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The Prospector: Make way for little guys in fast, furious football

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If you like speed and flash in your football, then you’re going to love what Central Florida’s 2014 edition has to offer.

As we look at the upcoming senior class, and more specifically, the latest Sentinel Super60 rankings, one thing jumps out quickly. This bunch is speedy. Little is the new big in college football. Maybe not so much in the big, bad SEC (although Kentucky will give it a go this year) but across the rest of the nation, fast and furious is the new wave.

Seven of the top 10 and nine of the top 16 players are flat-out fliers, and while these guys may not be big in size, what they do for each of their respective football teams is huge.

Daytona Beach Seabreeze athlete Charles Nelson, the highest-ranked of these 40-yard phenoms, will likely be playing running back for the Sandcrabs after former teammate and fellow fast guy Trey Rodriguez transferred to Daytona Beach Mainland.

Nelson (5-10, 165), who also plays corner, is considered the top Central Florida prospect by 247sports.com. He sat out most of this past season with an ACL tear. Be assured, however: He’s still fast.

Nelson has offers so far from Boston College, Cincinnati, Duke, Georgiat Tech and Memphis.

Seabreeze coach Marc Beach had the top two Central Florida players by 247sports.com rankings until Rodriguez’s defection to Mainland. In the Sentinel’s Super60, Nelson is No. 2 and Rodriguez is No. 4. It’s tough to lose Rodriguez, Nelson said, but what can you do? “We’ve played without him before ... we’ll be all right,” Nelson said.

Rodriguez (5-9, 175) has offers from Boston College, Memphis, Temple and Wake Forest.

I’m not sure who the fastest player is on the list, but I’d love to see the foot race. Ranked Nos. 6 through 10 on the Super60 are: New Smyrna Beach ATH D’Cota Dixon, Dr. Phillips ATH Deionte Gaines, West Orange WR Garrett Johnson, Oviedo QB/ATH Chris Davis Jr., Dr. Phillips WR Roderick Proctor. Lake Nona WR Ryan Sousa is No. 12 and Olympia ATH Alex Gomez is No. 16. Injured Wadzaire Blanc at Lake Nona is another speedster who is not currently ranked, but when healthy he, too, will bring another dimension to the Lions’ high-energy offense.

Dixon (5-11, 185) will spend most of his time at running back for the Barracudas and he also plays safety and returns kicks. He’ll have more duties on kickoffs this year with James Clark graduating and off to Ohio State. He already has offers from West Virgnia, Ball State, UMass, NC State, North Carolina, Vanderbilt.

Gaines and Proctor give DP plenty of outside horsepower. Gaines (5-8, 165) will see plenty of running-back time next season, platooning with fellow 2014er Kerry Bernard, but he is most dangerous on the fly. He took back four kicks for touchdowns last season and scored 11 times total. Gaines has an offer from Cincinnati.

Proctor (6-0, 170) is Mr. Hands of the duo and he had 43 catches for almost 800 yards and 10 TDs. DP will be trying out QBs this spring, but Proctor is ready and waiting.

Johnson (5-9, 162), who has had 104 catches, 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons, should be in for a huge year with fellow returning starter Hayden Griffitts as quarterback. Johnson has offers from Northwestern, Boston College and USF.

If you want to know how fast Oviedo quarterback Davis is, just call Tallahassee Lincoln coach Yusuf Shakir. His team found that out in the Class 7A quarterfinals this past season. Davis (6-0, 165) projects as a college receiver, which is exactly where he wants to play. For now, however, he guides Coach Wes Allen’s offense.

Sousa (5-11, 170), the younger brother of former Lake Nona and current Wake Forest QB Kevin Sousa, ran circles around Lions opponents last season and caught 92 passes for 1,600 yards and 21 TDs. He’s gotten bigger in terms of muscle weight over the past six moths, but he has done a nice job of not losing speed with the addition of the mass. He ran a sub-4.5 40 at a combine this past weekend.

For Sousa, the speed is there, but he also excels at route-running, quick cuts and his glue hands are his forte. He has several scholarship offers so far with UCLA, Rutgers, Cincinnati, FIU and FAU already on board. Wake is likely next in line.

Gomez (5-10, 165) is the most under-rated of the bunch. He can play a multitude of positions and has great versatility and tremendous speed. It will be interesting to see how the Titans use him in 2013 with a new coaching staff. Gomez has a Marshall offer.

Revved up passing offenses have opened up new paths for these fast little guys who didn’t used to have a prayer in scholarship hopes. Now colleges are all over them. Here’s Here’s hoping they get big opportunities. 

 

Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at chays@tribune.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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