NFL stars highlight Northeast’s best athletes

Ranking the top 10 male athletes of Northeast High School in the past 30 years.

Brent Grimes, who was a standout on the Northeast High School basketball and football teams, is now one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. PHOTO: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

The Public League schools in this area have rich traditions. Northeast High School arguably has one of the richest.

For years, Northeast has produced quality teams across the board, and the school has filled colleges with great athletes. As you’ll soon see, the Vikings have also sent a lot of players to the professional ranks.

In recent years, Northeast has dominated the fall season, winning four consecutive Public League soccer championships and making the Public League football finals in each of the past two seasons. Last year, they walked off with the trophy.

The Vikings have also had solid teams just about every year in basketball and baseball, and those teams certainly have had their share of stars.

The players we’re picking are the top 10 athletes in the school from 1987 to 2017. Players are judged by what they accomplished while in high school as well as any achievements they have made since graduation.

A special shoutout to www.tedsilary.com, the high school sports website, for its help with these lists.

These lists are for fun, so if you think of a player who didn’t appear, don’t get mad. Instead, comment on the Northeast Times’ Facebook page and tell us who should be on there. Since the Vikings have such a proud tradition of great athletes, there are good players who didn’t make the cut. That doesn’t mean they’re not great athletes.

Here’s the list!

1. Brent Grimes

During his high school days, this 2001 grad was a promising point guard who had the ability to both get to the basket and get his teammates involved. In fact, he probably could have played college basketball, and some teams were starting to recruit him.

Instead, Grimes stuck with football, another sport he excelled in at Northeast. As a senior, he rushed for more than 700 yards to go along with 12 touchdowns.

The one thing Grimes lacked was size, which is probably why he didn’t go to a Division I school. Instead, he went to Shippensburg, where he had a great career. Still, he didn’t do enough to get drafted by an NFL team, but the Atlanta Falcons signed him as a free agent.

He has made the most out of his opportunity. The Falcons sent him to Hamburg of NFL Europe, and when he returned to the U.S., he really came into his own.

Grimes has played for the Falcons and Miami Dolphins, and he’s currently a starter on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 122 career games, he’s picked up 30 interceptions and he’s missed just one game during the past four years.

He’s made four career Pro Bowls.

2. Charles Way

The 1990 graduate was a force during his days as a Viking. He was a beast of a running back and a linebacker, earning All-Public honors on offense and All-City honors on defense. He also was an All-Public wrestler.

Way played college football at the University of Virginia, where he started at fullback. His primary responsibility was blocking, but he also gained more than 1,000 yards during his career while punching in 20 touchdowns.

Way was selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the New York Giants, and he had a productive career with them. In five seasons, he rushed for 1,356 yards and 10 touchdowns, despite being used primarily as a blocking back. A knee injury cut his career short.

He’s still involved in the NFL, serving as head of its Player Engagement Department.

3. Steve Smith

This 2001 graduate continues to improve. He failed to make the team when he was a sophomore, became a contributor as a junior and a star as a senior, earning All-Public honors and a scholarship to play at La Salle.

The upward trend continued in college. He was twice named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and averaged better than 14 points per game every season. For his career, he averaged 18.1 points and eight rebounds a game.

After college, he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers, and saw time in eight games before he was released. That ended his NBA career, but he is still active, now in his 10th year of playing overseas.

4. Scott Hunter

This 1993 grad was Northeast’s version of Bo Jackson. He was a strong defensive back in football, where he earned All-City and All-Public honors. He probably could have had a long career in that sport, but he was even better in baseball.

Hunter earned All-Public honors and All-City honors at catcher, and was selected in the fifth round of the 1993 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He spent nine years in the minors, playing with the New York Mets, the Montreal Expos, the Cleveland Indians and the Baltimore Orioles. He reached Triple-A before calling it a career.

For his career, he hit 94 home runs and batted .269.

While his playing days are over, Hunter now serves as the director of amateur scouting for the Seattle Mariners.

