Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Sports

Recruiting: Camp efforts can create more buzz for under-the-radar players

Because Tampa Bay is a regular stop for most major college scouts the past few years, this spring is bound to yield a bushel of offers for local players. But how many?

Fifty? 100?

Maybe more?

While most of the well-known players will just see their already significant offer total grow, there's others, such as Andy Embody, hoping to join their ranks.

The Carrollwood Day rising senior receiver knows it won't be easy.

For players such as Embody, a small but highly productive small-school player, that dream is often tempered by things like his size (5-foot-9, 165 pounds) and his school's competition.

But in other environments, Embody has proved he's more than you might think.

Last weekend at the IMG Madden Football Academy in Bradenton, Embody earned offensive MVP honors.

Coming off a season in which he averaged 20 yards a catch, caught seven touchdown passes and added 68 tackles and three interceptions, Embody believes he can open more eyes this spring. He says he is a much-improved player. At IMG, the emphasis was on learning to get in and out of his cuts faster, breaking flatter to create separation and playing physical football, all things Embody excels at.

The biggest lesson: Play fast all the time.

"Every route needs to look the same those first few steps. You can't give away the route. Probably one of the most important things I learned," Embody said.

"Andy showed up with great effort in each and every drill," said IMG Madden Football Academy receivers coach Pat Carter. "He has great quickness, is coachable and he catches the ball well with his hands and eyes. He showed an ability to make tough catches in traffic. Andy is a guy that is going to show up each time and give you great effort."

Embody doesn't have any offers yet, but he has been to junior days at Southern Methodist University and Princeton, and he has been invited to John Hopkins next month.

His smarts, on and off the field, have also attracted attention from Tulane, Davidson and Furman, schools he might visit this summer.

UNKNOWN STANDOUTS: Embody wasn't the only off-the-recruiting-radar local player to stand out at IMG last week.

Tyler Small, Jefferson's rising junior quarterback and a backup to Deiondre Porter last season, was named camp MVP.

IMG Madden Football Academy director and former FSU standout quarterback Chris Weinke said because of Small's lack of starting experience, he is ranked lower than he should be, but if he continues to develop he should be one of the better quarterbacks by his senior season.

Defensive lineman Brad Smith was named defensive big man MVP. The only concern with Smith, who led Hillsborough County in sacks last season, is whether he can put on more size to be a Division I lineman, which Jesuit coach James Harrell says he is.

"Brad is a tall, rangy defensive lineman with very good quickness, and very good knee bend," said IMG Madden Football Academy defensive lineman coach Tom Pratt. "He's a smart kid that is receptive to coaching, and with physical growth, has ability to play at the Division I level. He has an excellent speed rush with ability to dip his inside shoulder to make a turn upfield quickly."

LONG JAUNT TO NFL: There are plenty of these, but here's yet another great example for those players frustrated by their recruiting status, or lack thereof.

Lakewood's Jonte Green wasn't a hot recruit coming out of high school in 2007. In a year when Armwood's Torrey Davis, Plant's Robert Marve and Jefferson's Stephen Garcia were ranked 1-2-3 in the Times' 25 Best of the Bay, Green wasn't making any lists.

But after a year at Benedict College in South Carolina, he transferred to New Mexico State, earned a starting role at cornerback and had solid junior and senior seasons.

Saturday, Green was drafted in the sixth round by the Detroit Lions.

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Published: 02/19/18