Connect with us

College Football

Kiael Kelly’s Ball State commitment continues Group of Five local pipeline

Published

on

Kiael Kelly had offers from Illinois, Indiana and Syracuse, among others. Yet when the Gaither quarterback announced his commitment this past weekend, he spurned those Power Five schools and picked Ball State.

The Cardinals are rarely in the selection process among the bay area’s top recruits. After all, Kelly is the first local prospect to commit to the program in six years. 

Still, the choice should not be that surprising. 

Ball State is just the latest school from the Group of Five Conferences that has stood toe-to-toe with some major programs for top level talent by taking advantage of the current recruiting environment in college football. 

Last month, the NCAA extended the dead period to Aug. 31 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

That means college coaches cannot have physical interactions with any recruit. Campus visits, junior days, invitations to spring practice — all staples of the latest evaluation period — have been eliminated. 

Typically, big-time programs would blanket the state — and the country —to check out prospects during this time. Once a visit was scheduled, teams could show off their state-of-the-art weight rooms and athletic centers. 

That all changed this summer.

“We are all on the same playing field now,” former Bloomingdale coach Max Warner, now the quarterbacks coach at Bowling Green, said in April. “In the facilities arms race we can’t compete. We don’t have the recruiting staffs, or the media and graphic staffs as the Power Fives do but being in this situation we can try to out work them with a personal touch.”

That work is showing. 

Florida Atlantic already has three local commits in the Class of 2021: Tampa Catholic offensive linemen Jaden and Jordan Sandlin and Bloomingdale defensive back Jayden Williams. 

Buffalo landed a pair of bay area receivers, Lakewood’s Artez Hooker and Tampa Bay Tech’s Jamari Gassett, both of whom had offers from Power Five schools.

“I think the dead period has really given kids and parents a chance to really research schools and development relationships,” said Buffalo receivers coach Rob Ianello, who also serves as the program’s recruiting coordinator. “If they do it right they know more about you then they might normally. Both sides have a chance to do it right.”

Kelly, considered a three-star prospect by most recruiting outlets, started getting the attention of colleges after helping Jesuit reach the state semifinals each of the last two seasons. The offers kept coming after he transferred to Gaither in the offseason. 

His decision came down to a few simple factors. 

“(Ball State) believed in me and I have the opportunity to play early,” Kelly said.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

College Football

Lakewood’s Amari Niblack commits to Alabama

Published

on

Lakewood’s Amari Niblack had offers from 15 schools entering this week, including Florida, Florida State, Georgia and LSU. 

Then Niblack went to a camp at Alabama and picked up an offer from the Crimson Tide. 

That was all the three-star prospect needed to make up his mind. 

On Thursday, Niblack announced on social media that he committed to Alabama. 

A 6-foot-4 pass catching target, Niblack can play receiver or tight end. This past season, he had seven receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns according to the stats listed on MaxPreps. 

This is the second straight season Alabama has landed an area receiver and the third time in the past five seasons the Crimson Tide has picked a local skill player.

Agiye Hall, who starred at Armwood and Bloomingdale, was part of the 2021 class. He was an early enrollee and has already made an impact with several highlight-worthy catches in the spring game. 

Continue Reading

College Football

Football: Local list of 2022 commits

Published

on

The Tampa Bay area always produces a tremendous amount of football talent. This year is no different. Several seniors have already pledged their allegiance to colleges. Here is the list, which is expected to grow considerably in the next few months. 

Armwood

WR Kye Stokes

College: Ohio State

Berkeley Prep

LB TJ Bullard

College: UCF

TE CJ Hawkins

College: Florida

Related: Berkeley Prep’s CJ Hawkins commits to Florida

Calvary Christian

OL Preston Cushman

College: Mississippi

Carrollwood Day

DL Brandon Cleveland

College: North Carolina State

Clearwater Academy

CB Rhyland Kelly

College: Minnesota

Clearwater Central Catholic

LB Melvin Jordan 

College: Oregon State

Gaither

DL Mario Eugenio

College: Michigan

Hillsborough

RB Jordaan Bailey

College: Pittsburgh

DB Adrian Ramsey

College: Howard

LB Joseph Sipp Jr.

College: Colorado State

Jesuit

WR Jaydn Girard

College: Wake Forest

ATH Junior Vandeross

College: Toledo

Related: Jesuit’s Junior Vandeross commits to Toledo

King

OT Tony Livingston

College: Florida

Related: Tony Livingston transfers to King

Lakewood

TE Amari Niblack

College: Alabama

Pinellas Park

PK Robert Gunn III

College: Clemson

Related: Pinellas Park’s Robert Gunn III commits to Clemson

Sickles

WR Javohn Thomas

College: USF

Tampa Catholic

OL Chris Williams

College: Florida A&M

Wharton

LB Daveon Crouch

College: Boston College

Wiregrass Ranch

QB Rocco Becht

College: Iowa State

Related: Wiregrass Ranch’s Rocco Becht commits to Iowa State

Continue Reading

College Football

Pinellas Park’s Robert Gunn III commits to Clemson

Published

on

Kickers typically are not offered scholarships while they are in high school. Most at the Division I-A level arrive as walk-ons with the chance to earn a scholarship based on their performance. 

Robert Gunn III is not your typical kicker. 

The Pinellas Park senior is ranked as the nation’s best at the position in the Class of 2022 according to Kicking World. That lofty status got the attention of college coaches.

Gunn III already has offers from six colleges, including Clemson and Texas.

The offer from the Tigers came on June 13 during an unofficial visit. Two days later, Gunn III ended the recruiting process by committing to Clemson. 

“I wanted to go to Clemson because of the people and how they care about the school so much,” Gunn III said. 

The Tigers have been successful landing area special teams stars. Former Jesuit and IMG standout Aidan Swanson will be a redshirt sophomore punter for Clemson this season. 

Now the Tigers will have an area kicker, too. 

This past season, Gunn III hit both of his field goal attempts and had 16 of his 19 kickoffs go for touchbacks. He also averaged 44 yards per punt.  

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © Prime Time Preps