Gibbs has been a popular place for college recruiters this spring. Coach Rick Kravitz, a longtime college assistant, has hosted several coaches and has plenty of players for them to scout. Topping the list is defensive back Craig Watts, a rising junior who holds several offers, including from Ohio State. Watts will rarely leave the field in the fall. He also will carry the ball and return kicks. "There are a lot of schools in the mix for Craig," Kravitz said. "And there's going to be even more."
The most interesting player this spring has been defensive back/receiver Marquez Walls. Without playing a full varsity game, the rising sophomore already has offers from Louisville and UAB. He played a full season on the junior varsity, and despite scoring eight touchdowns and dominating defensively, Walls was not promoted until the final game of the season.
"We wanted to keep him down there and gain experience," Kravitz said.
Walls surely will be on display tonight in the jamboree against Northeast and Tarpon Springs.
Other players who have caught the eye of scouts, according to Kravitz: offensive linemen Roy Williams and L'Dre Barnes, linebacker Javon Morgan, defensive end Troy Killens and cornerback Dorian Jackson.
On the down side, Gibbs will be without as many as 15 players tonight due to injury and grades. The Gladiators will suit up about 27 players.
"We're only dressing 10 players who had varsity experience from last year,'' Kravitz said.
Kravitz does expect nearly all of the players to return for the fall.
Shucking their roots
For the past 24 seasons, Osceola has run the wing-T offense, which has become as identifiable with the program as the spears on the orange helmets.
The Warriors are not getting away from what they do best. But there is a significant wrinkle: the pistol.
"We went to a clinic and heard a guy talk about using nothing but the wing-T out of the pistol," said coach George Palmer, who is entering his 25th season with the program. "It just seemed to mesh with a lot of the things we were already doing."
The pistol is defined by misdirections and options, similar to the wing-T. The quarterback takes snaps almost exclusively out of the shotgun. But the running backs line up behind — not beside — him.
The offense should run smoothly thanks to the return of quarterback Ryan Allan, a junior-to-be.
"The offense has looked good so far," Allan said. "We're getting a feel for it, and it gives us more balance. We're going to shock some people."
Rising senior Wilan Harvey will be counted on as a main ball carrier as Jamil Morris and Quadarius Patterson, who combined for almost 1,800 yards last season, graduate. An intriguing target could be tight end Darien Hooker, a 6-foot-4 basketball player who played football for the first time last season.
"We're still playing around with the offense," Palmer said. "And we'll see how things go in the spring game."
Change of pace
East Lake's balanced, ball-control offense remains. What has changed is how quickly it's run.
A hurry-up, no-huddle attack has been installed, in part, because of the personnel. Only four starters return from an offense that scored a school-record 603 points last season. Among those who graduated are left tackle Mason Cole (Michigan) and receiver Artavis Scott (Clemson).
The offensive line returns both starting guards, Zach Castle and Julian Santos, though Santos is moving to tackle to replace Cole. Jake Hudson is back at quarterback. So is receiver George Campbell.
"It's just a new wrinkle; something different we can throw out at a defense," said coach Bob Hudson, whose team reached the state semifinals last season. "We'll see how it works in the spring game and go from there."
East Lake hopes to give defenses little time to substitute or alter schemes.
"We're picking up the offense pretty quick," Campbell said. "It's different. The pace is a lot faster. But we've grown a lot, and we keep improving. There's motivation for all of us because we want to keep the momentum going from what we had last year and strive to get that (state title)."
• Pasco rising senior defensive tackle Andrew Ivie orally committed to Florida on Thursday. He will join his brother Joey, a defensive lineman with the Gators who appeared in three games as a freshman last season.
"Looks like the University of Florida's going to become an Ivie league school," their father, Joe Ivie, said.
Ivie (6 feet 3, 273 pounds), a consensus three-star recruit, had offers from 10 Division I-A schools and picked Florida over UCF, USF and Wisconsin, among others. He said Florida was the school to beat from the start.
"I knew in the back of my head Florida was there," Ivie said. "That's where I always wanted to go."
Ivie, also a standout wrestler, had 62 tackles and two sacks last fall. He recently bench pressed 390 pounds and lifted 315 in the clean-and-jerk for a fifth-place finish at the state weightlifting tournament.
• Sunlake at Wiregrass Ranch, 5
• Gibbs and Tarpon Springs at Northeast, 7
• DeSoto County at Boca Ciega, 7
• Lakewood at Ocala Vanguard, 7
• East Lake at Osceola, 7:30
Times staff writer Matt Baker contributed to this report.