The competition at this past weekend’s UCF 7-on-7 tournament was fierce, with great athletes flying all over the place on the UCF practice fields and inside the Nicholson Fieldhouse.
It was a whirlwind affair of 31 teams going after the title, which was eventually won by Daytona Beach Seabreeze behind the play of QB Trenton Norvell, ATH Charles Nelson and WR Anthony Campanella, among others.
While not quite the 7-on-7 machine that Winter Park was last year with quarterback Sam Richardson (now at Iowa State), the Sandcrabs still have somewhat of the same idea. They run players on similar routes in areas that Norvell can simply check down to as each zone becomes covered. It gets a lot of people involved and leaves opposing teams wondering about why there is always someone open.
Norvell is currently committed to Marshall, but there is nothing etched in stone. He also has Temple and USF offers, so he’s going to take it all in and see if Marshall is truly the place for him.
- Orlando Freedom put up some pretty good numbers in the tourney as well and finished as runner-up. The plethora of athletes that QB Derick Abbott has surrounding him is a QB dream with the likes of WRs Jeff Badet, Lee Grant, Allen Ali and Sean Rogers, RBs Austin Gamble, Devin Cortese and Elijah Collington, and defenders like Jarius McMillan and Efrain Luyando.
Pompano Beach Blanche Ely WR Avery Johnson was showing off his skills, breaking free when he wanted and using his 4.4 speed to get downfield and beyond the secondary. He also said after his team was eliminated by Orlando Jones that he liked UCF a lot, and plans another trip to the Orlando school this summer.
Orlando Colonial WR Jeremy Gloston had a good tournament. He has picked up offers from several schools recently in Washington State, Illinois and Buffalo.
Colonial teammate Derrick Knott had a great day as well for Colonial, with a pair of touchdowns and an interception in one game. Colonial was undefeated before losing in the Final 8. Also having a good day for Colonial were ATH Diante Harrison and QB Armando Caballero.
Besides Avery Johnson’s performance, there were others who stood out for Blanche Ely. Five-foot-7 scat back Darrien Allen, wwas one of them. He also makes for the team comedian on and off the field. During the Ely-Jones game, Allen walked up to the Jones sideline and stepped into the huddle right alongside Jones coach Kenard Lang. He fit right in and Lang didn’t notice him for a minute. When he did notice he looked down at a smiling Allen and said, “What are you doing over here?” drawing laughter from the Jones players.
Also drawing oohs and ahhs much of the day were a pair of Delray Beach American Heritage players RB-DB Greg Bryant, who has a multitude of offers, and TE Blake Davis, who missed last year with a knee injury.
St. Cloud put its arsenal of receivers on display at UCF. Senior QB Phillip Steinmetz one talented crew of receivers in his sights. The top two returning players are Brett Biller (Central Florida’s leading returning receiver with 49 catches last year), and Cole Harvey (37 catches). Adding to the mixture is transfer Austyn Jandrew, who came over from Harmony. The other receiver who will add even more talent to the Bulldogs’ arsenal is Jordan Reus, who is nursing a stress fracture and his lower right leg is in a walking cast. These guys need a nickname. QuadDawgs anyone?
Also at St. Cloud, RB-DB E.J. McKenzie (6-1, 190) certainly is looking as if he might be able to step right into the shoes of the departing Irving Huggins. He should be a force this year as a junior.
I had been waiting to see Warner Christian’s impressive tandem of WR-DB Taylor Oldham and RB Marcus Dixon since their incredible performances at the state championship last season, which, unfortunately, Warner lost for the third straight year. They didn’t disappoint at UCF. Oldham is a senior and has but two offers from Tennessee State and Bethune-Cookman. UCF is interested though. And Oldham is interested, as well. He called UCF coaches on Monday to let them know and he spoke with secondary coach Sean Beckton.
Orlando University RB DeeJay Holley was on the sideline at the UCF 7-on-7 on Saturday, not taking any chances with a dislocated patella, somewhat of a gruesome injury, in which the kneecap pops out of position. He said he will be back on the field by July. University WR Marcus Garvey had his moments Saturday, and up-and-coming sophomore TE Brandon Pylar.
Groveland South Lake was in action, as well, and WR P.J. Harris said he has offers from Boston College, Duke, Iowa State, Washington State, Memphis, South Carolina, Troy and Temple.
One fan at UCF said during the tourney, “Wow, that guy is amazing. Best player here.” He was talking about Edgewater WR Alton “Pig” Howard. No one could hang with Pig, and his speed surprised a lot of defenders. Teammate Karl Joseph also had a big day as the Eagles made it to the semifinals, losing to Freedom.
Winter Park senior CB Xavier Kelly (5 offers) got beat just once all day and the transfer from Lake Howell, which tied the Wildcats 14-14, is starting to blossom into the Division I d-back everyone thought he could be. WR Davrio Montgomery (more than 20 offers) was his same old self. He started the day off somewhat slowly, but kicked it into gear in the afternoon portion of the tourney. This kid can ball, that's why he's No. 1 in the Sentinel's 2012 Central Florida Super60. Linebackers James Washington (17 offers) and Bobby Van Warner are making for a solid tandem across the middle of the defense.
Teams couldn’t keep Jones ATH Kermit Whitfield in check. The UM commit used his speed to get past the secondary on numerous occasions.
- The big gun for Jones on Saturday, however, was someone whose name you likley have not heard. But you will, again and again. Alex Gomez, a legit ATH, gets my vote as tournament MVP. There was no one with better hands in traffic than the transfer from Ocoee. Gomez plays a multitude of positions, including quarterback in "Wildcat" sets. What's most impressive about his skill level is that he's only a rising sophomore.
Sure there were plenty of others who were impressive, but no one drew as many "wows," as Gomez. He has it. And "IT" is the Wow Factor.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun