU, LSU, Auburn
RB De'Arrius Howard West Memphis High 5-11, 219 lbs., senior Possible colleges: Ark., Tenn., Miami, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Ala.
2000 All-Southern football team: IT'S SKILL THAT LEADS BILL ON HIGH-OCTANE SQUAD
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