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The list of East Lake NFL draft picks could grow

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Mason Cole

Wake Forest linebacker Justin Strnad, a former star at East Lake, is projected to go anywhere in rounds 4-7 of the NFL draft. If Strnad is selected, he will become the third Eagles player picked in the past five years. Here are the others. 

Mason Cole
Arizona’s Mason Cole/Photo credit: Arizona Cardinals

OL Mason Cole, Arizona Cardinals

College: Michigan

Pick: Third round (97th overall) in 2018 draft

An Army All-American selection, Cole graduated early and quickly became a fixture for Michigan in the trenches. In 2014, he became the first true freshman offensive lineman to ever start a season opener for the Wolverines. Cole showed his versatility throughout his college career, playing just about every position on the line. He was a second-team all-Big Ten selection in each of his final two seasons at Michigan. By going in the third round, Cole became the highest-selection ever from East Lake. In 2018, he started all 16 games at center for the Cardinals. Cole was used mostly as a backup interior lineman this past season, starting two games at left guard. 

Tyler Higbee
Rams’ Tyler Higbee/Photo credit: Los Angeles Rams

TE Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

College: Western Kentucky

Pick: Fourth round (110th overall) in 2016 draft

The two-sport athlete was East Lake’s MVP in football in 2010. Still, he was overlooked by most recruiting experts and ended up at Western Kentucky, where the two-star prospect showed off his pass-catching ability. Higbee’s breakout season came as a senior in 2015 when he had 38 catches for 563 yards and eight touchdowns. He became East Lake’s first-ever draft pick when the Rams took him in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. He has already played in a Super Bowl and signed a four-year, $31-million contract extension last offseason. His best season came in 2019 when he ser career highs for receptions (69), yards (734) and touchdowns (3).

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College Football

Wiregrass Ranch’s Rocco Becht commits to Iowa State

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Wiregrass Ranch quarterback Rocco Becht has committed to Iowa State.

The rising senior made the announcement on his Twitter page Friday afternoon. 

Becht, the son of former Jets and Buccaneers tight end Anthony Becht, is listed as a three-star prospect  by 247 Sports and had offers from 13 colleges. He is just the second recruit for the Cyclones in the 2022 class and the lone one from the area. 

Iowa State has done well landing locals. In fact, this marks the fifth straight recruiting class the Cyclones have secured at least commitment from an area player. 

Becht took over as Wiregrass Ranch’s starting quarterback in 2019. As a junior last season, he threw for 1,550 yards and 18 touchdowns and was named the offensive player of the year for the East Division of the Sunshine Athletic Conference.  

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College Football

Berkeley Prep’s CJ Hawkins commits to Florida

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Berkeley Prep’s CJ Hawkins committed to Florida, becoming the second area recruit to join the Gators’ 2022 class in the past week. 

Hawkins publicly announced his decision on his Twitter page Sunday afternoon. His pledge to Florida comes three days after Carrollwood Day offensive lineman Tony Livingston committed to the Gators. 

Both are unique prospects. Hawkins, a 6-foot-7, 220 pound tight end, went out for football this season after concentrating on basketball his first two years at Berkeley Prep. In fact, he offers in basketball from IUPI, USF and Western Michigan.

His size and athleticism made football programs take notice. This offseason, Hawkins enjoyed a meteoric rise and held 29 offers from Division I-A schools. 

Livingston also played basketball and plans to play both sports at Florida. It is unclear whether Hawkins would do the same. 

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College Football

Sickles’ Javohn Thomas commits to USF

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Sickles receiver Javohn Thomas has committed to USF, becoming the first recruit in the Bulls’ 2022 class. 

“I love coach (Jeff) Scott, and it feels like a great place for me,” said Thomas, who picked USF over offers from Florida International and South Dakota. 

As a junior, Thomas had 37 receptions for 540 yards and four touchdowns. 

The two-sport star also played basketball and was the Gryphons’ leading scorer this past season. Thomas said he talked to USF basketball coach Brian Gregory about joining the team and wants to play both sports in college. 

If Thomas does, he will continue what has become an area trend. 

Carrollwood Day’s Mike Trigg, one of the nation’s top tight ends, plans on playing football and basketball at Southern California as a freshman this coming season. Trigg’s teammate with the Patriots, Tony Livingston, announced his commitment to Florida on Thursday. The rising senior intends on playing football and basketball with the Gators. 

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