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Gaither’s Jordan Young commits to Florida

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Gaither cornerback Jordan Young committed to Florida during a live Instagram broadcast on Sunday.

The three-star recruit, is ranked among the top 30 cornerbacks in the nation according to 247 Sports’ composite list. He picked the Gators over offers from 25 other schools, including Alabama, FSU, Georgia, Miami and Mississippi.

Young is the third area player in the Class of 2021 to choose Florida, joining Armwood’s Charles Montgomery and Jefferson’s Gage Wilcox. The three locals are the most the Gators have had in a recruiting class since 2017.

Last year, Young started at Jesuit. He transferred to Gaither this offseason.

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College Football

Football: Hidden gems — Dec. 1

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Football recruiting is heating up. Still, many area players are looking for place to play at the next level. Here are 10 standouts who have little to no offers that college coaches should consider. All have qualifying grade-point averages and test scores, too.

Class of 2022

RB Travis Bates, Berkeley Prep

The durable back has rushed for 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns so far this season, including 193 and two scores against Clearwater Central Catholic in last week’s Class 3A region final.

https://www.hudl.com/profile/9929732/Travis-Bates

LB Daemian Clute, Alonso

Led the Ravens in tackles with 94 and tied for the team leads in sacks with 4.5 while helping the program finish 6-4 this season.

https://www.hudl.com/profile/11283935/Daemian-Clute

DL Tyler Geary, Mitchell

Finished the season with 60 tackles and set the single season school for sacks with 13 in helping lead the Mustangs to another district title.

https://www.hudl.com/profile/12761110/Tyler-Geary

RB Dontrevious Jackson, Zephyrhills Christian

The sturdy back rushed for 1,803 yards and 18 touchdowns while leading the Warriors to their first-ever region final appearance.

https://www.hudl.com/profile/11235493/Dontrevius-Jackson

OL Christian Loaiza, Wiregrass Ranch

A first-team all-conference and all-star selection who provided protection for quarterback Rocco Becht, an Iowa State commit.

https://www.hudl.com/profile/11127907/Cristian-Loaiza

QB Bryson Martin, Clearwater Central Catholic

One of the area’s most efficient quarterbacks, Martin threw for 1,632 yards, 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions in helping the Marauders reach the Class 3A region final.

https://www.hudl.com/profile/7724291/Bryson-Martin

WR Ha’Keem Monroe, Lennard

A dynamic playmaker who ended up with 28 catches for 627 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Longhorns this season.

https://www.hudl.com/profile/14656269/HaKeem-Monroe

QB Caleb Pierce, Hillsborough

Threw for 807 yards and five touchdowns in the first five games of the season for the Class 6A region finalist Terriers. 

https://www.hudl.com/profile/12641859/Caleb-Pierce

LB Garrick Ponder, Pinellas Park

He became a force on defense for the Patriots, finishing with 116 tackles, seven sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions. 

https://www.hudl.com/profile/12849552/Garrick-Ponder

OL Aaron Sanez, Clearwater

Paved the way for a 1,000-yard rusher and provided protection for a record-setting quarterback for the Class 6A region finalist Tornadoes.

https://www.hudl.com/profile/11358699/Aaron-Sanez

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College Football

College football: Athlete update

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The top performances from former area stars in week five of the college football season. 

DB Dane Belton, Jr., Iowa: The former Jesuit standout had one of the Hawkeyes’ six interceptions in a win over Maryland.

QB Devin Black, Sr., Bethune Cookman: The former Armwood standout accounted for 258 yards (131 rushing, 127 passing) and two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) in a loss to South Carolina State.  

DL Zachary Carter, Sr., Florida: The former Hillsborough standout recorded three tackles and a sack in a loss to Kentucky.  

QB Austin Day, Sr., Marist: The former Clearwater standout threw for 149 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Valparaiso. 

RB Jerome Ford, Jr., Cincinnati: The former Armwood star ran for 67 yards on 17 carries in a win over Notre Dame. 

RB Dominic Gonella, So., North Dakota State: The former Bloomingdale standout ran for 37 yards on seven carries in a win over North Dakota. 

WR Travell Harris, Sr., Washington State: The former Jesuit standout had seven catches for 46 yards in a win over California. 

DB Kym-Mani King, Jr., Iowa State: The former Mitchell standout recorded three tackles and picked off a pass in a win over Kansas. 

RB Keyvone Lee, So., Penn State: The former American Collegiate standout ran for 74 yards on eight carries in a win over Indiana. 

