We've updated our 2011 Sentinel Central Florida Super60, but this time it wasn't without debate and reconsideration when it came to determining the top three players in the area.
What we always have to keep in focus here at Sentinel recruiting -- myself, high school writer Buddy Collings and SentinelVarsity.com website producer Charles King -- is this: We are trying to determine who is going to be the best college football player, not who is the best high school football player in Central Florida.
Our rankings are determined by voting. The three of us compile our own Super60, and then the numbers are added together with the lowest scores and ties of the top 60 players determining the rankings. So take Jeff Driskel of Hagerty, for example. If he was ranked No. 1 on all three lists, he'd get the lowest possible score of 3, making him the top player overall.
This time, however, along with the voting, we decided to debate the rationale of our rankings for the top three players.
So considering all of the data available and combining it with the intangibles, Driskel is our No. 1 prospect in Central Florida. The other players, Dr. Phillips standouts SS Ha'sean Clinton-Dix and RB Dee Hart, were also atop our list at one point or another during our conversations.
"I think picking between Driskel and Hart for (the Sentinel's) Offensive Player of the Year is going to be very difficult," said Collings. "Hart may be the most dynamic playmaker in the state and I can't imagine anybody doing more for his team than Driskel does. But we're ranking college prospects. Tops on that list have to be Driskel and Clinton-Dix. I'd lean to Driskel as No. 1 right now."
Similarly for King, who said his consideration for No. 1 stood with Driskel all along.
All I needed to see was Hagerty win games. Driskel had won just five games coming into his senior season, and it seemed his teammates had made marked improvement with work during the offseason. The Huskies started out a little slow because of some injuries, but they have been on a roll, mostly thanks to Driskel. They are 6-2 and finished district play 3-1.
Hagerty will clinch the school's first ever state playoff berth if Winter Springs defeats Oviedo in a key Class 5A, District 5 contest Friday night. If Oviedo wins, it would make for a three-way tie and a Nov. 8 "Shootout" tiebreaker, likely at Hagerty, considering overall records.
Driskel has it all for a quarterback prospect and that's why he was the target of Florida coach Urban Meyer, who got Driskel's commitment on April 20.
- The body: He's 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, has a gun for a throwing arm, yet he's dead-on accurate most of the time, but doesn't need to throw the ball to win (256 yards rushing yards against St. Cloud is proof) and he's just one tough football player. Rarely does the first tackle attempt bring him down.
- The mind: There is no such thing as a broken play with Driskel on the field. If one option breaks down, he'll make other options. He's smart and not just football smart.
- The heart: He's out there to win, has the desire to be the best that far exceeds most others and his preparation is thorough. He won't rest on his laurels nor take his teammates for granted. He's treated his offensive linemen to dinner at least once this season.
But don't just take our word for it. We brought in good friend Corey Long of ESPN to give us his insight on our top three players.
"There's no doubt that Jeff Driskel is equipped with the total package to be successful in college and beyond. Size, speed, arm strength, attitude. He has it all," Long said. "He blew me and everyone else away at the Elite 11 National Showcase with his ability to make all the throws.I believe we'll be talking about Driskel for a long time.
"He is the best prospect at the most important position."
As for Clinton-Dix, who winds up second in our latest Super60 update, he's a football athlete in the truest sense of the word. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder is touted as the No. 1 safety in the country by most services and the reason why he's headed to Alabama, but put him on offense and he can score from anywhere, which he's done for unbeaten Dr. Phillips.
He can line up as running back, wide receiver, tight end. On defense, he could play any position with the exception of maybe the down lineman spots. He's 6-foot-2, 210 pounds and has exceptional speed. He also has albatross arms that wrap up tacklers and pick off passes.
"The first thing that you see when you watch Ha'sean is his size and those long arms," Long said. "He looks like he's 6-foot-6 back there. A very intimidating presence and his athleticism is off the charts. Make a mistake in his direction and he's grabbing it out of the air and taking it to the house."
That brings us to Hart, the most exciting football player to come around in some time. He's that kind of player who everyone watches every second he's on the field.
Anything can happen when the ball is in his hands. He's 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, but if you think you can tackle this little man, think again. During one 54-yard TD run against Boone this year, he twisted and juked his way around at least 10 would-be tacklers and does that same thing all the time. He's like some alien runner devoid of gravitational pull.
"What really surprised me about Hart was his receiving ability. Many running backs in the state have put up impressive stats but he is a natural receiver out of the backfield," Long said. "Add that to his other tools and you have a dynamic, versatile talent in the backfield."
For me, Hart is far and away the best high school football player in Central Florida this year. Will he make the best college player? He could wind up a phenom at Michigan, but only time will tell.
I just can't wait to watch all three on Saturdays.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun