LARGO — In Pinellas County, virtually no recruitment has held the intrigue as that of Largo LB Mike Marry.
That is because nearly every major prospect in the county already announced his college plans, including some as far back as May.
Marry was supposed to disclose his decision among Duke, Iowa State, Mississippi and USF before he went to sleep Tuesday night. He didn't.
The indecision helped interest in Marry's recruitment transcend that of top prospects in an anticlimactic year.
After a few huddles with coaches and family members Wednesday morning, Marry ended the drama by announcing he was signing with Mississippi.
"The decision came down to Iowa State and Mississippi," said Marry, who will join Ole Miss senior WR/RB Dexter McCluster, another Largo standout. "It was tough. I stayed up until 3:30 (Wednesday) morning."
Marry, a two-time Times Pinellas County defensive player of the year, was joined by Packers WR Mike Lang, who signed with Connecticut.
"The choice was a lot easier for me," Lang said. "I knew … I would get the chance to play right away."
Big man on campus: When Jon Halapio roams the hallways, people make room. It's easy to see why. Not many guys consume so much space.
Such is the life for the St. Petersburg Catholic offensive lineman. And for one day, it was not just his size (6 feet 4, 290 pounds) that made him overshadow his teammates.
It was his status.
Halapio, a first-team, all-state selection, signed with national champion Florida.
"I usually don't get this much attention," he said. "But it's nice to have everyone here for signing day. At least they know what I'm doing now."
sticking with USF: Though Lakewood QB/DB JaQuez Jenkins committed to USF over the summer, he still planned to visit other colleges.
Then Jenkins tore the anterior cruciate and medial lateral ligaments in his knee during the regular-season finale.
The injury scared most programs.
But not the Bulls.
"USF never wavered," Jenkins said. "They stayed with me the whole time."
Jenkins, the Times Pinellas County offensive player of the year, said he expects to recover in time for full-contact drills in August but will not be surprised if he is redshirted.
"If that happens, it will give me more time to heal," Jenkins said.
Bogie pair: Boca Ciega WR/DB Darrien Skinner and DL Julius Forte signed their letters of intent in front of family and friends in the school's auditorium.
Skinner waited until last week before deciding on Division I-AA Hofstra, where he will be reunited with former Boca Ciega standout Jonny Hartsfield.
"It's a plus that Jonny will be there," Skinner said. "And I'm not too far away from my brother Terrell (at Maryland)."
Forte made up his mind nearly a month ago to play for USF.
"I looked at other schools like N.C. State, Purdue and Louisville," Forte said. "But USF felt too perfect for me. I knew that's where I needed to be."
Last summer, Forte bonded with Armwood DL Ryne Giddins, another Bulls signee. And they were roommates during their campus visit in January.
"We got to know each other a lot this past year," Forte said. "Now we'll be competing with each other for playing time. But that will make us better."
Dixie Hollins pair: It was a pretty anticlimactic moment at Dixie Hollins, where Josh Brown signed with Iowa and WR Gerard Atkins signed with USF. Both orally committed months ago. Brown chose the Hawkeyes over Troy.
"To me, Iowa just seemed like a bigger school," he said.
Another factor for Brown was the opportunity to play exclusively on offense, at quarterback or slot receiver. He said Iowa would use him at quarterback in the Wildcat formation. Brown also said he will be roommates with Jeff Brinson, a former running back at Northeast.
The decision for Atkins was pretty clear through the whole process.
"USF was where I wanted to go all along," he said.
Atkins is projected as a tight end.