Another national signing day is in the books. Let’s take one last look at how our local schools and atheltes fared, and sneak a peek at 2013.
Top high school classes
1. Armwood: Quantity and quality. Ten of the Hawks’ 11 signees are D-I dudes, and the class packs a lot of punch with schools like Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, USF, Wake Forest and Vanderbilt.
2. Berkeley Prep: Hard to top No. 1 recruit Nelson Agholor, but considering Schyler Myles is going to Kansas (over Florida, Notre Dame and West Virginia) and Reggie Barnes is off to Air Force, it’s a very nice class.
3. Plant: Maybe the brainiest class, with eight signees (and one preferred walk-on) and a dash of star power with Antonio Crawford (Miami) and Drew Madhu (Stanford).
4. Gibbs: Gary Simon (Oklahoma) was a steal, Albert McCoy (Buffalo) is underrated and we’re including former OT Will Latu (now at College of Canyons JUCO), who also signed with Oklahoma.
5. Lakewood: Some guy in Lakewood’s class switched to Florida at the last minute, can’t recall the name, and Jevaris Little is off to Illinois.
6. Jefferson: In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the Dragons produced lots of talent, starting with Tyriq McCord (Miami). Will Watson is MAC-bound to Bowling Green, and FIU picked up a good wide receiver in Adrian Jenkins.
7. Hillsborough: The Terriers will be a top three next year, we suspect, but 2012 guys like Earl Moore (Miami) and Anthony Brown (Purdue) are something to be proud of.
8. Plant City: Two of their signees (Bennie Coney at Cincinnati and Dazmond Patterson at Ohio) are already in college, and LaMarlin Wiggins (USF) rounds out a very good class that could be better once Sam Green and Jalen Butler land somewhere.
9. Pinellas Park: Jeremi Powell is going to Florida, but Iman Smith’s potential is what puts the Pats in the top 10. He’s headed to Middle Tennessee.
Colleges that cleaned up in the bay area
1. Miami: Swooping in to grab Crawford was a coup, to go with the surprise of McCord, to go with getting Admiral Farragut’s Rayshawn Jenkins to back off his USF commitment. All of which is pretty remarkable considering the swirl of probation around the ’Canes program.
2. Florida: The Gators signed only four of the Times’ Top 25, but those four were the Nos. 2, 4, 5 and 6 recruits. Wow.
3. Oklahoma: Getting Armwood’s Eric Striker was nice, grabbing Simon with a late rush was brilliant, and topping it off with Latu, the top-rated junior college offensive tackle in the country, was icing on the cake.
4. Ohio: The Bobcats were active in Tampa Bay this season, landing guys we had rated in the top 3-5 of their positions at the beginning of the season, like King quarterback Greg Windham and Plant City’s Patterson, as well as King receiver Chris Murray. Ohio nearly pulled out East Lake tight end Stephen Buric and Gulf lineman Jeff Kruse, only losing out because the players made academic decisions and chose schools in the Ivy League.
5. Florida International: Underrated Tampa Bay Tech running back Lamarq Caldwell is already there, and big Jefferson receiver Adrian Jenkins and Boca Ciega safety Denzel Conyers, who would have been a bigger recruit if not for a torn ACL, are on their way along with talented Alonso safety Jordan Davis.
6. Cornell: Yeah. That’s right. Cornell. We know they got really intelligent kids, but landing the starting quarterback and leading tackler from a Class 8A state championship team (Plant’s James Few and Mike Tate) and arguably the best lineman out of Pasco County (Gulf’s Kruse) is really, well, smart.
7. Akron: Getting Armwood running back Wade Edwards, who could have started for anyone, then having Edwards talk the Zips into grabbing teammate and linebacker Keionne Baines? That’s called maximizing your resources.
8. Missouri: SEC-bound Tigers may have restarted a pipeline to Tampa Bay by picking up Indian Rocks Christian TE Sean Culkin late.
9. Kent State: Zephyrhills athlete Jamal Roberts could be a big-time steal, and Plant coaches rave about defensive back Keenan Stalls. Two very good athletes.
10. UMass: The Minutemen lure one of the North Suncoast’s top football talents (Pasco’s Trey Dudley-Giles) away from bigger offers plus took its top basketball player (NCT’s Tyler Bergantino) in the fall signing period. And maybe they end up with Pasco quarterback Jacob Guy.
John C. Cotey: Nothing on signing day, but the discoveries beforehand than Lakewood’s Dante Fowler Jr. would indeed flip and Simon was going to Oklahoma were surprises.
Joey Knight: Probably Crawford’s late flip from Georgia Tech to Miami, considering the NCAA’s impending wrath upon the U. Al Golden’s selling job must’ve been a doozy.
Matt Baker: Berkeley Prep star Nelson Agholor keeping his recruitment so quiet for so long. That’s rare for a five-star talent in the Rivals/Scout/247/ESPN era.
Laura Keeley: Matt Jones’s outfit, highlighted by a Gator Snuggie-turned coat paired with a Gators tie and hat. It was great to see a big-time recruit so excited about the school he had chosen.
Cotey: David Jones, St. Petersburg. What’s not to like about the Green Devil with great size, great academics and great playmaking ability? Richmond got itself a good one, and others will soon wonder how they let him get away without even an offer.
