Keep in mind, it’s still a little early when discussing a topic such as the top prospects for the Class of 2014.
The players who emerge today among the sophomore class from around the country could disappear just as quickly when we start talking about those prospects in earnest a year or two from now. Even so, two-sport star Justin Brent has already emerged on both the gridiron and the hardwood as a playmaker extraordinaire just a couple of years into his high school career.
Hailing for Speedway (Ind.), Brent is a part of an impressive crop of prospects from the Hoosier State for whom the Gators are trying to get in on early. Junior defensive end Elijah Daniel (6-3, 230, Avon/Avon) has already visited UF this fall; junior linebacker Jaylon Smith (6-3, 210, Ft. Wayne/Bishop Luers) is a top target for the Gators and Brent could be the next to join that group.
Standing 6-foot-2½ and 185 pounds, Brent put together a fine sophomore campaign for Speedway High School this fall. On an 8-2 team, that finished the season with a 48-10 loss in the first round of the Indiana Class 2A sectional playoffs to North Putnam last Friday, Brent recorded over 800 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. His best performance of the year came in a 33-27 loss to Lutheran on October 8, when he recorded 10 catches for 262 yards and four touchdowns in a losing effort.
“The season went pretty well,” Brent noted. “We wanted to get farther – we had high expectations for this season. But we had a lot of people out [for that playoff game].”
Now, with his football obligations finished for the year, Brent can move on to preparing for basketball season. He also hopes to take a couple of unofficial visits if he can work them into the schedule. One SEC program is already burning up the phonelines in an effort to get him on campus.
“Arkansas wants me on campus really bad. They invited me down for the South Carolina and Tennessee games,” he reports.
The Gators also recently sent a letter and some literature to Brent’s coach. The sophomore was so excited by the move, that he moved to link a picture of the envelope to his Twitter account.
“Well, the Gators have always been my favorite team. My whole family likes them,” he noted. “When I got that [letter] – I don’t usually post that stuff – but they’re my team. My whole family knew I was waiting for that one.”
Other programs have also been in touch with Brent’s football coach, including Louisville, Penn State and Indiana. On the basketball side of things, in-state powers Indiana and Purdue have also brought him for unofficial visits already as well. With colleges already looking at at Brent in two sports, he admits there may be a tough decision ahead of him in the future.
“I always wanted to play college basketball,” Brent admits. “But then I started playing football, and now I’m leaning towards that.”
Of course, there’s still some discussions to be had on that topic with those closest to Brent.
“But my family wants me to play basketball – so we’ll see,” he adds with a laugh.
Brent expects to shift over to his more natural position of shooting guard as a sophomore while the Sparkplugs look to improve greatly on their losing record of a year ago.
“I can drive, shoot – do whatever the coaches need me to do,” Brent said. “I played the point last year, but I’m going to move to the two this year. That’s the plan at least.”
So, while Justin Brent moves towards basketball season – with the potential to possibly play one, or even two sports in college – he continues to focus on the task at hand and not let the college stuff move too closely to the foreground. Well, not yet, at least.
“It’s just a blessing, I can’t even describe it” he explained. “To be able to do it in two [sports] – a lot of people don’t get a chance in just one. I never take it for granted.”