Anclote running back Willie Barrett has spent his summer vacation the same way as many recruits across Tampa Bay: traveling the country to compete at college football camps.
In a span of less than two weeks, the hard-hitting 6-foot, 210-pound senior has stopped at Auburn, Mississippi State, Georgia, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Elon.
“That was just the first round,” Barrett said.
Round 2 will come next month, with stops likely to include Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee State and Furman.
Barrett said he doesn’t think many recruiters stop in Pasco County, so he wanted to make sure colleges saw his skills so they could consider offering him a scholarship. Those road trips have presented new challenges — like how to compete at your best after sitting in a car for 10 consecutive hours.
“It’s fun, but it’s a lot of sitting in the car, looking at the road the whole time,” Barrett said.
Barrett has made the trips with his parents, stuffing sandwiches and fruit into their 2012 Chrysler minivan. To pass the time, Barrett caught up on sleep while spreading out in the back seat — an important act, considering his family spent only two nights in a hotel.
The final tally for the 1,400-yard rusher: More than 3,700 miles in 12 days.
The recent six-day, five-campus bus tour organized by Unsigned Preps founder Ricky Sailor made not only a handful of stops for gas, but at least two for gastronomical warfare.
The first was at a Chinese restaurant, where 6-foot-2, 220-pound Gaither OLB/DE Brad Smith outperformed 330-pound Plant City OG Montel McBride. The two were among roughly 40 players traveling with Sailor, whose nonprofit group helps expose prep standouts to college programs.
“I love Chinese food. I’m big on sushi,” said McBride, who has four SEC offers. “It’s very filling but no one realizes it. … (Smith) was eating everything else — noodles, rice.”
McBride exacted his revenge one slice at a time. At a CiCi’s Pizza somewhere outside Nashville, shortly after the tour’s stop at Vanderbilt, McBride consumed 40 slices. His palate didn’t discriminate among the spinach pies, cheese, meat lovers’ or plain pepperoni.
Smith, he said, stopped just shy of 30.
“He tries to take the whole long, steady kind of approach and eat five to six pieces at a time,” McBride said. “I stack up my plate like, 15 or 16 pieces deep and I order a pizza on the side of that. We wound up going back and forth.”
For the record, Sailor said he recalls Jefferson CB Chavez Pownell winning the mozzarella throwdown with 35 slices. McBride’s response: “I ate more than him; don’t let (Sailor) fool you.”
Lakewood offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn takes off on Sunday to attend The Opening in Beaverton, Ore. Unlike several of his fellow campers, including locals Artavis Scott of East Lake and Corey Martinez of Tampa Catholic, Wynn will not be making his college choice on national television.
“I’m going to wait until signing day,” Wynn said. “I’m going to make all my official visits before I make a final decision.”
Wynn, 6-foot-3, 285 pounds, already has offers from nearly 30 Division I schools including Miami, Florida State, USF, Michigan State, Georgia and Mississippi State. He is one of 162 high school players selected to attend The Opening at Nike headquarters.
Wynn said he has never been to the West Coast, but he wouldn’t rule out selecting a school in that part of the country.
“But the only ones I would consider are USC and Oregon,” he said. “USC came down here to see me already.”
Wynn said he does not have any other trips planned this summer.
Also on the Lakewood front, defensive back Brujoun Bonner picked up an offer from Bowling Green. It is his 10th offer, according to coach Cory Moore.
Staff writers Joey Knight and Rodney Page contributed to this report.
Photo: Anclote's Willie Barrett works out at the Georgia campus