Tag:Western Kentucky
Posted on: June 21, 2011 11:22 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 11:27 pm
 

Heath Evans 7-on-7 Notebook

Posted by Bryan Fischer

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Plenty of top players from high school teams all over the state of Florida were in action this past weekend at the 6<sup>th</sup> Annual Heath Evans Foundation 7-on-7 Tournament. Featuring two teams from MaxPreps' Preseason Top 25 for 2011 and several members from Tom Lemming's Top 100 for 2012, the fields at the King's Academy were filled with fast paced action and plenty of scoring.

One of the standouts was Tampa (Fla.) wide receiver Austin Aikens, who helped propel his team to the title and was one of the top players at the event.

"It felt real good,” Aikens said on Saturday. “I was out there making plays my team needed during the clutch."

While Plant High ended up taking the taking the title for the first time, it was just as satisfying toppling last year's state champion St. Thomas Aquinas, which beat Plant for the championship last fall. Aikens knows, however, that beating Aquinas in the summer is a different matter from beating them in the fall and he's trying to step his game up as a result.

"I'm looking to gain some more weight and polish off my route running and catching skills that I've got as a receiver so I can help my team,” he said. “We're pretty much getting there, we're starting to gel together and become one team and know what each other is thinking. Players are starting to step up when we need them to step up."

Events like Heath Evans are designed not only to give players an outlet to compete but also to showcase their skills. With the spring evaluation period over and the summer camp schedule picking up, Aikens already holds several scholarship offers and is starting to see plenty of attention from college coaches.

"It's going good,” he said. “I have offers from Missouri, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Western Kentucky, Temple, Boston College. So it's going pretty well for me. I'm still wide open."

While the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder is still sorting out his offer list, he maintains he'll likely make a decision after the football season is over. He recently took an unofficial visit to several schools in North Carolina and could be leaning towards heading out of state for college.

"About four weeks ago I went up and visited Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State and Wake Forest,” Aikens said. “It was good, I really liked North Carolina's campus and facilities. North Carolina has some interest in me too."

Bauta shines in race to become starter

Palm Beach (Fla.) athlete Faton Bauta is trying to shed the label of “athlete” and get people used to calling him a quarterback. The dual-threat signal caller certainly impressed on the field during the tournament, showing off a strong arm and hitting some tight windows on some of his throws. The transfer from New York is not assured of the starting job just yet so the extra time with his teammates leading up to the season was crucial to developing some chemistry before the pads come on in August.

"It's going very well just being out here with them and competing with them,” Bauta said. “I like the way these guys play and I enjoy throwing the ball to them.

"I usually throw with them a lot on weekends or whenever we get the chance during the week. But out here, it's definitely good to work on the timing, there's more real game situations because you have
defenders."

Dwyer High, ranked 17<sup>th</sup> in the country by MaxPreps, is breaking in several new players into the mix and face the added challenge of moving into a new classification this season. Bauta knows the team needs to gel in the offseason if they want to go from good to great during the regular season.

"We look great but obviously we have a lot to work on,” he said. “We're working towards perfection and we still have a lot of work to do but hopefully we'll be a great team this season. Hopefully we'll win that state championship."

Bauta already holds offers from Alabama, Louisville, Miami and West Virginia among others and a few recent unofficial visits netted him some more.

"Georgia and UCF, that's about it,” he said. “(Georgia) was huge, I went on a pretty big SEC tour and went there and threw for them. They like be a lot and they offered me, I sat down with coach (Mark) Richt and he's a great guy. All of the coaches were great. They're a great school and have top of the line everything. It was great to go out there and see what they're all about."

While several schools continue to recruit Bauta as an athlete, he's a quarterback at heart and that's what he wants to play at the next level.

“That's why I went on the tour, just to show these guys I can throw the ball,” he said. “Hopefully I can show the guys out here that I can throw the ball."

Bauta participated at the Florida State camp on Sunday after wrapping up things in Palm Beach at the Heath Evans tournament. While he doesn't have an offer from the Seminoles at the moment, it's possible they could break into his recruiting with one. Right now however, he's starting to narrow down his list based on a few of his big offers.

"I have a top seven and if you looked at the offers I have, you'd be able to figure it out,” Bauta said. “I'm really just keeping my options open right now in case something pops up with a school. I'm just seeing who likes me and who has the best chance of winning and having the most success during the four years I'm there. I want to get the best connection to the coaches and the players."

