Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Illini, Gophers and Lions, oh my: All locked in on Tampa Bay recruits

Toledo, which has had at least three locals on the roster for the past seven seasons, is not the only non-state school having success landing local prospects from the 2018 class and beyond. Here are five others.


Dirk Shadd | Times

LB Khalan Tolson says coach Lovie Smith helped sway him toward committing to Illinois.

Former Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith is in his second year with the program and is using his state ties to land recruits. Of the 11 players committed for the 2018 class, six are from Florida, including Admiral Farragut linebacker Khalan Tolson. .

Tolson has been getting offers from colleges since he was sophomore. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior made his first visit to Illinois this past weekend, and before he got on the plane back to Tampa he committed to the Illini.

"I liked the people, I liked the coaching staff, I liked everything," Tolson said from Illinois prior to his flight home. I talked to Coach Smith a lot. He's a big reason I committed."

Illinois has had success landing players on the defensive side of the ball with defensive lineman Bobby Roundtree (Largo) and linebackers Tre Watson (Tampa Catholic) and Jake Hansen (East Lake).


Charlie Kaijo | Times

Will Armwood QB Devin Black be the next bay area player to land at Indiana?

The Hoosiers have perhaps the biggest area pipeline with 10 area players on the roster. The success has come mostly at two schools: Largo and Plant. There are two former Packers (defensive back Jonathan Crawford and receiver Donavan Hale) and four former Panthers (linebacker Thomas Allen, defensive back Juwan Burgess, receiver Whop Philyor and kicker Stephen Yaffe) with the program.

This run was due in large part to Greg Frey, the offensive line coach who recruited the area. Frey left to go to Michigan but the trend should continue with the promotion of defensive coordinator Tom Allen to head coach.

Allen was a former high school coach in the area and was the defensive coordinator at USF before joining Indiana last year.

Plant linebacker Micah McFadden committed to the Hoosiers earlier this week and Armwood quarterback Devin Black has narrowed his choices to Indiana and Louisville.



Berkeley Prep DL Mayan Ahanotu can tick off many reasons why he picked the Gophers.

PJ Fleck is another coach with Buccaneers roots making inroads in the area. The Gophers landed Wiregrass Ranch/IMG defensive back Shamaur McDowell and Berkeley Prep defensive lineman Mayan Ahanotu. Both turned down offers from other big-time programs.

Fleck, a former receivers coach with the Buccaneers under Greg Schiano, has put more of an emphasis on the state. The Gophers currently have just four players from Florida on the roster and none from the bay area.

McDowell and Ahanotu are among the three Florida commits Minnesota has so far in the 2018 class.

"The people, opportunities, academics and football are the big reasons I decided on Minnesota," Ahanotu said. "I think it's great to have all the commits that we have right now. All of the people that have committed I know are great people and leaders that will help Minnesota get to that next level."

Penn State

Monica Herndon | Times

When Penn State recruits Florida, it usually lands locals like Plant DL Judge Culpepper.

The Nittany Lions typically do not recruit much in Florida. But the state players they do land are usually from the bay area.

Penn State has two Floridians on the roster: defensive back Amani Oruwariye (Gaither) and receiver Cody Hodgens (Robinson). Receiver KJ Hamler is from Michigan but played at IMG.

The only two state commits in the 2018 class also are from the area: Wiregrass Ranch defensive back Jordan Miner and Plant defensive lineman Judge Culpepper. Both are ranked among the top 75 players in Florida by 247Sports.

Miner said he is actively recruiting other state players to join the Nittany Lions.


Monica Herndon | Times

Wesley Chapel DB Isaiah Bolden flipped from FSU to Oregon.

The impact of having former USF coach Willie Taggart in charge is noticeable. With flashy facilities and the lure of playing at a Power Five school, Taggart has been able to land the top-tier bay area players that eluded him with the Bulls.