DB T.J. Limehouse, Jr., West Florida: The former Armwood standout recorded a team-high 16 tackles in a win over Delta State. 

LB Micah McFadden, Sr., Indiana: The former Plant star recorded eight tackles in a loss to Penn State. 

QB Braxton Plunk, Jr., Mount Union: The former Plant City standout threw for 313 yards and five touchdowns in a win over Otterbein. 

QB Tyler Riddell, Fr., East Tennessee State: The former Chamberlain standout threw for 268 yards and a touchdown in a win over Wofford. 

WR Mike Roussos, Sr., Columbia: The former River Ridge standout averaged 19 yards per kickoff return and 15 yards per punt return in a loss to Princeton. 

RB Deon Silas, Fr., Iowa State: Ran for 30 yards and a touchdown on three carries in a win over Kansas. 

RB Brian Snead, Jr., Austin Peay: The former Armwood standout ran for 73 yards and a touchdown on seven carries in a loss to Tennessee State. 

TE Michael Trigg, Fr., USC: The former Carrollwood Day/Seffner Christian standout had two catches for 51 yards and a touchdown in a win over Colorado. 

RB Treshaun Ward, Fr., FSU: The former Tampa Bay Tech standout accounted for 95 yards (66 rushing, 29 receiving) in a win over Syracuse. 

LB Kee Whetzel, Sr., West Florida: The former Countryside standout recorded 10 tackles and a ½ sack in a win over Delta State. 

WR Mario Williams, Fr., Oklahoma: The former Plant City star had three catches for 29 yards in a win over Kansas State. 

LB Stephon Williams, Jr., West Florida: The former Calvary Christian standout recorded five tackles and 1 ½ sacks in a win over Delta State. 

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College Football

Iowa State now a hotspot for local football recruits

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Since arriving at Iowa State five years ago, Matt Campbell has guided the program to four straight bowl appearances, including a Fiesta Bowl win this past season that vaulted the Cyclones to No. 9 in the final AP poll, the highest ranking in school history. 

That success is due in part to the talent accumulated in Florida, especially the Tampa Bay area. 

There are currently five local players on the roster, all of whom were recruited by Campbell’s staff. Anthony Johnson, a former standout at St. Petersburg, starts at cornerback. Two other defensive backs, T.J. Tampa (Lakewood) and Kym-Mani King (Mitchell), should get significant playing time this season. 

It does not end there. 

This offseason Iowa State had perhaps its biggest haul of local talent with three offensive stars — Wiregrass Ranch quarterback Rocco Becht, Tampa Bay Tech receiver Greg Gaines III and Berkeley Prep athlete Xavier Townsend — all committing to the Cyclones as part of the 2022 class.  

Gaines is a four-star recruit while Becht and Townsend are both three-star prospects according to 247Sports. The addition of that trio helped the Cyclones’ current recruiting class rise to No. 5 in the Big 12 and No. 23 nationally. 

The recruiting efforts are not just limited to the staff. Becht, who committed in April, said he tried his best to get more offensive talent from the area to join him. 

“I talked to Greg and Xavier everyday,” Becht said of his recruiting pitch to that duo. “I was on them from the beginning.”

Rocco Becht

Iowa State’s staff also zeroed on those targets — and the area.

“The Tampa Bay area is a huge priority,” said Cyclones assistant head coach/linebackers coach Tyson Veidt, who recruits locally. “Some of our best players are from there and it has helped us develop some all-around continuity.”

Iowa State has a knack for landing playmakers in the bay area, particularly on the defensive side. It started more than a decade ago with linebacker Jeremiah George (Clearwater) and defensive back Leonard Johnson (Largo), both of whom played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their NFL careers. 

There has been even more of an emphasis on the area with Campbell and his staff.

That comes from experience. 

Before taking over the Cyclones, Campbell was an offensive coordinator (2009-11) and head coach (2012-15) at Toledo. During his time with the Rockets, the program landed several prospects from the area, including former Lakewood star Bernard Reedy, who went on to play in the NFL. 

In fact, Campbell had at least one local commit in each of his recruiting classes as Toledo’s head coach. That helped the Rockets rank among the top two recruiting classes in the MAC in three of the four years during Campbell’s tenure. 

The trend has continued at Iowa State. 

And it is having an impact, especially with the camaraderie among locals. 

“Well, of course, the decision was for me and my future as a student athlete,” said Townsend, who committed to the Cyclones on Sunday. “But it was icing on the cake knowing a couple of my boys are coming up with me.”

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