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Prep Sports Report

Bob Putnam, Rodney Page, Kelly Parsons

Plant City's Markese Hargrove gets best fit at last minute

Markese Hargrove has received a full academic scholarship from USF.

Kelly Parsons | Times

Markese Hargrove has received a full academic scholarship from USF.



Plant City running back Markese Hargrove was getting restless.

The 1,000-yard rusher and Guy Toph Award winner had just a few college offers, all from smaller schools, as the 2015 football season continued to progress. Meanwhile, he was leading Plant City to its best season in school history, rushing for 1,731 yards and 17 touchdowns.

“We were both getting restless,” Hargrove’s mother, Kenyatta Shaw, said.

But at the last minute, the hometown team started calling.

Hargrove, who boasts a 4.8 weighted grade-point average, had done enough in the classroom to earn a full academic scholarship to the University of South Florida. So when then-defensive coordinator Tom Allen began reaching out to Plant City coach Greg Meyer, it was an easy process from there to secure Hargrove a spot as a preferred walk-on.

“They loved him. It was one of those situations where they thought they were stealing him, because with his situation of having a full academic scholarship and already being admitted,” Meyer said. “With a lot of walk-ons, those are variables that tend to trip that up later on in the process.”

For Hargrove, staying close to home was important. His older brother Daz’mond Patterson, a former Plant City running back who played at Ohio, was far enough away that their mother couldn’t attend that many games.

So even though he had to wait for it, Hargrove said he was grateful to finally find the perfect fit.

I was patient with it, I wasn’t stressing as much as others do,” Hargrove said. “I was going to wait until signing day anyway for my best opportunity, then USF came and I just took the chance.”

And while Hargrove committed to a school that recently came into his corner, Plant City WR TJ Chase signed his name on the dotted line for one that has been in his for a while.

Chase committed to Clemson on Jan. 31, 2015, and even after transferring back to Plant City from IMG Academy, where he spent his junior campaign, his mind never wavered.

“That’s one thing we talked about when he first came back, I said, ‘How solid are you on that commitment?’ So I knew how to gauge the recruiting process,” Meyer said. “He made it very clear from the beginning, ‘Coach, I have no interest in entertaining offers from anybody else. This is where he wanted to be.’”

In addition to Chase and Hargrove, 10 other Plant City athletes pledged their commitment to colleges, including football players Jamal Savage (Bethune-Cookman), Eddie Tanner (Ridgewater College), Kenkhari Green (Butte College), Kwest Fluitt (Harding University), Cory Cotnoir (Florida Atlantic University), Kijafi Coney (Warner), James Alexander (New Mexico Military Institute), softball players Alexis Williams (Pasco-Hernando State College) and Rebecca Sorenson and soccer player Kylee Burroughs (USF).

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 3, 2016 8:24pm]


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