Devon Still added another trophy to his ever-growing collection on Thursday night, when he was named the Delaware Athlete of the Year by the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association. Still – the former Howard High football star who will soon turn All-American glory into NFL gold – was given the award at the DSBA’s annual banquet at Dover Downs.
Still was also the Big Ten defensive player of the year this past season and it’s a foregone conclusion that the Penn State star will be drafted in the first round of April’s NFL draft. How high he goes depends on which mock draft you’re reading or, so it seems at times, which way the wind is blowing.
Anyhow, there’s no question that the defensive tackle is one of the premier football players to ever emerge from Delaware and he’ll be one of the very few players with a Delaware connection (was born here, went to high school here or went to college here) to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft. The others: defensive tackle Randy White (Dallas, 1975), defensive end Joe Campbell (New Orleans, 1977), tackle Luke Petitgout (New York Giants, 1999) tackle Jeff Otah (Carolina, 2008) and quarterback Joe Flacco (Baltimore, 2008).
There have been other Delaware players who have made their mark in the NFL and we thought it would be fun to come up with an all-time football team comprised of players with a Delaware connection.
Several of those players carved out nice professional careers and some just had a cup of coffee in the big leagues. It was especially difficult coming up with linebackers and one of them barely got a sip of that coffee – Leon Dombrowski, a star at Salesianum School who later played in one game for the New York Titans of the fledgling American Football League in 1960.
However, a couple of First State-connected NFLers had exceptional careers and they were chosen as captains of the All-Delaware team, one on offense and one on defense.
On offense, it’s quarterback Rich Gannon from the University of Delaware. Even though it took him a long time to get to the top, he made it in style – Gannon was the MVP of the NFL in 2002, when he led the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl. Not bad for a guy that most NFL teams wanted to convert into a defensive back coming out of college.
On defense, it’s tackle Randy White from McKean High and, eventually, the Dallas Cowboys. White is still considered one of the all-time greats and remains the only Delawarean inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
So, here is our starting lineup of the best of Delaware and it wouldn’t be a shock to find out that we forgot somebody who should be on it. Some of these selections played for more than one team and we’ve listed the team with which they’re most often associated. Feel free to disagree with these selections and suggest your own:
WR: Steve Watson (St. Mark’s, Denver Broncos)
WR: John Taylor (Delaware State, San Francisco 49ers)
WR: Tom Hall (Salesianum, Minnesota Vikings)
TE: Lovett Purnell (Seaford High, New England Patriots)
OT: Jeff Otah (William Penn, Carolina Panthers)
OT: Luke Petitgout (Sussex Central High, New York Giants)
OG: Rod Milstead (Delaware State, San Francisco 49ers)
OG: Conway Hayman (Delaware, Houston Oilers)
C: Jamaal Jackson (Delaware State, Philadelphia Eagles)
RB: Tim Wilson (De La Warr High, Houston Oilers)
RB: Mike Meade (Dover High, Green Bay Packers)
QB: Rich Gannon (Delaware, Oakland Raiders)
DE: Joe Campbell (Salesianum, New Orleans Saints)
DE: Dennis Johnson (Delaware, Washington Redskins)
DT: Randy White (McKean High, Dallas Cowboys)
DT: Devon Still (Howard High, NFL team TBA)
LB: Jamie Duncan (Christiana High, Tampa Bay Bucs)
LB: Kevin Reilly (Salesianum, Philadelphia Eagles)
LB: Frank Nicholson (Delaware State, New York Giants)
LB: Leon Dombrowski (Salesianum, New York Titans)
CB: Mike Adams (Delaware, Cleveland Browns)
CB: Ivory Sully (Delaware, Los Angeles Rams)
S: Mike Reed (Salesianum, Carolina Panthers)
S: George Schmitt (Delaware, St. Louis Cardinals)
K: Grant Guthrie (Claymont High, Buffalo Bills)
KR: Gary Hayman (Newark High, Buffalo Bills)
Coverage: Montell Owens (Concord High, Jacksonville Jaguars)
Head coach: Ron Waller (Laurel High, San Diego Chargers)
Contact Kevin Noonan at [email protected]