Team Tampa, comprised of the Times' top four players of the Class of 2012 (soon to be five when we adjust for Kent Taylor's meteoric rise this offseason) competed this weekend at the Badger Sports 7-on-7 tournament at USF and bowed out in Sunday's semifinals. Some thoughts and observations:
1. Taylor was one of the favorite targets all weekend, especially on short cross passes, though he is quick and athletic enough to lose linebackers on deeper routes. New Land O'Lakes coach Brian Wachtel may have run the wing-T at Mitchell last season, but he's smart enough to know the talent he has in Taylor so don't expect to see the Gators running that offense in 2011.
Many of the recruiting gurus out at the Badger 7-on-7 lauded Taylor, and despite his slim frame he may be the best tight end prospect in the state.
2. Folks still question the level of competition Berkeley Prep's Nelson Agholor goes up against during the regular season, but he showed he is a potential five-star recruit playing against some of the best and fastest defensive backs in the state. We have him rated No. 1 in Tampa Bay for 2012 for good reason. He made an acrobatic catch late in Saturday's contest against the South Florida Blur that drew oohs and aahs, and Agholor may have been Team Tampa's MVP if you're basing it on post-event buzz.
3. Quarterbacks Greg Windham (King) and Louis Pappas (Tarpon Springs) competed in Orlando at the Elite 11 Saturday morning and then drove over and split snaps for Team Tampa later in the day. Windham looked more sure of himself and threw some nice balls, and Pappas may not have as big an arm but he throws the shorter passes well. It will be interesting to see how Pappas, who ranks behind Countryside's Gray Crow and East Lake's Pete DiNovo in Pinellas County, does in future 7-on-7 events with his Sponger teammates, particularly big wideout Runaldo Wright, who has breakout potential.
4. Jefferson's Tyriq McCord, easily one of the most impressive physical specimens out there this weekend, and Lakewood's Dante Fowler made pretty good linebackers. They had trouble against the faster wide receivers, especially on wheel routes, but hey, these are defensive linemen. They were impressive to watch.
Also thought Armwood's Leon McQuay played well roaming around the secondary. His speed and long frame will make throwing in direction an impossibility next season.
5. Unfortunately for them, they were referred to as the other Tampa team, but the Wildcats -- a collection of mostly Freedom and Wharton players -- got some good experience this weekend.
Land O'Lakes linebacker Shadow Williams was the best player on the team. He is reportedly getting some interest from Texas Christian but is probably a smaller Division I-A guy, but he played well. He had two interceptions in one game, and a knockdown in a loss to the favorite and eventual runner-up South Florida Express. The Express were massively bigger than the Wildcats and just threw the ball deep at will, but Williams did a nice job protecting the middle of the field.
6. Jon Economou, who will probably be the starter for Freedom this fall, was the Wildcats' quarterback, and he had mixed success but he is going to get some looks because he looks the part. Big (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), strong, good arm. Needs to be quicker with his throws, as the Express had it easy picking him off a few times, but lots of potential.
7. Speaking of quarterbacks who had great weekends, no one increased their exposure and name recognition than Jesuit's Tommy Eveld, and he wasn't even at the Badger 7-on-7 event.
The Tiger competed at the NIKE Elite 11 with local standouts like Windham, Economou, DiNovo, Crow and Plant City's Bennie Coney and won the Golden Gun Accuracy Challenge. With one of the best wide receiver duos in Hillsborough County to throw to next season in Bryce Walker and Travis Johnson, it's time to add Eveld into any conversation about the area's top quarterbacks.
ESPN recruiting expert Tom Luginbill wrote that Eveld, whose brother Bobby is a quarterback at USF, was "a prospect who got better throughout the day. He has some gunslinger qualities to him and fires the ball with good zip and has quality mechanics. The ball pops out of his hand pretty well. He is lean and lanky and weight room time will enhance his skills.''
8. Luginbill also seemed intrigued by Pasco's Jacob Guy. You don't hear much from the Dade City kids on the 7-on-7 and camp and combine circuit, but you'll probably be hearing more about Guy, who is 6-3 and 190 pounds and very athletic for his size.
Guy "looks really good and has some natural passing skills. But as we watched him throughout the day, we wanted to see more of a sense of urgency in his methods. He carries the ball well, is tall, has good feet and made some impressive throws, but could be quicker in everything he does. He's capable of doing that and has some intriguing traits."
John C. Cotey can be reached at 813-460-0530 or at email@example.com