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Freedom will produce more, coach says

Freedom’s Keith Lewis tackles Sickles quarterback John Melvin last season. Lewis has 11 offers including Michigan and Purdue.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Freedom’s Keith Lewis tackles Sickles quarterback John Melvin last season. Lewis has 11 offers including Michigan and Purdue.

TAMPA — Keith Lewis is the first. But he won't be the last, according to new Freedom football coach Tchecoy Blount.

"We have a lot of players that will be getting offers," said Blount, who was hired last month to take over for James Harrell, who moved on to Jesuit. "You just haven't heard of them yet."

Blount says to keep an eye on linebacker James Harrell Jr., lineman Josh Tanner and wideouts Robbie Lohnes and Dustin Rauh, who have been shining in 7-on-7 ball.

"We're expecting and projecting by the end of spring we should have at least three to four guys within our program with Division I offers," Blount said.

For now, the only one with anything firm is Lewis, a 6-0, 195-pound linebacker who had zero offers at the end of the 2009 season but is up to 11 after his latest ones from Michigan and Purdue.

Lewis' speed and sideline-to-sideline skills have made him one of the area's fastest rising prospects after being overshadowed countywide last year by a solid group of linebackers.

He had a strong game against Countryside in the playoffs (probably attracting an offer from Nebraska, which has already landed Cougars tackle Tyler Moore as an oral commitment), and averaged more than 10 yards a carry in some action at running back, showing off a nice burst of speed and agility.

This weekend, Lewis, who also has verbal offers from North Carolina and Iowa State, visited Florida State for the Seminoles' spring game and was expected to take part in Sunday's Ignite Combine at Hillsborough.

"He's been doing well at the combines," Blount said. "He's a guy that has been performing at a very high level."

WELL TRAVELED: Steve DeBell was recruited out of high school in the late 1970s, but all he had to go on was what he read in letters from schools. He wants to make sure his son, Tarpon Springs junior defensive lineman Zach DeBell, goes into college with his eyes wide open.

So last week while on spring break, the DeBells spent:

• Saturday in Miami for the Hurricanes' spring game.

• Sunday in Miami for a Nike combine that Zach competed in.

• Monday driving to Georgia Tech for practice and a tour.

• Tuesday waking up in Atlanta and driving to Athens (University of Georgia), Clemson and South Carolina for campus tours and to meet coaches.

• Wednesday in Chapel Hill, before leaving to drive back to Tarpon Springs at 2 p.m.

"If I had more time off work," said Steve DeBell, "we'd probably still be on the road."

LIST No. 1: Tons of lists out this week, including a national one, the Scout300, which ranked Plant's James Wilder Jr. as the No. 6 recruit in the country (No. 1 is Los Angeles athlete DeAnthony Thomas).

Other locals on the scout.com list: Countryside's Moore (61), Plant City OT/TE Jordan Prestwood (84), Jefferson WR Andre Davis (119), Nature Coast ATH Ja'Juan Story (185), DeBell (250) and Alonso DL Anthony Chickillo (289).

LIST No. 2: Elite Scouting Services/Miami Herald's state list of 100, which has three Jefferson Dragons on it, includes Wilder as the top recruit in the state, followed by Moore (6), Story (19), Prestwood (30), Chickillo (31), Jefferson WR Chris Moore (37), Davis (37), Countryside DB Alex Dixon (49), DeBell (53), Jefferson QB Quentin Williams (71), Freedom LB Keith Lewis (83), Plant OL Tony Posada (89), Hillsborough LB Rodney Williams (93) and Robinson WR Ruben Gonzalez (95).

LIST No. 3: Longtime Orlando Sentinel scribe Bill Buchalter (who also happens to be enshrined in the Boca Ciega Hall of Fame) came out with an updated Florida Top 100. It's one of the few lists that doesn't have Wilder-Tyler Moore as the clear 1-2 representatives from Tampa Bay, with Davis sneaking in at No. 7, ahead of Moore at 13, same as his February list.

New to the list: Story, who comes in at No. 32.

Otherwise, Dixon (33), Land O'Lakes' Gary Myrick (34), Quentin Williams (39) and Rodney Williams (49), Plant QB Phillip Ely (78), Chickillo (83), Land O'Lakes QB Stevie Weatherford (78), Tarpon Springs DL Brodrick Lee (89) and Hillsborough WR Charles Lovett (91) remain unchanged.

Have recruiting news? Shoot John C. Cotey an e-mail at cotey@sptimes.com

Freedom will produce more, coach says 04/10/10 [Last modified: Sunday, April 11, 2010 12:23am]

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