Posted: 2:37 pm Friday, August 13th, 2010

Top area recruits holding off on commitments until after season 

By Jeff Greer

With scores of elite football programs lining up scholarship offers for Jacoby Brissett, Curt Maggitt and Nick O’Leary, there’s a lot of outside pressure on Dwyer’s Big 3 to make some college decisions — or at least tip their caps in one school’s direction.

Well, don’t hold your breath.

Dwyer coach Jack Daniels said that Brissett (No. 4 on the PBGametime Big Board), Maggitt (No. 3) and O’Leary (No. 1), like many of the other big area prospects, are all going to take their time and use the fall to narrow down their lists of favorite schools. O’Leary said Thursday that Alabama, Florida State and Miami led the chase for his services, but Brissett and Maggitt haven’t hinted at their top options yet.

Like the Big 3, Glades Central’s Kelvin Benjamin (No. 2) and Robert Way (No. 8) both said the process will go down to the wire, with Benjamin even adding that his decision will come on Feb. 2, which is national signing day. Park Vista’s Tre Mason, the area’s top running back and No. 6 on the Big Board, said Wednesday that he wants to be comfortable with his choice, and that may take a while.

With so much happening in the offseason, from spring practices, summer camps and seven-on-seven tournaments to preseason practice and school starting this coming week, this kind of delaying has become the norm. Each of them expects to have big senior seasons, too, meaning there’s a good chance that more offers will come if the players wait.

It’s hard to ignore the endless potential for more attention. It’s there if the players want to bask in it.

“First and foremost, [Dwyer's big-name prospects] want to have a good final season,” Daniels said last week. “They’ve worked harder than anybody for this year … They’ll work on picking colleges after their season is done.” 

Of course, the whole process has had its fair share of speculation. O’Leary, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound tight end with soaring stock in recruiting circles, posted a picture of him wearing a Florida State helmet on his Facebook page. It naturally caused a frenzy of O’Leary-to-FSU rumors.

“I was just having fun with it,” said O’Leary, who has also posted pictures of himself wearing an Alabama cap.

Giorgio Newberry, Fort Pierce Central’s All-American defensive end, stirred Tennessee fans recently when he uploaded to Facebook an image of himself in orange-and-white, posing in the Vols’ locker room.

And just last week, the Twitter chattering classes started buzzing about Mason and his supposed commitment to Penn State. It wasn’t true, but the rumors became so rampant that Mason felt the need to post a flat denial of the rumor on his Facebook page.

“I DID NOT COMMIT TO PENN STATE,” Mason wrote. “Just to clear the rumors.”

Each prospect is handling the pressure differently. Mason’s coach at Park Vista, Brian Dodds, said his running back felt “overwhelmed” by the attention. But Dwyer’s Maggitt, a lightning-fast defensive end, said he wasn’t concerned about the attention.

“I’m not trying to focus on that stuff yet,” Maggitt said last week. “I have too much to focus on [at Dwyer] this season … I don’t want to let the college thing get in the way.”

So, while the process rolls on and recruitniks whip themselves into a speculative mess, the area’s best seniors are content with taking their time, even if it’s turning some faces blue with anticipation.

Staff writer Matt Porter contributed to this report.