Howard makes plays on both sides of the ball

Cornerback Tracey Howard of Miramar (Fla.) knows he doesn't have much left to prove after a stellar junior year and a very good offseason on the all-star travel team South Florida Express. But there he was out in the heat, running routes on offense and playing receivers tight on defense.

"I think it's good because I'm out here with my team rather than as an individual,” Howard said. “I'm on my team getting better, developing chemistry on my team is a good feeling."

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound corner is working on getting stronger in the offseason and wants to improve his tackling before the season begins. At the same time he's looking to get better as an individual, Howard constantly has to fight off college recruiters looking to land his services.

"It's picking up,” he said. “It's getting kind of crazy right now but I try to stay humble about it and stay focused about it. I get help from my coaches and my family.

"I'm just staying open with the process. I won't say I have a long time to think about it like a year but I'm just trying to stay open.”

Howard plans on visiting Miami and Florida State soon and has already visited the other in-state power, Florida, for a spring practice. He plans on committing during the middle of the season or on Signing Day, depending on how his visits work out and if he's comfortable with a certain school. In the mean time, he's just doing what's asked of him to help his team win.

"It was good to play some receiver and make plays for my team,” Howard said. “I don't really play offense but I'm out here with my team having fun."

Notes

- One of the underclassmen who had an intriguing blend of size and speed was Tampa (Fla.) linebacker Paris Bostick of Plant High. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder looks like a big safety but he could continue to grow into an outside linebacker. Schools are already interested with him playing safety and while he doesn't have any offers yet, is looking to have a big season after concentrating on getting better this offseason.

"Just get faster and bigger,” Bostick said. “I'm in the weight room a lot with the team but I like to work harder than everybody else. I see people trying to up their game so I'm going to try and up my game more than them and keep my head on and not get into any trouble."

- Virginia Tech commit Donaldven Manning was sporting his future college's logos on some eye black.

- Booker T. Washington was a team full of underclassmen who impressed. They made it to the championship game against Plant but fell just short. Former Miami director of football operations “IceHarris is the head coach at the school now.

Posted on: May 3, 2011 3:22 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 3:39 pm
 

Alabama Badger Sports 7-on-7 Notebook

Posted by Bryan Fischer

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- If one championship was lucky, a second confirms what the South Florida-based Footballers Fire 7-on-7 team thought all along, that they were one of the most talented teams in the country.

Composed mostly of players who were cut from the elite South Florida Express travel team, the Footballers Fire ended up beating them for a title in Tampa and ran through the competition over the weekend to grab their second title on the campus of Samford University.

The group ended up taking three vans from Miami to Birmingham, a trip that lasted over 13 hours. The long drive was the furthest thing from their mind when they held up the championship trophy though.

"Everybody was excited about getting out of Florida and coming to Alabama," Pompano Beach (Fla.) cornerback Adrian Burton said. "The difference between Tampa and here is we came up here undefeated. We didn't lose one game in this tournament and we won outside of our elements. We wanted to prove we were college-ready and came to play outside of our elements by playing in another state."

The team was the most vocal of any of the 15 teams that came to the event from all over the South. Part of the hooting and hollering after every play was strategy, especially once they reached the championship game and kept quiet in order to throw the other team off.

"The competition was really good," Gainesville (Fla.) corner Chris Bivins said. "We talked a bunch throughout the day but we decided to calm it down for the championship game and make them think we weren't playing. We were quiet and things started clicking."

Bivins is not full-time member of Footballers Fire but decided to come along on the trip and play with several of his friends on the team. He deferred to other members of the team in terms of playing time but still managed to make an impact in the secondary, playing both slot and outside receivers.

Burton, on the other hand, was in for nearly every play on defense and picked off two passes during the tournament, one more than he had in Tampa. Grabbing an extra pick wasn't as meaningful for the talented corner as grabbing a second title however.

"It meant a lot to me personally," Burton said. "We heard on ESPN that there was no way we can repeat, it was a fluke. Honestly we don't take that too lightly. We went from the cut list (from the South Florida Express) to winning two 7-on-7 championships. What more can we say?"

Texas Tech is one school showing a lot of interest in Burton but has yet to offer him a scholarship. Defensive backs coach Otis Mounds is the coach recruiting him and Burton had good things to say about the former South Florida high school coach.

"He has to be one of the coolest guys I've met who is a recruiter," Burton said. "He talks about real stuff, real situations, he doesn't actually talk that much about football. In his words, there's only two things they want us to come to Texas Tech for, to play ball and get your education. Education and football, I'm glad he pointed that out and it's not just football."

