With the high school football regular season starting this week, coaches and players from across the state are gearing up. Recruiting season, however, never ends and to be successful sending players at the next level, coaches have to work around the clock.
A perfect example of how one coach works the extra hours can be found at Fleming Island, where Florida’s outstanding 2010 commit Ian Silberman plays.
“We sent out Ian’s highlight tape to over 100 schools across the country,” Fleming Island coach Neal Chipoletti said. “If a kid demonstrates the interest in playing college football, we will do everything we can to help them out.”
Fleming Island offensive line coach Damenyum Springs has known all along that he has a big time player on his hands. He knew it wouldn’t be long until the rest of the country discovered what he already knew.
“A lot of people didn’t know or hadn’t seen him,” Springs said of Silberman, whose first season as a starter was last season as a sophomore. “His highlight film was nice and people said ‘wow, how did we miss this kid?’ Then everyone jumped [to try and recruit him].”
Chipoletti said he bought $1,500 worth of DVDs, in order to make highlight tapes for his players and also has invested heavily into audio-visual equipment to help make the process go smooth.
Things have paid off quickly for Fleming Island, which has sent 30 players to college in only five seasons of fielding a varsity football team.
Overall, it takes a total commitment from everyone involved at the program to help kids make it to the next level.
“My principal and athletic director have been very supportive of everything we’ve done,” Chipoletti said. “They’ve allowed me to bring in talented coaches … the coaches who coach for me are professionals and do a great job with the kids.”
Ocala Trinity Catholic coach John Brantley III has been through the recruiting as a player, coach and parent.
His son, John IV, is currently a backup quarterback for Florida and led Trinity Catholic to the Class 2B state championship in 2005 and the state championship game in 2006.
The pipeline of recruiters through Ocala has been immense and Brantley and his staff spread the word about many Celtic stars.
“We built up a pretty good reputation and we have some good D-1 players,” Brantley said. “You’ve got to have talent to keep (schools) coming up and we have worked hard here to achieve a high level of success.”
Brantley said 48 schools came to Trinity Catholic’s practices during the spring, with some seldom seen visitors showing more interest than ever before.
“We had a lot of schools from the northeast come down,” Brantley said. “They all want that speed (we have in Florida).”
A GOOD START: Florida commit Jon Halapio was in Gainesville for the Hawaii game this past weekend, following a strong performance on Friday night.
St. Petersburg Catholic lost to Keswick Christian 16-13 in its fall classic this past Friday, but Halapio was dominant.
“He played great on both sides of the ball,” said SPC coach Tod Creneti of Halapio, who will play guard at Florida.
SHARKS PRODUCING TALENT: Brooksville Nature Coast Technical High School has earned back-to-back playoff appearances and came within a late turnover of knocking off three-time Class 3A state semifinalist Sparr North Marion in last year’s opening round of the Class 3A regional playoffs.
Sophomore tight end Brady Ellison (6-3, 221) runs a 4.69 in the 40-yard dash and was a key blocker for junior tailback Tevin Drake, who rushed for 1,527 yards and scored 22 touchdowns last season.
“He’s a big strong kid who did a great job blocking for us last season,” Nature Coast coach Jaime Joyner said. “We run the ball mainly on offense, but we plan to utilize (Ellison) more [in the passing game] this season.”
Another player who has the Nature Coast staff excited is freshman defensive end Gary Myrick (6-4, 238), who already bench presses 300 pounds and cleans 285. Myrick also has excellent speed off the edge, aided by a time of 4.83 in the 40.
TURNING TEAL: Ocala West Port High School will run the wishbone featuring two tight ends this season. The player who will get the most attention from recruiters, however, is a wide receiver.
Markee Teal, a 6-foot-5 sophomore who is playing his first year of football, impressed his coaches during the spring and made an impact against Brooksville Hernando in the Wolf Pack’s classic.
“He’s got a great chance to be a big-time player,” said West Port coach Jim Lindsey, who will also use Teal in the secondary. “He’s got it all and once he gets some more experience and learns the game, he is going to be even better.”
GATOR-AID: Ocala Trinity Catholic will put in a new wrinkle in order to take advantage of junior receiver Kadron Boone.
Trinity Catholic’s Brantley III plans to use Boone as a quarterback in what he calls the team’s “Percy Harvin Package.”
“It’s going to be exciting,” said Brantley.
MORE TO COME: Brantley says the future looks bright for the Trinity Catholic, which played in the 2005-06 Class 2B state title games and sent numerous players to the next level.
Sophomore Jeremiah Gates (6-0, 210) is one to watch.
The fullback-linebacker squats 545 pounds and deadlifts 455 and has good speed to go along with his power.
“If he stays in the weight room, he has a chance to be a real special player,” Brantley said.
COULD IT CONTINUE?: Groveland South Lake has another star in the making.
Outside linebacker Stanley Evans (6-0, 180, Jr.) runs a 4.5 in the 40 and is comparable to UF’s Lerentee McCray of Dunnellon.
“There is a lot of interest in him,” South Lake coach Walter Banks said. “What schools really like about him is his closing speed. They can put the weight on him (in college). He’s a D-1 kid.”
NUMBER OF THE WEEK: 29: The Number of players in last year’s Ponte Vedra Beach Nease-North Marion game who inked deals to play college football. The two teams met this week in St. Johns County. Nease pounded North Marion 34-12 last season.