5. Sean Evans

A 2007 graduate, Evans spent most of his senior year answering a tough question: “Is it going to be football or basketball?”

That’s what happens when you get Division I interest in both sports.

On the football field, Evans was All-Public for his play on the defensive line. He also was a weapon on offense, leading the Vikings in receiving from the tight end position.

He had options in football, but after a strong senior year in basketball, which included another All-Public selection, Evans decided to accept a scholarship to St. John’s University, where he enjoyed a strong sophomore year, averaging more than 10 points per game and seven rebounds.

After finishing his college career, Evans played overseas. Two years ago, he was named MVP of a league in Greece.

6. Deion Barnes

Sometimes, players don’t live up to their recruiting hype. This 2010 graduate was ranked the №6 defensive end in his senior class after registering 85 tackles and 13 sacks. He also starred on offense and special teams, grabbing three touchdown passes at tight end and blocking three punts.

He went on to play at Penn State, where he lived up to expectations. He redshirted his freshman year and then started eight games as a freshman while earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He started the next two seasons, totaling eight sacks and 54 tackles.

Barnes left college after three years, but wasn’t drafted. He signed with the New York Jets and stuck around for a year before getting cut. He then signed with the Kansas City Chiefs last year, but again was cut.

7. Robert Battle

Prior to graduating in 1999, Battle was a great all-around athlete, playing three sports — football, basketball and volleyball. He was very good at all three sports, and received some college interest for football, but he decided to play basketball at the college level.

He enrolled at Drexel, and for the first two seasons, he played sporadically. His junior and senior seasons were a different story.

Battle, a center, became a star for the Dragons. He scored 1,000 career points, and during his senior year, he averaged more than 15 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest.

After tryouts with some NBA teams, Battle decided to try his luck overseas and became a star.

He’s currently playing for a professional team in Argentina, where he was the finals MVP in 2014.

8. Troy Roundtree

The 2003 grad was arguably the best player on a Northeast team that also featured NBA star Kyle Lowry. Led by their big man Roundtree, the Vikings made the Public League championship during his junior year, and during his senior year the team advanced to the quarterfinals.

Roundtree was a workhorse who scored a lot of his points on follows. He ended his Northeast career with more than 1,000 points and is third all time in school history.

After Northeast, Roundtree went to Delaware State, and he started three seasons for the Hornets. He recorded about five points and four boards a game.

His most memorable game occurred in 2005, when he helped the Hornets reach their only appearance in the NCAA Tournament. In their only game, the Hornets, a 16 seed, put a scare into top-seeded Duke before losing, 57–46.

9. Yaroslav Mukha

In 2006, a few months before he graduated, Mukha made history by becoming the first Public League or city wrestler to ever bring home a medal from Hershey at the PIAA individual wrestling tournament. What’s even more amazing is that wrestling wasn’t his best sport.

Mukha, a massive lineman, made All-Public and All-City during his senior year, when he helped the Vikings advance to the Public League championship game. Behind his blocking, the Vikings rushed for more than 2,500 yards.

Mukha continued both his wrestling and football career at Northeastern.

10. Antoine Brockington

If you recognize the surname, it’s likely because the son of this 1993 grad is Izaiah, who this year helped Ryan get to the semifinals of the state 6A playoffs. But before Izaiah was turning heads, dad was a top player in both football as a receiver, and basketball as a guard. He finished as a third-team All-City selection in both sports and was a first-team All Public choice as well.

As a junior, he scored more than 28 points per game in basketball, but missed a lot of time as a senior due to a hand injury.

The setback may have scared some teams away, but he ended up going to Coppin State and while there, he made history.

In 1997, the Eagles became just the second №15 seed to win a tournament game, knocking off №2 seed South Carolina, 55–54. Brockington scored 20 points in the game.

The Eagles proved the game wasn’t a fluke in the second round, giving Texas all it could handle in an 82–81 loss.

For his college career, Brockington averaged 16.5 points and just over three rebounds per game. ••