Bivins is also seeing his recruitment pick up with the May Evaluation period in full swing and already holds five offers, including ones from Utah and USF. He picked up his first SEC offer from South Carolina on Thursday and is excited about what the Gamecocks bring to the table.

"They've been contacting me lately. Coach (Steve) Spurrier Jr. came to school but I wasn't there because I had a track meet," Bivins said. "I called him on the phone and he said they were going to offer me a scholarship because they love big corners with long arms and speed."

Both players will head to the Badger Sports National 7-on-7 Tournament in Dallas over Fourth of July weekend.

Ward drops into coverage

Aberdeen (Miss.) defensive end Channing Ward didn't show up for Day One of the tournament and many thought he had taken an unofficial visit or just stayed home for the weekend. Turns out he had a good excuse as he was anchoring Aberdeen High's 4x100 and 4x200 track team and ended up running a 11.3 second 100 meters at a hefty 6-foot-2, 250 pounds.

The big and fast defensive end ended up playing linebacker for much of Day Two of the tournament and did so mainly to get better with his footwork and show off a little bit more to observers.

"It was a good challenge," Ward said. "I had to keep my feet moving. I think it will make me a better defensive end because I have to keep my feet moving. I felt ok."

Ward recently picked up another offer to add to his growing list that is sitting at 16 and includes Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss and Notre Dame among others.

"I picked up an offer from Miami last Friday," Ward said. "I have interest in them."

There are also several schools close to extending a scholarship and Ward offered up one school who might be the next to pull the trigger.

"Florida State. The've been writing me a lot and told me to come to their camp," Ward said. "I'm going this summer. I'll also probably go to LSU and Auburn (camps). I've been to both of them to watch a game and on Junior Day."

Alabama and Mississippi State are the two schools recruiting him the hardest with Crimson Tide assistant Jeff Stoutland being his primary recruiter and one of the few who are recruiting him as a hybrid defensive end/linebacker. He still hasn't narrowed down his list of schools but looking for a few things in his future school.

"Graduation rate, good vibe from the coaches," he said.

Ward has offers from just about every SEC schools and projects more as a defensive end than linebacker in college.

Dural doesn't live up to his own high standards

One of the few commitments participating in the tournament was Beaux Bridge (La.) wide receiver Travin Dural. The LSU commitment didn't get too many balls thrown his way and had trouble meshing with his teammates he met just two days before on their way from Louisiana.

"I didn't feel like I played my best, I kind of had an off weekend," Dural said. "I did alright in some games but just didn't really get it going."

Although he didn't live up to his own high standards, Dural did compete against some of the best defensive talent he's seen and he felt he measured up well despite having an off weekend.

"I wanted to play with the best and see how I do," he said. "They say these are some of the best players in the country so I wanted to see how good I really am. I kind of showed that I can compete with them."

Firmly committed to LSU, his commitment was pretty open and shut as soon as the Tigers became interested in the in-state prospect.

"When I got the offer," he said of when he committed. "That was the school I wanted to go to ever since I was little. That helped because I wanted to go there and didn't have to worry about committing when I wanted to go there."

The 6-foot-2, 170 pound Dural is still receiving mail from several programs but isn't being actively recruited by anybody. Many schools will stop by to see him when spring football starts in two weeks but putting on the pads isn't something Dural is looking forward to.

"No," he said with a grin. "It's going to be hot out there. I'm in track right now so I'm not even in football shape. I do the 200 and high jump, long jump and 4x200 (relay). I've got the state track meet next weekend at LSU. Last week at regionals, our relay team ran the seventh fastest time in the nation."

Gross looks good at quarterback

There were not a lot of high caliber quarterbacks in Birmingham but Memphis (Tenn.) signal caller Will Gross was one of the top two or three at the event, throwing a good spiral and really showing some velocity on throws. He's already received offers from Louisville, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt and picked up a big one last week after a few schools stopped by during the evaluation period.

"Memphis, Wake Forest, Alabama and UConn," Gross said of the schools that came by Melrose High. "Alabama offered Thursday. I'm blessed. I'm glad the coaches see something in me. They have a good program and get you ready for the NFL. They have a great staff. I'm going to visit next month."

While some schools are recruiting him as an athlete, Alabama is recruiting him as quarterback. The 6-foot-1, 175 pound Gross wants to play quarterback in college and that will be an issue he'll bring up to those schools pursuing him.

"Mississippi State and Arkansas State," he said of schools that are recruiting him the hardest. "It doesn't matter where I go. I'm very patient and want to take my time. I might commit during the season."

