As is the case every year, the upcoming football season will be what defines the future for many seniors looking to advance to the next level.
There are plenty of seniors who have their paths planned. They know where they are headed to college, their commitments are made and their focus is now on high-school goals.
There are others who don’t exactly know where they are headed, but they have plenty of college scholarship offers from which to choose and the senior season won’t likely change those options.
But for many more seniors, this season will be of utmost importance toward gaining the interest from college coaches that has, so far, been lacking. There are plenty of area football players who believe they are college-football material, but for whatever reason they haven’t been getting the attention they might deserve.
Running back Deondre Fair and Jamarcus Federick are two of those players.
Fair, a 5-foot-10, 205-pound runner who has good speed and great balance, transferred to Wekiva High in Apopka for his senior year. He sputtered a bit last season at Lake Brantley with nagging injuries but did manage 885 yards on 118 carries.
He shined at the University of Florida’s annual Friday Night Lights camp last month, showing he was in top-notch form. He proved to be extremely agile in the drills, and moved very well in comparison to the other 100-plus running backs at the camp.
“There was a lot of competition out there, but I thought I did pretty good,” he said. “I was looking at all the people in front of me and looking at how their footwork was and stuff like that. I think I was one of the best ones there, to be honest.”
He’s had some looks from Auburn and Iowa State, but that’s about it. The only offer he’s had is from Football Championship Subdivision member Furman, where former Brantley teammate Donovan Franks is a freshman defensive back.
“It’s really disappointing,” Fair said of the lack of offers. “I know I’m one of the really good running backs [in the area]. I haven’t really gotten my shot yet. At Lake Brantley, sophomore year it was mostly Ti'on [Green] and my junior year I was coming off injuries.”
Fair should be set up pretty well this season as the featured back for the new offense installed by first-year Wekiva coach Kenard Lang, who came over from Orlando Jones. Fair has always been one of the Orlando-area running backs with great potential, but this is make-or-break time for him.
“I think it’s going to be pretty good. Coach Lang has me doing a lot of different stuff and [offensive coordinator] Charlie Frye has me playing a lot of spots, like slot, running back, some receiver,” Fair said. “I’m looking to be one of the team leaders here. I’m healthy with no injuries and I’m looking for a big senior year.
“Coach Lang just told me to keep my head up and go hard every day in practice and show out on the field.”
Federick has a new coaching staff at West Orange as well, with Bob Head moving over from Olympia High to the Winter Garden school.
The 5-foot-9, 205-pound Federick has gained a reputation as an outstanding blocker, but make no mistake, the man they call GOAT (Greatest of All Time) can run the football. He takes the nickname as handed down from his grandfather and father and he tries to live by the acronym.
Last season, he became the go-to guy for the Warriors and racked up an impressive 1,087 yards and 10 TDs. He’ll figure into the West Orange offense even more this season, despite a likely reliance on the passing game in the Warriors’ spread.
“Most definitely they’re gonna use me more this season,” Federick said. “They know I’m a big threat and they can use me to open things up for the receivers.”
He said his academics have slowed his recruiting process, but he is working diligently to bring his grades up to par. He carries a 2.6 GPA and will take his college-entrance tests in September.
“I just feel like I have to work harder academically,” he said. “I’ve been working on it and I’m going to get it right. I also feel like I have to have an even better year than last year on the field, too. … my goal is to run for 1,500 yards.”
Fair and Federick are just two of the numerous senior football players looking to make their mark during their final season. It can be done, as proved by those before them.
In 2011, Orlando Dr. Phillips receiver Trey Griffey had a major breakout season, hooking up with fellow all-American quarterback Nick Patti to break several Panthers records en route to a scholarship to Arizona.
Orlando Freedom defensive lineman Kevin Maurice was another player who pushed his status into a BCS-level scholarship as a senior. He drew late attention from Nebraska, with whom he signed in February. Apopka TE Trey Hendrickson had no offers prior to the Darters' playoff run to a state title, and he eventually signed with FAU, and Sanford Seminole's Mr. Everything Ronnie Moore used an incredible senior year to finally gain himself a scholarship to Bowling Green,
So for those players who have yet to strike recruiting paydirt, there is still time. Your senior year awaits. Don't waste it.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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