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Plies praises Mario Williams’ dedication to Plant City

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Mario Williams

Plant City was somewhat depleted heading into the offseason a year ago. On defense, 10 starters graduated. The Raiders also had to replace starting quarterback Braxton Plunk, the Hillsborough County player of the year in 2018. 

That did not matter to Mario Williams. The receiver, already a big-time college prospect, decided to stay. 

Plant City went through some growing pains while playing a brutal early season schedule that included three teams that made the state semifinals. The result: a 5-5 record. 

Still, Williams never considered bolting for another program. The offers continued coming. His recruiting rankings remained among the best at his position. 

Two weeks ago, Williams, the nation’s top-rated receiver in the Class of 2021, committed to Oklahoma. 

RELATED: Plant City’s Mario Williams picks Oklahoma

After the decision, Plies, a rapper from Fort Myers, took to social media to heap praise on Williams. Not for the five-star prospect’s allegiance to the Sooners. Instead, Plies lauded Williams’ loyalty to his high school program.

Plies, whose real name is Algernod Lanier Washington, was a receiver at Miami (Ohio) from 1996-97 before becoming a rapper. He is a big high school football fan and often posts about issues relating to state prospects. The message regarding Williams was simple. Colleges will find you, even on a .500 team. 

“I never met Mario before, but I respect the fact that he stayed down until he came up,” Plies said of Williams in the video.

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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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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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