Posted: 2:40 pm Sunday, April 26th, 2009
By Jason Lieser
Many teams begin spring practice this week. In addition to launching the 2009 season for coaches and players, spring sessions play an important role in recruiting for the current junior class.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but here are some of the latest recruiting updates from nine area schools.
FORT PIERCE WESTWOOD
Fort Pierce Westwood sent a handful of elite players to college football last year, and the Panthers’ big catch this year is wide receiver Leon Shorter.
Shorter (6-3, 175) runs the 40-yards dash in 4.58 seconds and is among a bumper crop of 2010 receivers in this area.
“I’ve never seen an area this overpopulated with receivers,” Panthers coach Waides Ashmon said.
Louisville is the only team to offer Shorter, who caught 30 balls for 745 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior. He was all-area and honorable mention all-state.
“Absolutely things will pick up,” Ashmon said. “There are all kinds of schools lined up to come in next week.”
Safety Jameson Wright (6-2, 170, 4.6 in the 40-yard dash) has caught the eye of Stanford, Washmon said, but has no offers yet. Another Fort Pierce Westwood prospect who should start picking up offers is defensive tackle Evince Dossous. Dossous (5-11, 280) runs the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds and bench presses 475 pounds.
American Heritage, which was one game from the state championship last year and should be a favorite to win it in 2009, has two major prospects heading into spring. Darius Milines and James Potts, both second team all-area picks as juniors, have multiple offers heading into May.
Milines opened the year as American Heritage’s full-time quarterback last season, but a broken thumb on his throwing hand cost him a few weeks and he spent most of the season at wide receiver and running back. Milines is also an accomplished defensive back and started in the secondary on the Stallions’ 2007 state title team.
“In my opinion, he’s one of the top five prospects in the county,” coach Willie Bueno said. “He’s right there with any of these guys.”
Milines (6-0, 175) has many offers, including Illinois, Rutgers, Minnesota, Indiana and Florida International.
The Stallions did not suffer much at quarterback last year when Milines broke his thumb because sophomore Billy Strode stepped in and developed rapidly. Bueno said he plans to use Strode and Milines in similar roles this year, but Strode could miss the entire spring practice session because he pitches for the Stallions’ baseball team. American Heritage baseball could very well reach the state semifinals and finals at Tradition Field.
Running back James Potts is up to four offers now, and at least one school is considering him as a defensive back. Potts also plays safety for American Heritage, but he is primarily considered a running back. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds, so it’s easy to envision him succeeding on either side of the ball.
“I still don’t know if I want to play defense or offense,” Potts said. “I’d be ok playing either.”
So far, Potts has offers from Vanderbilt, Rutgers, Memphis and Florida International. Vanderbilt has suggested he could play offense or defense, and right now the Commodores are the leading candidate to land him.
“They’re at the top of my list right now, among the schools I have offers from,” Potts said.
Spring will be pivotal for Potts (5-11, 175), who hopes to land offers from Florida State and a few more SEC schools.
“A lot of people are really intrigued by him and I think after spring practices, he’s going to see a lot more (offers),” Bueno said.
Potts said he would like to commit by the end of the summer, before the season begins.
Atlantic’s Mark Leal and Boca Raton’s Eddie Sullivan should be the two premier quarterback recruits in the area this season. Glades Central’s L.J. Thomas, an all-area pick last year, is talented but has yet to generate the recruiting buzz of Leal or Sullivan.
Sullivan, who months ago wondered if he would even get a single scholarship offer, now has a total of six: Southern Mississippi, Tennessee, Kansas State, Iowa State, Florida International and Western Michigan. He does not have a favorite among that group yet.
“I’m just taking it as it comes,” Sullivan said. “I don’t think I’m going to be committing any time soon.”
Sullivan (6-2, 200) runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds. His speed and footwork have led some to label him a dual-threat quarterback, but he believes that tag is misleading.
“People tend to see a dual-threat quarterback as a running quarterback,” he said. “I think a dual-threat quarterback is one who can get himself out of trouble.”
Sullivan is a talented runner, especially now that he has packed on 15 pounds of muscle since the end of his junior season, but one of the main reasons he transferred from Park Vista to Boca Raton was to prove himself as a passer.
He certainly did that in 2008, when he completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 2,003 yards and 26 touchdowns. Sullivan threw just four interceptions and the only area player to throw more passes than his 239 was Inlet Grove’s Terry Bradden.
