Two highly coveted football prospects at Seffner Christian, both African-American, said racial tensions had at least some influence on their decision to leave.
Michael Trigg and Brandon Cleveland have enrolled at Carrollwood Day, which already had several other high-profile transfers arrive this offseason.
Trigg, considered one of the top three tight ends in the country by several recruiting publications, said his decision was based partly on social media comments made after the protests that took place in Tampa this week.
“I was already planning to leave,” Trigg said. “That was just the icing on the cake.”
Roger Duncan, the head of school at Seffner Christian, said the social media comments and posts Trigg was referring to were made in 2015 by a former student.
The student who made the derogatory posts was disciplined, and the school took other corrective actions, Duncan said
“We took those remarks very seriously when they were made,” Duncan said. “They were horrific and racially insensitive and did not reflect the Christian values we have at this school in any way.”
The posts from five years ago resurfaced during a social media spat this week between former students over the current protests, Duncan said.
“There are a lot of people hurting in the current climate that we have,” Duncan said.
According to Duncan, Trigg’s father requested transcripts on Monday, two days prior to the old social media posts that popped up again.
“I spoke to the family and they said there was no ill-will at all when they left,” Duncan said.
For Cleveland, it was not just those old social media remarks that led to his departure. He said there were other inflammatory comments from students aimed at him and others.
“This is a big deal,” Cleveland said. “The world needs to know. We’re taking a stand and leaving because they use us for sports and don’t care about us at all.”
Duncan said Cleveland informed the school’s admission office on May 18 that he was going to be homeschooled.
Another prominent prospect at Seffner Christian, Tony Livingston, likely will be leaving after requesting his transcripts earlier this week.
The addition of Cleveland and Trigg now gives Carrollwood Day four major Division I-A football recruits that have come via transfer. Most of the arrivals have been in the trenches.
Cleveland (6-foot-3, 260 pounds) is a senior defensive tackle. He joins former Seffner Christian teammate Clay Wedin (6-6, 275), a junior offensive lineman who enrolled at Carrollwood Day months ago. Desmond Mamudi (6-3, 290), a senior defensive lineman, came from Steinbrenner.
Wedin has offers from schools such as Florida, FSU, LSU, Michigan and Penn State. Cleveland has offers from Auburn, FSU, Georgia Tech and Miami, among others. Mamudi committed to USF last month.
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Trigg has 48 offers, including ones from top programs such as Alabama, Florida, FSU, Georgia and Ohio State. Last season, Trigg was dominant. He finished 82 catches for 1,232 yards and 16 touchdowns in leading Seffner Christian to the Class 2A state semifinals.
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He also is one of the top basketball players in the state. Two years ago, Trigg helped the Crusaders reach the state final for the first time.