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Notebook: Playing out of position common for many top recruits

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Sat. January 11, 2014 | John C. Cotey | Email

Notebook: Playing out of position common for many top recruits

Lakewood’s Ryan Davis threw for 1,787 yards and 16 touchdowns this past fall and led his team to the state semifinals, but he probably won’t play quarterback in college.

Same for Tampa Bay Tech’s Deon Cain, who threw for 1,945 yards.

Same for Sickles Ray Ray McCloud III, second in the state in 2013 with 2,316 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns.

That hasn’t stopped the trio from getting roughly 40 combined offers — Davis and Cain as wide receivers, McCloud as a defensive back — but it does mean they are among many this offseason who will have to balance getting ready for the upcoming high school season at one position and getting ready for college at another.

“When I’m at school with my team, I’m working as a quarterback,’’ said Davis, who reports FSU as one of his offers. “But at (combines), it’s wide receiver. I’d say it’s 50-50 in the offseason.”

It’s nothing new, but recruiting has less to do with high school production and more to do with potential and athletic skill. Heck, Jefferson quarterback Deiondre Porter threw for 3,000 yards and rushed for another 1,300 to lead the entire state in total yards, but next fall he will be playing defense.

Davis, who is deemed too small to play quarterback at 5-10, 154 pounds, has the speed, wiggle and hands to catch passes.

Cain (6-3, 190) has only caught one pass in high school, but when he plays receiver in the offseason he is impressive.

And McCloud (5-9, 166) has eight tackles, one pass defended and no interceptions, but has impressed in the offseason at one-on-one challenges against wide receivers. Most of his 20 offers are for defense, though Florida, UCLA, Clemson, Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt have interest in McCloud as a running back.

Given their druthers, all three players would rather play their current positions at the next level. But they all understand that being versatile is the surest path there.

Dyn-no-mite
Here are five intriguing players to keep an eye on this offseason:

Noah Johnson, Armwood: Can the junior play quarterback at the next level? At 6-0, 175 pounds, he may be too short, but he’s athletic enough to impress at other positions. Will he try?

C.J. Cotman, Clearwater Central Catholic: CCC is not a school that typically hits the combine or 7-on-7 circuit hard, but this freshman has the kind of skill set that sets both abuzz.

T.J. Chase, Plant City: At 6-2, 167 pounds with all the tools, the sophomore should be a big name the next few months with how strong the Raiders show up at offseason events.

Jonathan Crawford,  Largo: A 6-2, 175-pound safety according to some, he’ll be busy with basketball for a while, but his old coaches swore he would grow and develop into a BCS linebacking prospect before he graduated. UCF has offered, but the rest of the state’s schools could soon be aboard. With no head coach currently at Largo, the junior may have to take his recruiting more firmly into his own hands, though for now Rick Rodriguez, who resigned after last season, continues to field calls.

Dwayne Lawson, Hillsborough: This junior has a big arm and outstanding athleticism all wrapped up in a 6-5, 205-pound frame. He’s on a very short list for No. 1 recruit for 2015 as well as the HomeTeam 100. With only two offers, we’re not sure what everyone is waiting on.

Still waiting
A year ago, we did a preliminary top 25 for the class of 2014, and the only players on that list still uncommitted are Jesuit’s Vincent Jackson (No. 3), Tampa Catholic’s T.J. Harrell (5), Wharton’s Chase Litton (6), Countryside’s Mike Johnson (11), Chamberlain’s Anthony Davis (16) and Admiral Farragut’s Napoleon Maxwell (23) and Cortavious Givens (24).

Busy, busy, busy
The high school football offseason won’t even be two months old by Feb. 1, yet a number of locals could already have three combines under their gym shorts.

The Unsigned Preps High School Recruiting Showcase will cap a busy month that has already featured the Under Armour combine and Sunday’s Ignite combine.

Unsigned Preps founder Ricky Sailor said he hopes to make his event — Feb. 1 at the Police Athlete League in Tampa — more of a showcase by focusing less on testing in events like the three-cone shuttle and more on head-to-competition and positional instruction.

Sailor will forward results to colleges, strategically he said to maximize opportunities, and will also be looking for players to add to his two 7-on-7 teams and fill the 90 spots on his popular summer bus tour to college campuses  across the Southeast.

For more information visit unsignedprepsonline.com.

John C. Cotey can be reached at cotey@tampabay.com. Find him on Twitter @JohnnyHomeTeam.

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