Another impressive note on Sullivan: he said his throwing range now tops out at more than 70 yards.
According to interim football coach Larry Green, the only other Bobcat with a scholarship offer in hand is free safety Justin Halley (6-2, 180), who recently picked up an offer from Vanderbilt.
One player who is sure to generate some interest, especially with Sullivan throwing his way, is wide receiver Terrell Williams. Williams also plays defensive back. He has not received any offers yet, but Green said, “I think he’s high on a lot of people’s list.” Williams (5-10, 160) caught 33 passes for 570 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior.
Green also said South Carolina has expressed interested in receiver Jeremy Retzsch and TE/DB Anthony Darrisaw.
King’s Academy’s Jamaal Wallace was one of the area’s top linebackers in 2008 and has drawn interest from Eastern Kentucky and Florida Atlantic already. Lions coach Craig Dobson said he expects more schools to vie for Wallace this spring.
Wallace had 89 tackles and eight sacks as a junior, when he was named all-area and all-state.
Other Lions players who might generate some recruiting noise include QB Mike Miller, CB/WR Ian Williams and SS Connor Price.
POPE JOHN PAUL II
Pope John Paul II coach Chris Kokell said linebacker Joe Grosso has picked up offers from Marshall and Harvard. Harvard does not actually offer football scholarships, but the school has informed Grosso it will accept him if he applies and he will have a spot on the football team.
Grosso (6-0, 190) was honorable mention all-area last season.
New Okeechobee coach Jeremy Beckham said offensive lineman Kyle McGee, a second team all-area pick in 2008. McGee (6-0, 290) has no offers yet, but expects him to get some attention from mid-major programs once spring football begins.
“He’ll be a guy that probably gets MAC-level offers,” Beckham said.
Watch out for new quarterback T.J. Allen and wide receiver Walt Fortner, too. Both of them should pick up recruiting momentum this spring and into the summer.
Two-time defending state champion Jupiter Christian has a trio of juniors who should get some looks, but none have hard scholarship offers yet.
The Eagles’ most likely Division I candidate is LB/RB Will Powers, who was named Class 1B Player of the Year in 2008. As a junior, Powers had 120 tackles and five sacks, and rushed for 1,546 yards and 19 touchdowns as a running back.
“He’s been identified as one of the top 25 prospects in the country for Yale, but they don’t give early offers,” Jupiter Christian coach Bill Powers, Will’s father, said. “Same with Princeton.”
Bill Powers said his son made an unofficial visit to Duke and Vanderbilt has scheduled a trip to Jupiter Christian’s campus next month.
“If he can get a scholarship to Duke, Vanderbilt, Northwestern or Stanford, that’s where he’ll go,” Bill Powers said. “If his options are between Toledo and Princeton, I’m going to push him toward Princeton.”
Will Powers (5-9, 180) will be limited by his size, but he could be a nice fit at running back for a team that runs the spread.
Wofford and Georgia Southern both told Bill Powers they will offer his quarterback Marshyl Rothman, but that has not materialized yet.
Rothman (5-9, 160) threw 21 touchdown passes and led all area players in completion percentage in 2008. He was all-area and all-state as a junior.
Like Rothman, defensive back Westin Pedersen (6-2, 175) was an all-area and all-state pick, too. Bill Powers said Pedersen has received plenty of mail and been invited to some camps, but has no offers at this point.
Wide receiver Danny Meyer and linebacker Wesley Wallace should gain some interest eventually, too.
BOCA RATON CHRISTIAN
Former Blazers coach Bill Hood, who will remain with the program to assist primarily with college recruiting, called tight end Charlie Cowley, “probably the best player we’ve ever had.” But will that be enough to get Cowley into major college football?
Hood said Vanderbilt has been in contact with the school regarding Cowley, who was all-area and second team all-state as a junior. Cowley (6-4, 260) led the area with 59 catches last year and grabbed five touchdown passes. He also led the team in tackles at defensive end.
Glades Day will send another offensive lineman to the next level after the transfer of all-state right tackle Tony Kibler from Okeechobee to the Gators.
Kibler (6-6, 315) already has offers from Arkansas, South Florida and Georgia Southern. Glades Day coach Pete Walker said Florida State and Auburn seem very interested, too.
The Gators might not have many more 2010 players landing at major colleges, but keep an eye on their sophomore class, which is very talented.