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From little known to the names to know

12/30/2008

Regardless of the summer camp and combine assessments, there are always players who, by the end of the season, surprise fans, coaches and the media.

Today we will take a look at the players who were not big names heading into this year but ended the season among the ones everyone was talking about. These are our top "breakthrough" seasons for 2008.

Other names to mention: Anthony Wright, Wise; Dino Stevens, North County; Troy Jones, St. Paul's; Arlando Scott, North Point.

5. Devon Smith, Westlake

While Smith's name on this list may seem odd considering the senior was considered a top prospect before his junior season, he had not proven himself on the field until this year.

After winning the Nike Penn State receiver MVP award in 2007, Smith was expected to have a stellar junior year for Eleanor Roosevelt. However, the 5-foot-7, 140-pound Smith transferred to Westlake after playing only one scrimmage for Roosevelt and did not play football his junior year. He excelled on the track team at Westlake and once again performed at the Nike Baltimore Combine and earned accolades at the 2008 Nike Penn State Camp, but it wasn't until he stepped onto the field at Westlake this season that Smith showcased the talent that everyone thought he had.

Smith, who's committed to Penn State, rushed for 1,883 yards and scored 30 touchdowns, including four on special teams -- one in the state final -- on his way to earning a spot on the 2008 Consensus All-State team.

4. Josh Bordner, Century

Century's new quarterback is a familiar face in a new place. Bordner played on the varsity squad last season as a wide receiver and linebacker, but after spending the summer at camps and training, he took over under center.

The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Bordner helped lead Century to a 12-1 record this season, one year after the team finished 4-6 in the MVAL Blue Ridge Division.

Bordner led Carroll County with 2,212 passing yards and recorded 78 tackles from his linebacker position.

"I knew Josh had a good arm and good field vision," Century coach Tony Shermeyer said. "He really developed over the summer."

3. Gary Fortune, Lackey

Fortune hit the jackpot this season. The 6-foot, 160-pound senior was not one of the names mentioned before the season. His teammates in the secondary, Darrell Givens and Malcolm Willis (both Penn State commits), were the guys everyone was talking about.

But Fortune soon went from the other guy in the defensive backfield to the only one of the trio to make the Consensus All-State team. Fortune recorded 80 tackles and made four interceptions (returning two for touchdowns) this season. On offenseas a receiver, the senior averaged 27 yards per catch and caught seven touchdowns.

2. Zach Spain, Sherwood

There were question marks with the Warriors' offense before the season. Sherwood lost Deontay Twyman and Dominique Budd the past two years, and there did not appear to be anyone to carry the torch. Splain replaced those question marks with exclamation points quickly.

Splain threw for more than 1,800 yards and 35 touchdowns, but the most impressive number may be four. That is how many interceptions the senior threw as he helped lead Sherwood to the Class 4A state championship and the school's first undefeated record.

1. Billy Cosh, Arundel

Cosh was another player that had question marks surrounding him before the season began. To be fair, he had done nothing to raise those questions, but when you are replacing Nick Elko, who had just set public school records for most touchdown passes and most offensive yards in a season while leading his team to the state finals, there are bound to be questions.

To say Cosh put the questions to rest would be the understatement of 2008.

The junior set state records for touchdowns (56), passing yards (3,913), completions (292), attempts (448), total offensive yards (4,074), most attempts in a game (64) and most completions in a game (39). He also set a public school record for most passing yards in a game with 471.

Mike Loveday covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com. Mike can be reached at Michael.Loveday@espn.com