Knight: Byron Pringle, Robinson. Had the Youngstown State signee not missed all of 2010 following his arrest that summer, he likely would have had his choice of BCS offers.
Baker: Schyler Miles, Berkeley Prep. Charlie Weis and Kansas took a three-star linebacker from the state of Florida away from the Gators. Sounds like a steal to me.
Keeley: James Few, Plant. In a couple years, all the other Ivy League schools will be seeing (Big) red and wishing they had offered Few, who has both the size and mind to develop into a great quarterback.
Who will be the best in college?
Cotey: Gary Simon, Gibbs. I just think he projects so well at the next level — he’s a playmaker with great instincts, a terrific combination to go with the great coaching he’ll receive in Norman.
Knight: Academically, Plant QB James Few (Cornell). Athletically, geez, who knows? But I think Oklahoma will shift Eric Striker to safety, where he’ll annihilate people.
Baker: Jefferson’s Tyriq McCord will be a monster at Miami, but don’t forget about Oklahoma-bound Eric Striker.
Keeley: Coldy Waldrop, Armwood. The OL passes the eye test, and he wowed me with his athleticism one day as I watched him field punts at practice during a water break. South Carolina has an anchor for its line.
Best player still out there?
Cotey: I think Tarpon Springs’ Kenny Blanch is a terrific prospect, but since I guess I have to count a junior college “signing,” I’ll go with Branden Leston. The Clearwater wide receiver may have issues I don’t know about, but you’d have to think with his size (6-3, 205) and his production someone would snatch him up.
Knight: Pasco QB Jacob Guy. I’m not sure if he ever plays significant minutes at Florida, but dang, the dude can play somewhere.
Baker: Pasco QB Jacob Guy. Accurate, 6-foot-5 quarterbacks don’t grow on trees. If he walks on at Florida, the Gators get a steal.
Keeley: Me three on Guy, but another steal will be Newsome OL Keith Weeks. He has size (6-5, 268) and has that whole run-block thing down thanks to the Wolves’ wing-T.
Best signing day nugget
Cotey: Lakewood’s Justin Pierre started two games in two years, but got a scholarship to Wayne State (Neb.) College, which in its signing day bio of the Spartan said he was a two-year starter who averaged two sacks a game. Big expectations for Justin.
Knight: Sort of neat to see Berkeley Prep DE/TE Reggie Barnes sign with Air Force. His dad, who didn't pressure him at all, spent nearly three decades in that branch of the military, retiring as a colonel.
Baker: Gulf DT Jeff Kruse had a D-I offer (Eastern Michigan) but followed his brains to sign with Cornell. Props to anyone picking a school for academic reasons.
Keeley: Jefferson WR Jawuan Coffee lost his father in fifth grade, was homeless, didn’t play his freshman year because of his 1.2 GPA, lost his mother his junior year, and signed Wednesday with Division III Becker (Mass.) College. What an incredible young man. I wish him the best.
Cotey: Nelson Agholor will get 40 carries at running back next season, and end up being converted and earning all-Pac 12 honors at the position in 2015.
Knight: Plant wins another state title this fall. (I know this is a recruiting piece, but no one's going to say I didn't call this one first.)
Baker: Armwood lineman Cody Waldrop will be the best player Tampa Bay sends to the SEC this year.
Keeley: In 2015, Kevin McCoy will open a huge hole, Josh Grady will hand off to Tate Rogers, and Vanderbilt will knock off a few of those SEC state schools.
Best sleeper for 2013?
Cotey: A.J. Sattinger, TE, Countryside. He already has an offer from Ohio, but he’ll end up with a bunch more from bigger schools. Depending on what position you classify Hillsborough’s Jordan Sherit at, Sattinger may be Tampa Bay’s top tight end in 2013. (Also, keep an eye on Sickles wide receiver Bilal Silat)
Knight: Adekunle Olusanya, DB, Sickles. You don’t read much about him because coach Brian Turner keeps his kids’ offers under wraps, but this guy’s a beast. For that matter, so is Gryphons WR Bilal Salat.
Baker: He might not get the same attention as teammate Darren Hambrick, but Hernando’s Tyrail Hawkins is fast, athletic and a do-it-all player who can be a good college safety.
Keeley: Will Worth, Newsome.He was the Wolves’ leading passer, (925 yards) rusher (1020) and tackler (74 total). Tough as nails, Worth is just flat-out a football player.
Predicting where our 2013 top 10 will go
1. Ryan Green, RB, St. Petersburg Catholic: Florida State
2. Vernon Hargreaves, DB, Wharton: USF
3. Leon McQuay, DB Armwood: Florida
4. Alvin Bailey, WR, Armwood: South Carolina
5. Rodney Adams, WR, Lakewood: Florida
6. Jordan Sherit, DE, Hillsborough: Vanderbilt
7. Travis Johnson, WR, Jesuit: FSU
8. Janarion Grant, ATH, Pasco: USF
9. Richard Benjamin, ATH, Tampa Bay Tech: Miami
10. Pete DiNovo, QB, East Lake: FSU
Compiled by staff writers John C. Cotey, Matt Baker, Joey Knight and Laura Keeley.