TAMPA — With at least 18 colleges on hand to take in Friday's jamboree at Robinson, with the marquee half being played by Jefferson and Plant, the chance for players to impress could not have been any better.
Jefferson's Chris Moore took advantage. In a jamboree with more than 15 players in the 2011 class already holding scholarship offers, no one shined more.
He caught a long touchdown on the first play, scored again on a jump ball fade, then set up another touchdown by outplaying a Panthers defender on a long pass and making a leaping catch near the goal line — right in front of two Florida State assistants.
It will be surprising if the Seminoles don't offer a scholarship within a week.
FSU didn't get a chance to talk to Moore following his big performance. Others did.
Moore said he had a message on his cell phone from Auburn by the time he got to the team bus, Florida International e-mailed him (and has already offered), Illinois called and wanted the details of his game, and Texas Tech told one of the Dragons' assistant coaches they were now fully interested.
"That game," Moore said the morning after, "really helped me out."
The plan was to win the half of action, but Moore said it was in the back of every player's head to put on a show for the scouts.
"During our pregame meal, Coach (Mike) Fenton told us there were going to be a lot of scouts there and the better you do the better your chances are of getting recognized," Moore said. "With all the receivers we have, everybody is not going to get the ball a lot. So every catch you get, you have to try and score."
Moore has six offers — FIU, UCF, Alabama-Birmingham, Towson, Youngstown State and Illinois — and he says he is grateful for every one. But until Illinois came in last week, the bigger schools from BCS conferences hadn't come calling.
This week, you can bet they will.
Six jamboree observations
1. Any scouts on hand to watch Jefferson's Andre Davis probably ended up being more impressed with Plant's Eric Patterson. A rising senior, Patterson stayed with Davis all night, only yielding a 30-yard reception that was more the result of a perfectly thrown ball by Quentin Williams to Davis' outside shoulder. Despite giving up 5 inches in height to the unstoppable-around-the-goal line Freak Show, Patterson broke up one fade pass in the end zone and knocked down two other passes for Davis.
Defensively, it was the most superb performance of the night.
2. Ramik Wilson's catch-and-run on a 70-yard dump-off ushers in the rising senior linebacker as an offensive force to watch for 2010, and colleges looking for a tight end might want to take a closer look.
3. I know they say he's "too short," but Williams (6 feet) continues to shine. His pocket presence is outstanding, and he showed it off on Wilson's touchdown by making a spin move based purely on feel to avoid getting sacked by James Wilder Jr.
4. Can Hunter Joyer be classified as a poor man's Wilder Jr.? Against Nature Coast, the Tampa Catholic running back showed he will have no problem moving from fullback to featured back, and he made a number of impact plays on defense at linebacker. His star is just beginning to take off.
5. Nature Coast's Ja'Juan Story picked up an offer from Texas A&M after the Sharks' loss to Tampa Catholic. He did not have a big game, and it will be interesting to see how new coach Mark Nash uses him this season. He'd like to play him at wide receiver, where Story is being recruited, but Nash may have to play him at quarterback out of necessity, which will hinder his productiveness.
6. Tampa Bay Tech's Jonathon Williams was near-perfect passing against Freedom, which is supposed to have a pretty good defense. Minus the passing, Williams is a good athlete. Throw in some throwing like we saw Friday, and the rising senior could be a nice sleeper pick.
Kickers need love, too
Scholarships for kickers are as rare as 5-foot-9 quarterbacks going to Division I-A, but some local kickers are earning attention, thanks to strong performances at the recent Ray Guy/ProKicker.com Kicking Academies.
Tarpon Springs' Michael Hill won the long-distance field goal and long-distance kickoff competitions at the Jacksonville camp. At the Tampa/Bradenton camp two weeks ago, Clearwater Central Catholic's Blake Myregaard posted the best punt hang time at 4.47 seconds and was third overall.
According to Prokicker.com's rankings, Hill is the fifth-rated kicker in the country. Others in the top 25 include Myregaard (No. 8) and St. Petersburg's Rae'Shaun Washington (25), who recently was named to the academy's top three kicker and punter rankings for this year's Jacksonville camp.
John C. Cotey can be reached at (727) 580-3691 or [email protected]