This football signing cycle has been unlike any other. A dead period that has lasted for more than eight months. No live evaluations from coaches. No personal visits to check out campuses. Just about everything was done in a virtual setting because of the coronavirus pandemic. Which all leads to today, the start of the early signing period. Most of the ceremonies will not have as much fanfare as year’s past, due largely to social distancing requirements. But for the players, after months of Zoom meetings and virtual tours, will finally get some relief knowing where they will go to college. Better still, they will soon get to see their new campus — in person as a member of the team.
Check here for updates throughout the day.
A local flip
USF lost one of its commitments when Carrollwood Day’s Desmond Mamudi, a three-star recruit, decided to attend Virginia Tech. Mamaudi had pledged his allegiance to the Bulls this summer and stuck with that commitment throughout most of the season. The Hokies became the first Power 5 school to offer in mid-November.
Two locals stay loyal to Illinois
East Lake’s Dylan Rosiek and Tampa Catholic’s DD Snyder both committed to Illinois this summer, in part because of their connection with head coach Lovie Smith.
Their devotion to the program was tested this week when Smith was relieved as coach. Still, it did not take long for the two to decide to stick with the Illini.
Rosiek made it official Wednesday morning.
Snyder, ranked among the nation’s top safeties, was not too far behind, making it official by late morning.
Nation’s top receiver is officially a Sooner
Plant City’s Mario Williams, the nation’s top-rated receiver according to ESPN, has officially signed with Oklahoma. Williams committed to the Sooners this summer. The two-sport star also plans to play baseball in college.
Florida’s class features plenty of area stars
Four local standouts — Armwood defensive lineman Desmond Watson, Armwood athlete Charles Montgomery, Jefferson tight end Gage Wilcox and Gaither defensive back Jordan Young — all made their commitments to Florida this summer and are expected to sign today.
Watson and Wilcox have already made it official.
Andrew Kilfoyl is the first local in USF’s class
Despite losing Carrollwood Day’s Desmond Mamudi, USF is expected to have plenty of area players in its early class. Gaither lineman Andrew Kilfoyl became the first, signing with the Bulls this morning. Kilfoyl’s older sister is former Academy at the Lakes softball star Lexi Kilfoyl, now at Alabama.
USF was not finished. Joining Kilfoyl as part of a strong contingent of locals was Clearwater receiver Cardrece Mobley and Clearwater Academy receiver Nickolas Tshivuadi. Both committed to the Bulls this summer and made it official on Wednesday.
Berkeley Prep’s RJ Garcia signs with Kansas State
RJ Garcia, a dynamic receiver for Berkeley Prep the past two seasons, made his college plans official by signing with Kansas State. He is the second Buccaneers player to join the Wildcats in the past two seasons. The other, Joshua Youngblood, had a stellar college debut as a kick returner last season before entering the transfer portal. Youngblood signed with Rutgers this morning.
Berkeley Prep ties pay off for Rutgers’ Greg Schiano
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano has plenty of connections to Berkeley Prep. After all, his son played at the private school . And Schiano spent two years volunteering with the football program following his departure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Those ties have paid off in recruiting. Two years ago, Schiano, then an assistant head coach at Ohio State, was instrumental in getting five-star Berkeley Prep offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere to commit to the Buckeyes. When Schiano began his second stint taking over the Scarlet Knights this offseason, he landed another former Berkeley Prep standout in Mayan Ahanotu, who transferred from Minnesota.
Now, add Austin Dean and Joshua Youngblood to the list.
Dean, a linebacker/defensive lineman who helped the Buccaneers reach the Class 3A state semifinals, made it official by signing with Rutgers. He picked the Scarlet Knights over offers from Florida Atlantic, Harvard and Yale.
Youngblood, who transferred from Kansas State, led the nation with three kickoff returns for touchdowns as a freshman last season and was named an All-American by several publications. He signed Wednesday morning, too.
Rutgers’ early class is expected to add another local, Tampa Bay Tech defensive lineman Henry Hughes. But there were some misses. The Scarlet Knights lost out on Clearwater Academy offensive lineman Albert Reese, who committed to Rutgers this summer before signing with Mississippi State.
Isaiah Bolden becomes first local recruit for Deion Sanders at Jackson State
Former FSU star and NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders is filling out his first signing class at Jackson State by leaning heavily on transfers.
On Tuesday, Sanders’ son, Shilo, announced would be leaving South Carolina to play for his father.
Sanders added another prized prospect with former Wesley Chapel standout Isaiah Bolden signing with Jackson State on Wednesday. Bolden spent the past three years at FSU before entering the transfer portal in September. He announced his commitment to Jackson State in November.