Most of the focus in college football recruiting right now centers around the Class of 2014, but the current crop of junior prospects is not the only class making recruiting waves.
The Orlando area has a very talented group of 2015 college football prospects, and it goes far beyond star Jacques Patrick at Timber Creek. Patrick, the running-back phenom who is 6-foot-2, 230 pounds at his playing weight, already has 33 scholarship offers from NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools, with Florida and Florida State even at the top of his list.
Patrick was at a 7-on-7 tournament in Tallahassee on Sunday, playing for top-four finisher Space Coast. While he was in town, he visited with FSU coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff.
But Patrick wasn't the only one busy this weekend. Sophomores are starting to get a leg up on the recruiting process.
First Academy sophomore tight end/linebacker Garrett Williams was in the stands at Doak Campbell Stadium for the Seminoles' spring game Saturday. Kissimmee Osceola linebacker Riley Nicholson was in Miami visiting the Hurricanes on Friday and then took part in the Football University Combine in Fort Lauderdale, Lake Nona quarterback Tucker Israel was at the Elite 11 regional camp in Atlanta Friday, Olympia quarterback Deondre Francois was leading the Orlando Top Recruits Now 7-on-7 team to the championship at the Tallahassee IMG state qualifier and Apopka had six sophomores start in the state title game.
Also this past weekend, Maitland Orangewood Christian linebacker Jimmy Martin and Oviedo running back Jurell Green were both busy doing some work at the National Underclassmen Combine at Orlando's Jones High on Sunday.
Martin's offseason work has really started to show on the 6-foot, 205-pounder, who also plays fullback for coach Bill Gierke's Rams. Martin, who played along with Nicholson in the FBU 8th-grade All-American game in San Antonio in 2010, was in top form on Sunday, taking Combine King honors at the NUC event.
His numbers for the combine were impressive. He posted a 40-yard-dash time of 4.71 seconds, a shuttle time of 4.09, broad-jumped 9.4 feet, had a vertical jump of 32.5 inches and put up 155 pounds on the bench press 30 times.
“I guess it's the workouts I've been doing. I've been changing stuff up with bench and squat and agility drills outside with coach Gierke,” Martin said.
Martin has been on varsity at Orangewood since he was a freshman, so he’s realizing his leadership skills a little sooner than most as he enters his junior year.
“With B.J. (Welch) leaving this year and also two years ago, with Patrick Cone and a lot of those guys leaving, puts me in that role to be a leader at Orangewood,” Martin said.
He’s been to so many combine-type events that he no longer approaching them just to see if he’s faster in the 40-yard dash. When it comes to the one-on-one portions of these events, players really need to zero in on their technique and what the camp coaches are suggesting. Martin is now well versed on what he needs to do to get better.
“You can always get faster and stronger,” Martin said. “But I’d say with the one-on-ones, you want to see what technique works best for you and what you lack in. For me I like concentrating on sticking inside-out (on the running back), keeping them to the outside so they can’t cut back on you and jamming them up in the first five yards."
Martin, whose Junior Day trip scheduled to Notre Dame was thwarted by snow in March, has also been to Miami this year, among other schools. His father already has a vast itinerary slated for a summer tour of college camps.
Green, who has offers from Louisville and Western Kentucky, also took home some hardware as the overall class MVP at the National Underclassmen Combine after running a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, 4.2 shuttle, jumping 8.7 feet in the broad jump and 30 inches in the vertical and then posting 30 reps in the 155-pound bench.
“I feel like I could have done better on some of the things, like the 40, but overall I did pretty well,” Green said. “It feels good to walk around with the overall MVP trophy. There were a lot of good running backs out there.”
Other sophomores who stood out Sunday at the Orlando NUC camp were Oviedo lineman Alec Shriner (6-4, 270), who is visiting Middle Tennessee this week; Hagerty linebacker Jonathan Burnham, who had a 30-rep bench press at 155; linebacker Austin Kinney of Orlando University; quarterback class MVP Austin Hunt of Lake Minneola; and class leadership award winner Whitney Simon a linebacker at Jones.
TFA has another standout sophomore of the two-sport variety in 6-3, 170-pound Fletcher Magee, a basketball/football prospect who will play quarterback for the Royals this season.
And introducing the overall class MVP for eighth-graders, a star in the making who might be the next Jones High starting quarterback: Bruce Judson Jr. (5-8, 153), the son of longtime Jones assistant Bruce Judson Sr. The young Judson, now at Memorial Middle School, showed tremendous quarterback skills at just 15 years old and he could be Orlando's star of the future, so keep an ear to the ground for this prospect.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun