As the Feb. 2 signing day approaches and the current recruiting season nears an end, camp and combine season for 2012 prospects kicked off last week at the Under Armour event for juniors in Orlando. It was the first in a wave of events in the coming months that will help establish a prospect's rank in next year's recruiting class.
For many, it is a chance to attract the attention of colleges and scouts, to get on the recruiting radar.
But for those who already are considered top prospects, such as Lakewood DE Dante Fowler, it's a chance to jockey for position when those rankings do come out.
"Of course I want to be the top guy (at defensive end)," Fowler said. "By the time it comes around, I want to be No. 1 or No. 2. But really, it's just a blessing to be able to compete with the best. I was going against the best offensive linemen in my class, and I know that if they can't stop me then nobody can."
If Fowler was hoping to create a buzz at the UA event, he succeeded, wowing most of those in attendance. Former NFL defensive end and University of Miami standout Kenard Lang, now coach at Orlando Jones, told ESPN.com that Fowler "is a great player. He's got all the tools that the college recruiters are looking for. He's very fast, strong and smart. Dante has the 'it' factor, and he's got ability that can't be taught."
Fowler, who is 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, ran 40 yards in 4.65 seconds, which he said is his fastest time ever. He said he's shooting for 4.5 at the Nike camp in Orlando in March. He also said Lakewood coach Corey Moore reiterated this week that Fowler was going to be the Spartans starting running back next season.
Fowler also has another reason for going to every camp he can: little brother Donterio.
Donterio Fowler, who started this past season on the junior varsity before a promotion to varsity, is a 5-8, 160-pound slot receiver who, Dante says, has great speed and is working at becoming as big a recruit as big brother.
While Dante Fowler committed to Florida State in December, he probably can't be described as a rock-solid get for the Seminoles just yet.
He said he will still entertain offers — he said new Gators coach Will Muschamp talked to him Thursday and indicated Florida is still interested and would like him to come to their upcoming junior day — and described himself as "committed but still peeking around."
"You never know what can happen between now and signing day," he said.
One thing he is sure he wants to happen, however, is that he wants to be considered the top defensive end recruit in the country.
NOT A BAD Back: Plant's James Wilder Jr., who many scouts believe projects better as a linebacker in college, continued to make Florida State look smart and prove he just might be making the right call in insisting he play running back.
On a late fourth-quarter drive during Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl, he mixed in his signature stiff-arm with a few longer runs and scored on a 3-yard run that proved the difference in the East's 13-10 victory in San Antonio, Texas.
"That last drive I got my rhythm, and things started happening for our offense with good blocks," said Wilder, who had four carries and 26 of his 39 yards on the winning drive. "I just did my part and ran it in."
TEXAS EYES: Plant WR Austin Aikens, Countryside QB Gray Crow, Land O'Lakes TE Kent Taylor, Tampa Catholic DB Tyree Holder and Brandon WR Jalen Stringfellow were listed and expected to participate in Friday's U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio, according to Rivals.com.