Already, the Ducks have commitments from Wesley Chapel defensive back Isaiah Bolden, Tampa Bay Tech defensive lineman Jonathan King and Armwood receiver Warren Thompson. All are major prospects who turned down offers from state schools such as Florida and FSU.

The local haul does not include former Armwood athlete Darrian McNeal and former Pinellas Park defensive lineman Jordon Scott, who are currently freshmen at Oregon.

There could be more. Armwood defensive lineman Malcolm Lamar and Jefferson receiver Jermaine Eskridge have the Ducks among their short list of schools.

Jimbo Fisher is out-recruiting Willie Taggart and Dan Mullen (so far)

Jimbo Fisher is out-recruiting Willie Taggart and Dan Mullen (so far)

ATLANTA — We don't yet know how well Jimbo Fisher will do in his first season at Texas A&M. What we do know already is that he's recruiting at a very high level in College Station.Which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who followed hi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bryce Harper wins All-Star home run derby

Bryce Harper wins All-Star home run derby

WASHINGTON — Nationals star Bryce Harper has not had a lot to enjoy in his last season before free agency, struggling — at least by his usual standards — with a .214 average and other deficiencies in his game.Monday turned out to be...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays journal: Some warn that pitching strategy comes at a price

Rays journal: Some warn that pitching strategy comes at a price

WASHINGTON — The success the Rays have had during two months of using a game opener followed by a relieving starter seems to have tamed some of the criticism of the unusual plan.Until Arizona ace Zack Greinke, a Cy Young award winner and five-t...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays’ Blake Snell now in a starring role

Rays’ Blake Snell now in a starring role

WASHINGTON — Blake Snell first got the feeling after arriving at the All-Star hotel late Sunday night. He'd shared the first-class cabin on the Delta flight from Minneapolis with Rays teammate Wilson Ramos plus manager Kevin Cash and his wife, ...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Sports on TV/Radio for Tuesday, July 17

TODAYBaseballAll-Star Game8 p.m.Fox; 620-AMCycling, Tour de FranceStage 107:30 a.m.NBCSNLacrosseWorld Championship: Australia vs. Canada7:30 a.m.ESPNUWorld Championship: England vs. United States11 a.m.ESPNUNBA, summer leagueChampionship10 p.m.ESPN...
Updated: 10 hours ago
SEC media days: LSU’s season could be defined by Miami, Gators

SEC media days: LSU’s season could be defined by Miami, Gators

ATLANTA — With criticism already heating up on LSU coach Ed Orgeron, don't be surprised if the Tigers' season ends up getting defined by their performance against two Florida teams.The first comes on the Sunday of opening weekend, against Miami...
Updated: 11 hours ago
SEC media days: Pressure already on for Jimbo Fisher

SEC media days: Pressure already on for Jimbo Fisher

ATLANTA — When new Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher walked to the stage Monday for his first SEC media days, he knew exactly what to say.Howdy."That's an A&M thing," Fisher explained.So Fisher knows how the Aggies say hello. Which is progress,...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Captain’s Corner: Warm water brings algae blooms

It’s been a hot summer. This week water temps crept up to sweltering 90 degrees at the surface inshore. We saw 88 degrees on the surface temps offshore. The deeper the water, the cooler the water temps were found, especially toward the bottom. Wit...
Published: 07/16/18
Tune into the only All Star Game that matters

Tune into the only All Star Game that matters

Summer was for beach days and watermelons and shorty pajamas and fighting with my brother over who gets to sleep in front of the fan.And summer was for the MLB All-Star Game.They'll hold the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday night at Washington's National...
Published: 07/16/18
Jimbo Fisher: ‘I love Jameis…unfortunately he made some bad decisions’

Jimbo Fisher: ‘I love Jameis…unfortunately he made some bad decisions’

ATLANTA — Jimbo Fisher defended every step of the way at Jameis Winston at Florida State, so it shouldn't be a surprise that he continues to back his former quarterback, even though both have moved on.Fisher, now the coach at Texas A&M, sa...
Published: 07/16/18