Sunday, April 22, 2018
Sports

Recruiting heats up

College commitments continue to pile up week after week this summer. Here are some recent ones you might have missed:

Dunedin: Left-handed pitcher/first baseman Eric Sexton and right-handed pitcher/outfielder Aaron Turman made their college choices. Sexton committed to play at Rollins College in Winter Park. Turman will play at South Florida State College in Avon Park.

Sexton had Tommy John surgery prior to his senior season. As a pitcher he was 1-1 with a 1.88 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 22.1 innings pitched. He also hit .346 with 17 RBIs. Turman hit .397 with three home runs and 15 RBIs. As a pitcher he was 1-2 with a 3.10 ERA in 40.2 innings.

East Bay: Defensive lineman Marques Ford committed to Tennessee on Saturday. Ford, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound rising senior, made his choice during a visit to the school on its "Orange Carpet Day," choosing the Volunteers over a handful of offers including USF, UCF and Clemson. Ford had 10 sacks and 67 tackles last season, 17.5 for loss. He was No. 16 in the Tampa Bay Times' HomeTeam 100, the second-highest defensive lineman.

East Lake: Defensive back Justin Strnad committed to Wake Forest "because of the high-level academics, the coaching staff, the campus, the people and the ACC," he said. Last season, Strnad had 81 tackles and a fumble recovery. His recruiting picked up in the spring with 18 offers. He said he decided on the Demon Deacons over UCF and Illinois. Last month, Strnad visited Wake Forest, which wants him to be a hybrid linebacker who can excel in pass coverage.

Lakewood: Recent graduate Donterio Fowler committed to Akron after attending prep school to become eligible. Fowler said he went to Atlanta Sports Academy to get a composite ACT score of 18 (he scored 20). He finishes with the prep school Friday and said he plans to enroll at Akron in January.

"I'll train the next few months and go to all my brother's football games," said Fowler, whose older brother, Dante, is a defensive lineman for the Florida Gators.

Fowler did a little of everything for the Spartans last season. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards and had more than 600 yards in kick returns. He said Akron plans to use him as a running back and receiver.

Pinellas Park: Cornerback Rashaan Watson committed to South Alabama. "I just like where South Alabama as a football program is going," he said. "They're up and coming, and it feels like home."

South Alabama started its football program in 2009 before moving up to Division I-A and the Sun Belt Conference. Watson chose the Jaguars over Georgia Southern and Georgia State.

Last season, Watson recorded 72 tackles and four interceptions to help the Patriots advance to the Class 7A region semifinals.

Also committing for the Patriots, running back Donte Maxson picked Mercer University in Macon, Ga. Maxson also had offers from North Dakota State, Air Force, Georgia State and Wofford.

Maxson was one of the Patriots' top rushers as a junior. He gained 1,208 yards on 105 carries and scored 14 touchdowns. He also had an impressive spring game against Orlando Evans, which included a 50-yard touchdown run.

"Donte is the man,'' coach Kenny Crawford said. "He's a fast, tough runner. He's going to be big for us this season.''

Plant: Former Panthers right-hander and outfielder Matt Vaka has committed to pitch at North Florida. Vaka, who only pitched two games last season and finished with a 1.00 ERA, often played designated hitter as a senior, recording a .330 batting average, 18 RBIs, nine doubles, four triples and two home runs. In May, Vaka, a Times' second-team all-Hillsborough County selection, pitched in the Hillsborough vs. Pinellas Senior All-Star game at Tropicana Field.

Tampa Catholic: Wide receiver Nate Craig committed to Auburn, he announced via Twitter on Monday night.

"First off I wanna Thank God for blessing me with the talent I have, and want to thank all the schools that recruited me!" he tweeted. "I will be taking my talents to Auburn University!"

Craig, a four-star recruit, is No. 6 on ESPN's top 300 for the class of 2016 and has more than 40 college offers.

As a sophomore last season at Pasco, Craig was a Times' second-team all-North Suncoast selection. He recorded 203 yards on 19 receptions and 117 rushing yards on 16 carries, scoring seven total touchdowns.

Spongers K gets Under Armour invite

Tarpon Springs' Louis Zervos was one of four kickers selected for January's Under Armour game at Tropicana Field.

Zervos, a rising senior, earned a roster spot after a strong performance at a Kohl's kicking camp over the weekend.

"(I made it) by winning the camp," Zervos said. "Kohl's does all the ESPN rankings and selects the two kickers, two punters and two long snappers for the game."

Last season, Zervos was 41 of 45 on PATs and 9 of 13 on field goals. His longest was 49 yards, but he has made field goals from as far as 65 yards in practice.

Zervos is ranked among the top 25 kickers in the nation by Kohl's and could move into the top 10 after last week's performance. He has no offers to kick in college yet.

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