Gross has already taken a few unofficial visits and will take some time over the next few weeks to plan where he'll go next. He won't limit his planning to just unofficial visits though, he plans on taking all five of his official visits and is already trying to figure out when and where to go.

"I don't know them all," he said. "I know three, Louisville, Kentucky and Alabama. Those are my top three right now."

Alabama's recent offer appears to make them the co-leader along with Louisville for Gross but he remains open until taking his visits.

Recruitment of Kimbrow heating up

A few miles away from Gross, running back Brian Kimbrow is becoming a hot name for recruiters. The city of Memphis is always a must stop for coaches on their way around the south and Memphis East is becoming the first destination in the city thanks in large part to Kimbrow.

"Duke stopped by, Western Kentucky, Tennessee and some more coaches are supposed to come by next week," Kimbrow said. "Notre Dame has come by. Lots of people."

The 5-foot-9, 170 pound scat-back recently picked up offers from Maryland and Wake Forest to put his total number of offers at close to 30. With so much attention being shown at this point in the recruiting process, Kimbrow is just taking everything as it comes and keeping a level head.

"It's hard to say right now because I'm being patient. I don't want to rush into recruiting and end up going somewhere that doesn't fit me," he said.

So far Kimbrow is taking unofficial visits like most top recruits and is starting out local before heading out to schools outside of the region this summer.

"I've been to Tennessee, Memphis and I have plans to go to Cincinnati and Vanderbilt," he said. "I have plans to go to Notre Dame. I've also been to Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss."

Kimbrow has no set timetable for when he makes his commitment but the talented athlete, who also could be a slot receiver in college, is looking to stay focused on his high school team before worrying about where he'll end up in college.

"More than likely it will be after the season so I can focus on that during the season," he said of a commitment date. "Right now though, I'd say Tennessee and Vanderbilt and Cincinnati are standing out though.

"It doesn't matter where I go, I just want a place that fits me."

Notes

- Talented Lemming Top 100 linebacker Deaysean Rippy didn't play too much this weekend due to nagging injuries but did mention he was hearing a lot from Florida and that the Gators are at the top of his list at the moment. He was planning on taking more unofficial visits over the next few months so that might change.

- Marietta (Ga.) sophomore quarterback Eddie Printz did not have a very good first day, struggling to throw a spiral and get things going for Team Georgia. He came back much sharper on day two however, really spinning the ball well while leading his team to the championship game. He had some serious talent to throw to at wide out and while they saved him on day one, Printz made them look good on day two with some very nice deep balls.

- One of Printz's wide outs was Norcross (Ga.) athlete Jason Croom. He was the top receiver at the event and was a nightmare to cover with his 6-foot-5, 230 pound frame. At this point, he's a bit of a hybrid receiver/tight end until he fills out but he certainly has some very good pass catching skills. Georgia might be close to offering which might change things in his recruitment but it looks like Miami might be the team to beat at the moment. Georgia commit C.J. Curry was also on the team and played well but it was Croom who was the best receiver at the event.

- Justin Combs, son of Sean "Diddy" Combs, picked up offers Middle Tennessee and Wyoming recently and took an unofficial to UAB after the tournament. He has family in Alabama and one of his coaches said he is looking to step out from his dad's shadow but doesn't mind going to a smaller school to play football.

- Memphis (Tenn.) running back Jovon Robinson has a bit of a rivalry with Kimbrow in terms of who will be the top running back in the city and certainly showed he was capable of the top spot in terms of pass catching and quickness. His most recent offer was from Penn State and he said several SEC schools who have already offered stopped by to evaluate him further last week.

- Olive Branch (Miss.) wide receiver De'Arthur Cowan was one player who impressed from the Mississippi team. He said he had five offers, including ones from Arkansas and Mississippi State. Ole Miss visited his school last week and could be the next to offer. Cowan displayed good hands and ran nice routes but he needs to add some weight to his very skinny frame.

- Footballers Fire quarterback Ghierry Van der Kuyp has a very unusual sidearm throwing motion but he managed to be the most accurate quarterback at the event. He is being recruited by several programs as a wide receiver and the Hialeah (Fla.) athlete is close to getting offers from Miami and Florida. A commitment to Miami might follow if they offer because both of his parents are Miami fans. When Footballers Fire went up big on Team Georgia in the championship game, Van deer Kuyp played some wide receiver but badly injured his ankle and had to be taken off the field.

 
 
 
 
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