When it comes to showering praise upon senior MLB Michael Mirabella, Plant football coach Robert Weiner doesn't hold back.
"If there is a better defensive player in Florida, someone has got to show me the film," Weiner said. "Of all the players I've coached at any position, he's the most instinctive kid I've had."
Let's pause for a moment to put that statement into perspective.
Weiner has coached, among others, TE Orson Charles (now at Georgia), QB Robert Marve (Purdue), QB Aaron Murray (Georgia) and OL Rhonne Sanderson (Florida State).
"Michael is the whole package," Weiner said.
The problem is, that package is only 6-foot, 205 pounds, which concerns some college coaches and is likely why the three-year starter has yet to get a scholarship offer. Weiner, of course, thinks they're wrong, and he isn't afraid to tell them.
For Mirabella, the snubbing serves as motivation.
"I don't let it bother me," he said. "I just play."
In all likelihood, Mirabella won't be without an offer for long.
Not only is he talented (he was all-state last year), he's smart both on the field (he has called he plays for the defense since his sophomore season) and off (4.6 grade point average).
At last check, Dartmouth, Princeton and Wofford, all Division I-AA programs, seemed most interested. Northern Illinois and Purdue are among the I-A schools that write him.
For the hard-hitting Mirabella, patience could be key.
As Weiner pointed out, there's a "trickle-down effect" in recruiting. When a school such as Alabama gets its man, that creates an opening with another school, and so forth and so on. As slots begin to fill in the coming weeks, schools that miss out on bigger linebackers will eventually find their way to Plant, he predicted.
When they do, Mirabella will be waiting.
"I think I can play anywhere," Mirabella said matter of factly.
CYCLONES HIT TAMPA: Few teams are pushing for as many local football recruits as Iowa State. Last week, the Cyclones got a commitment from Gibbs athlete Jarvis West and an official visit from Clearwater LB Jeremiah George. They're also recruiting Tarpon Springs RB Adrian Golden and Hillsborough QB Tarean Austin. ISU defensive coordinator Wally Burnham is a former USF assistant. Gene Chizik, the Cyclones coach before moving to Auburn this season, was raised in Clearwater.
SWIMMER near decision: Look for Palm Harbor University swimming star Wes Stearns to pick his college either this week or next. Stearns, the defending Class 3A champion in the 200-yard freestyle and runnerup in the 500 free, has narrowed his choices to Florida, Harvard and Virginia. He recently eliminated Princeton.
QUICK HITTERS: Tarpon Springs junior OL Zach DeBell, who is 6-foot-7, 250 pounds, is getting early interest from a few schools. He took an unofficial visit to one of them, Ole Miss, last week. … Plant junior RB/DE James Wilder Jr. already has accumulated about 30 offers, including ones from Florida, Tennessee and LSU. Missouri, the school his father, former Tampa Bay Bucs RB James Wilder Sr., played at, also has made an offer.
Got recruiting news? Contact Keith Niebuhr at firstname.lastname@example.org.