Posted by Bryan Fischer
TAMPA, Fla. - To play against a team of all-stars, bringing your “A game” is a must. Sometimes, even an “A+ game” isn’t enough.
Such was the case at the Badger Sports Elite 7-on-7 tournament Saturday night. Despite several terrific - some would even say ridiculous - catches by Citra (Fla.) tight end Sean Price, Team Showtime narrowly lost to all-star travel team South Florida Express in one of the most exciting games in day one round-robin play.
Price nearly pulled off the upset single-handedly, slightly misjudging a deep pass that would have given Showtime a two-score advantage late in the game. Though he didn’t make that play, the talented tight end used it as motivation.
“I’m used to making plays, that’s nothing new,” Price said. “On the last play, I felt kind of disappointed in myself though because I kind of underestimated the ball and what was going to happen. I can’t hold my head on it, it happens. I just have to play better the next game.
The 6-foot-4, 210 pound Price put on a show for much of the evening, bringing down several one-handed catches and showing off his vertical leap by out-jumping more athletic defensive backs. His best quality was the ability to attack the ball in the air and snatch it away from just about everybody. Though the Showtime team was at times relying exclusively on Price for offense, the young tight end said the team was starting to gel as the night progressed.
“We just started and have only had a few practices,” Price said. “End of the night, we’re starting to get our swag and chemistry up. Things started to click. We know we’re just as good as that team and one of the best out here.”
Price and Team Tampa/Land O’Lakes (Fla.) tight end Kent Taylor were both impressive at the position and will likely battle for the title of best in the state at the position throughout the upcoming season. Price already holds scholarship offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Florida State and others.
“Recent offers are Tennessee, Clemson, LSU, Miami and USF,” he said. “Most are looking at me on offense at tight end. A few have said I could play at defensive end if I want to because I play that in high school too.”
Given Price’s frame, adding weight and playing linebacker at the next level could be something for college coaches to consider, especially considering how well he moved in coverage in limited time on defense during the competition. With multiple schools after his services, Price plans on committing after his senior season and has already scheduled an unofficial visit to Miami next week to give a close look at one of his favorites.
“My top four would be Florida, USF, Miami and possibly Alabama,” he said. “I’m going to go wherever they give me love. If it’s out of state, doesn’t matter, I’ll go there too.”
Fuller tries his hand at safety
Another player who caught the eye of several observers with stellar play Saturday was Fort Myers (Fla.) linebacker/safety Tajarvis Fuller. Playing at both linebacker and safety, the junior used the Badger Sports 7-on-7 competition to adjust to his new position in the secondary after playing mostly linebacker in high school.
“I’m working on trying to be a better safety,” Fuller said. “All of the colleges recruiting me are recruiting me as a strong safety. I’ve never played it before so I’m working on my feet, turning my hips and getting my body right. I just want to show everybody that I’m capable of playing the safety position and showing them what I’m capable of doing.”
The 6-foot-2, 185 pound athlete displayed good quickness but was timid at times while in coverage. Thin for a linebacker, Fuller readily admitted that he would try to add some weight despite changing positions.
“I’ll be playing safety in the spring,” he said. “I still want to get bigger and bulk up 10, 15 pounds. I don’t want to get up to like 230 though.”
Holding scholarship offers from Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, UCF and UCLA, Fuller wore a Miami hat most of the afternoon and did not shy away from expressing his excitement over his most recent offer from the Hurricanes.
“We went down there last Saturday and again on Thursday,” he said. “That’s two times in one week and we talked with Coach (Al) Golden and (defensive backs coach Paul Williams). I was really excited about it. We went down there for the first spring practice.
“Illinois is recruiting me very, very heavily. Top five, Miami is number one, Clemson number two. Alabama is number three but I don’t have an offer. Georgia Tech maybe and then Illinois.”
Although Miami is firmly in the lead, Fuller’s recruitment also has one other factor that will have an effect on where he plays college football.
“Me and Christian Brown, a defensive tackle at my school, we’re going to go to the same college,” Fuller said. “The plan is to commit, maybe, after spring or right at the beginning of the fall.”
Brown’s offer list doesn’t quite match up with Fuller’s but the two do share several offers and both figure to pick up several more over the next few months.
Crow solid throwing and in commitment
The Elite 11 competition in Orlando featured a spirited competition among many of the top quarterbacks from the region and Miami commit Gray Crow was one of several that stood out from the pack. Although he might not have been the top guy at the event, he did turn in a solid performance even if he thought it wasn’t that great.
“Personally, I’m a perfectionist, so I felt like I left a little out here,” Crow said. “I felt like I could have done better. I’m going to take these drills I learned out here and use them to try and improve every single time I put my cleats on.”
Though several schools have reached out and continued to recruit him, Crow remains firmly committed to the Hurricanes for a number of reasons.
“It was my favorite school as a little kid and the combination of academics and the relationship with Coach (Jedd) Fisch and Coach Golden,” he said. “The type of people they are, match my personality. I really like that and having a pro-style offense. Then you get to play at a school like Miami also.”
“I’m set on Miami, no doubt about it.”
The Clearwater (Fla.) product recently traveled down to see Miami go through spring practice and was impressed with the new direction of the program under Golden.
“The practices are very different, very fast paced,” Crow said. “He just brings the attitude that we want to win. He has very good character like myself and he’s going in there and picking everybody back up.”
News and notes
- In addition to Crow and the other quarterbacks mentioned in an earlier update, Tampa (Fla.) quarterback Greg Windham stood out. Earning a coveted yellow jersey as one of the most accurate passers, Windham was very fluid when throwing the ball and has decent size at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds.
- Orlando (Fla.) quarterback Nick Patti surprised with a great arm despite being about 5-foot-10. A quick release and an accurate arm normally gets attention at Elite 11 competitions and Patti earned a yellow jersey as well on top of being named one of the best at the event. The only knock seems to be his height but he is a player and showed his competitiveness off at the event. He was scheduled to throw at the Badger Sports 7-on-7 later in the day but pulled a muscle according to the Orlando Sentinel.
- Class of 2013 quarterback Akeem Jones displayed a cannon of an arm in both events Saturday. He has great size at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and gets the ball to the receiver in a hurry. Jones is still raw as a passer but making the elite travel team as a sophomore is an indication of just how talented he is. He might end up playing wide receiver in college but he’s got a good head on his shoulders and a great work ethic so it wouldn’t be too surprising if he ended up getting a shot to play quarterback first.
- Former Colorado coach Dan Hawkins is an instructor at the Elite 11 this year. The always enthusiastic Hawkins said he will be attending several spring practices, starting with BYU next week, and instructing at the Elite 11 camps on the weekend. His son, former Colorado quarterback and Elite 11 counselor Cody Hawkins, is in Sweden preparing to play quarterback for a team there.
- Teams from South Florida dominated the Badger Sports event, with three going undefeated in round-robin play. Elite travel team South Florida Express went a perfect 4-0 and had an unbelievable collection of talent at wide receiver, led by LSU commit Avery Johnson and Herb Waters. The South Florida Blur were led by several good performances from wide out Jamie Wilson.
- Florida commit Matt Jones did not play with an undisclosed injury.
- Orlando (Fla.) defensive back Ty Law said he recently picked up offers from N.C. State and West Virginia.