Blake's sack-happy sophomore defensive lineman Shavar Manuel doesn't graduate until 2016, but 247Sports and the U.S. Army aren't wasting any time.
Manuel, a 6-foot-3, 260-pounder, was invited to play in the 2016 U.S. Army All-American game Wednesday, and followed that up by making a giant splash in the 247Sports latest rankings, coming in at No. 2 overall for the class of 2016.
A big body with the strength and explosiveness to play almost anywhere on the line, Manuel has been a destructive force for the Yellow Jackets his first two seasons. Last fall, Manuel had 19 sacks, including at least one in nine games. For his career, he has 29 sacks, 74 tackles and three caused fumbles.
"His all-around game makes him good,'' said 247Sports analyst Josh Newberg, part of the team that helps make the selections for the U.S. Army game. "It's neither as a pass rusher or a run stopper; he's just a beast. And he's only just scratching the surface."
Though Blake's coaches have kept a tight lid on Manuel's burgeoning popularity with college coaches, the Yellow Jacket quietly holds offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Kentucky, North Carolina, Miami and Tennessee.
A Times' all-county and all-Suncoast pick, as well as a member of last year's HomeTeam100 as a freshman, Manuel is the third local football player now holding an Army invite, joining Armwood's Byron Cowart, Sickles' Ray Ray McCloud and Tampa Bay Tech's Deon Cain, who were all extended an offer to play in the 2015 game.