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Recruiting notebook: Seven-on-seven craze hits Pinellas County

LARGO — The proliferation of summer seven-on-seven tournaments — and Hillsborough County's emphasis on and success in them — has yielded some big-time exposure for programs such as Plant (which wrapped up play in Oregon on Friday), Jefferson (which hosts an NFL event this weekend) and Armwood.

Marcus Paschal would like to get Pinellas County in on the action.

Friday night at Largo, the Paschal Youth Weekend kicked off with an eight-team event in which Palm Harbor University beat East Lake in the final.

Paschal, a Largo and Iowa graduate who will report for his second season as a Ravens defensive back in two weeks, is starting small but hoping for bigger things.

"We'll sit down and talk about (making it bigger) next year," Paschal said. "Look at Hillsborough. They get so much hype and recruiting exposure off the seven-on-sevens. That's something that the guys over here deserve. There's talent over here.

"Sometimes, it's just a matter of being noticed."

Paschal's inaugural event wasn't crawling with scouts, but that can change. To his credit, the seven-on-seven was merely added on to a city cleanup and free camp he is putting on for area youngsters from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.

Because so many high school players inquired about coming out for some tutoring from Paschal, former Seminole High star and current Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and others, he decided to host a seven-on-seven tournament the night before.

"I've been itching to do a youth camp, and this just grew out of that," Paschal said. "Hopefully, we can do a lot more next year. I think it's a good thing. I think we need more of these."

STANDING OUT: Dunedin's Sherrod Harriel had a big spring game in a win over Lakewood, and he vexed the Spartans again Friday — as well as everybody else.

A 6-foot-2, 180-pounder who qualified for state in the high jump, Harriel made a handful of spectacular catches and could be a nice sleeper at receiver with a big season and qualifying score.

Harriel said Florida A&M and Rutgers have expressed interest.

BIG MEN SHINING: It's not often you see defensive linemen running and catching passes at a seven-on-seven, but two of Pinellas County's best looked like they're going to make pretty nice tight ends in their spare time.

Largo's Adarius Rayner, a 6-3, 250-pounder who was recently named an MVP at the Down and Dirty Camp for linemen, was running with the Packers offense.

Rayner runs a 4.8 40-yard dash and has soft hands. He's versatile enough to play linebacker and tight end, though he is being recruited as a defensive tackle. He has a handful of offers and says Indiana is probably his favorite at this point.

Lakewood junior defensive end Dante Fowler also had a few passes tossed his way. Fowler says he has oral offers from Florida, Florida State, Tennessee and Ohio State — to name a few — and recently picked up an offer from USF as well.

"I had a 20-minute conversation with (USF coach) Skip Holtz," Fowler said. "And he said he was going to see to it that I stayed in Florida."

PLANT FALLS IN OREGON: Plant's run at the prestigious NIKE 7ON national tournament came to a bit of a disappointing end as it lost to Cleveland Glenville High 27-21 in Friday's consolation final.

The Panthers finished the event with a 3-3 record.

Plant came into the elimination round as the No. 2 seed from its division but was upset in the quarterfinals by California's Gardena High 20-7. It was a rare misfire for the offense as it was held scoreless after taking the opening drive in for a touchdown. Phillip Ely was intercepted twice in the second half.

Ely bounced back in the consolation semifinals as he hit Antonio Crawford for a long touchdown against Arlington (Texas) Martin with a minute left to give Plant a 19-13 victory.

The consolation final was a back-and-forth affair as Crawford and Scott Greacen scored touchdowns, the latter giving Plant a 21-19 advantage. But Glenville answered the touchdown and intercepted Nick Sanders on the Panthers' final possession.

John C. Cotey can be reached at (813) 406-0530 or johncotey@gmail.com Times correspondent Corey Long contributed to this report.

Recruiting notebook: Seven-on-seven craze hits Pinellas County 07/09/10 [Last modified: Saturday, July 10, 2010 4:32pm]
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