Plant City quarterback Bennie Coney wasn't sure what competing in the Steve Clarkson Dreammaker Tour stop in Orlando in April might do for him, but he now has his answer:
It was at that camp Coney's strong performance helped nudge him onto the national recruiting stage, and his progression through the Dreammaker stages has earned him a trip to Hawaii as one of seven finalists.
Next week, Coney - who gets to bring his mother, Zakia Morris - leaves for the second annual Steve Clarkson Super 7 retreat July 1-5 at the Grand Wailea Resort in Maui, Hawaii.
Coney is expecting to be working out with the likes of Joe Montana, Warren Moon, Matt Leinart and Matt Cassel.
"It's pretty exciting," Coney said this week from Los Angeles, where he was competing in a quarterback camp at USC. "I can't wait."
Coney, who threw for 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns last season as a sophomore, has been busy this offseason, excelling at camps and combines. Last weekend, he was excellent in leading his Plant City team to the quarterfinals of a seven-on-seven tournament at Auburn, prompting the Tigers, who have been interested since last year, to offer him.
Though he can't receive an official written offer until Sept. 1, Coney has picked up oral offers from the Tigers, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, USF, Texas Tech and Wake Forest.
Coney is firmly in the top three of the 2012 class, along with Armwood's Matt Jones and Berkeley Prep's Nelson Agholor.
But more impressive, he is routinely mentioned in the same breath as Armwood's Josh Grady, Plant's Phillip Ely and Jefferson's Quentin Williams.
"It makes me feel good, to know that people think I'm one of the best," said Coney, who is 6 feet 2, 205 pounds. "I go to these camps and always get noticed, they always make write-ups about me. In their eyes they think I'm one of the best. I'm just going to keep working hard to keep it going."
Coney said the Dreammaker Tour focused mostly on footwork and accuracy, as opposed to camps where the strongest arms seem to wow most. Since competing, he says he has a better sense of how to scan the field and make the right reads while throwing the ball quickly and on target.
For a Raiders team that features standout receivers Javonte Sykes, Lamarlin Wiggins, Jalen Butler, Colby Diers and Notre Dame commitment Jordan Prestwood, the road to a district championship may just begin in Maui.
CAMP STANDOUTS: Largo's Harry Brown and Armwood's Leon McQuay picked up awards at Dave Schuman's NUC Southeast Ultimate 100 camp in Atlanta.
Brown, a rising 5-9, 184-pound sophomore linebacker, won the linebacker MVP. He posted a 31-inch vertical jump, 8-foot, 2-inch broad jump, 4.57 shuttle, and ran a 4.58 in the 40. Schuman described him as having "well-rounded skills at his position" on his blog at nationalunderclassmen.com.
McQuay won the Dodie Donell Award for competing freshmen, given for the most complete on-field performance.
The Hawks defensive back, a 6-1, 177-pound standout, had a 31.5-inch vertical jump, ran a 4.35 shuttle, a 4.57 in the 40 and bench-pressed 135 pounds 17 times. He was also exceptional during one-on-ones.
Another local product also fared well,Nick Lomba of Wiregrass Ranch, who placed third among junior running backs.
NOTES: Tarpon Springs OT Zach DeBell says he has picked up another offer, this time from Notre Dame. Looks like he is considering trips to Auburn, Notre Dame, Ole Miss and UCLA, having already attended camps at Georgia and Tennessee this month. ... Add Oregon to the list of schools that have offered Freedom LB Keith Lewis. ... Rivals.com reported Michigan, which was the first to offer Plant OL Tony Posada (No. 11 on the St. Petersburg Times'Fab 50), is back in the lead after his visit to Ann Arbor last week, with Missouri, Rutgers, USF, Texas Tech and Tennessee in the running. ... Countryside OT Tyler Pierson (who has offers from Kansas and Colorado State) hit camps at Duke, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina and took an unofficial visit to North Carolina State. The verdict? At 6-4, 275 pounds schools are telling him he's too small for tackle, so he's working on putting on weight or mulling a position change, even though some offers to play tackle are still expected in the fall.
John C. Cotey can be reached at (813) 406-0530 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.