There are hundreds of high school players in the state of Florida every year at this time who are mumbling the same question to themselves over and over, "What about me?"
For some, they'll be asking that question eternally, even when they are telling their grandchildren about how they were star high school football players. For whatever reasons, their number wasn't called and, let's face it, not everyone can go on to greatness, and not everyone — OK, most anyone — is really ever as good as they think they are.
But the true test right now for those wondering where they stand begins next Monday when spring football practice for high schools starts across the state.
It's an opportunity for college coaches and scouts to get an up-close-and-personal view of would-be prospects. For many prospects, it's the time to shine. If they don't, well, Division I-AA, II and III also need football players. Walter Payton didn't seem to mind. Nor did Jerry Rice.
There are plenty of Central Florida players who stand to gain significantly from a big spring showing and Sanford Seminole safety/kicker/punter Eric Farkas is one of the best overlooked players you will find.
After receiving an offer from Mississippi last month, the usual scenario would see numerous other D-I schools following suit. But for Farkas, nothing. Not even hometown UCF.
He doesn't show his frustrations, preferring to get spring ball going.
"I'm excited and I can't wait," Farkas said. "I look forward to this every year as soon as football ends, I start counting down the days until spring comes around."
Farkas, who is ranked No. 37 in the Sentinel's 2011 Central Florida Super60, is a 6-foot, 185-pounder who has cover skills to match corners and speed to make up gaps and to break on the ball. He runs a 4.6 40-yard dash. He could even be the best punter/kicker combo in the state. Made 11 field goals last year, longest 48 yards.
The real player in everyone comes out in practices and coaches will be looking to see who performs to their level of expectations in the practice settings, as well as in each team's one spring game.
"I go all out on everything I do from warm-ups to stretching to getting water," Farkas said. "You always have to be on the jog because you never know who's watching you."
Here are a few area players who will benefit most from spring ball:
- WR-DB R.J. Dixon (5-9, 148) Sanford Seminole: He's slender and light at 148, but the man can flat fly (sub 4.5) and he just does things when he gets the ball. He was overall MVP at the Top Gun camp and will compete at the national Top Gun. He has no offers.
- LBs Matt McCrary (6-0, 209) and Colin Brown (6-0, 217), Orlando Timber Creek: Could rank up there with some of the best linebacker duos in the area. Brown showed he can tackle last season and McCrary can actually play all over and he has 4.5 speed. No offers.
- WR Tyler Thrift (6-2, 180), Hagerty: Somebody has to catch balls thrown by UF-bound Jeff Driskel. Thrift is the man and he could catch 50 balls this year. Great hands and 4.5 speed that is deceivingly explosive. Runs 4.2 shuttle. No offers.
- LB Colin Burke (5-11, 185), Freedom: Has been getting rave reviews in what limited exposure he's had. Patriots expecting big things. Teammate TE Aaron Nielsen, another overlooked player, calls Burke, "The real deal."
- Jones High athletes: They are everywhere. Coach Kenard Lang keeps pulling them out of his hip pocket. Some are well known, but players like LB Tafari Huggins, DE Kenny Judson, DE Jusme Guerinand, LB/WR Steven Michel, have plenty to gain.
- DL Deion Green (6-3, 215), Edgewater: Not to be confused with the Olympia no-I Deon Green. Looking to gain some weight headed into senior year and hopes to hit 240. One of best linemen in the area.
- ATHs Trenier Orr (5-10, 170) and Robensen Roche (6-0, 170), Ocoee: These guys are like true bookends. Built the same, run the same and play football hard. They'll play anywhere you want them and play it well. Orr is getting the most looks as a DB while Roche is a WR. They're fast and relentless.
- WR Dante Campbell (6-4, 195), Clermont East Ridge: Has the size and hands college coaches will love. He, too, will draw more interest with time, but Campbell should be a big-time talent.
- DTs Tyler Chaudoin (6-0, 240) Oviedo, and Mike Pata (6-0, 210) Bishop Moore: These guys are identical types of players. Relentless off the ball snap. They go all out on everything. Both are likely college linebackers and both have the speed needed to make the switch.
There are tons of overlooked players out there, and ironically, I will overlook some here.
It's easy to overlook players, especially in Central Florida, a wasteland of undiscovered football talent. In order to try and amend the oversights, here's a list of some others to watch:
RB Brian Young (Seabreeze), OL Colin Johnson (Ocoee), FS Johnny Boston (Oviedo), DB Spencer Waseem (Apopka), DB Keenan Williams (Apopka), OL Marck Castillo (Kissimmee Liberty), DB RJ Altman (Edgewater), RB Keith Craven (Edgewater), Pierre Youngblood-Ary (Lake Brantley), DT Tyrone Brown (Lake Highland), LB Marcell Coke (Wekiva), LB Brandon Bragg (Orlando University), TE Ryan Stanney (Bishop Moore), WR Chris Streat (Orlando East River), DB Joey Knipe (Bishop Moore), LB Kellen Williams (West Orange), DB Kevin Gunning (Edgewater), RB Isaiah Bolden (Timber Creek), WR Jon Christopher (Seabreeze), DT Frank Martin (Mount Dora), C Eric Thoni (Lake Highland Prep), LB Joe Voigt (East Ridge).
No quarterbacks here. We'll tackle that next week.
There is one significant accomplishment for which all players must strive in order to get to the next level -- academic achievement. High GPAs and SAT and ACT test scores are becoming more and more important for football players, like regular students. We can mostly only vouch for physical ability here. But a 4.5 is not solely the measurement of a fast athlete. A 4.5 weighted GPA can open some big doors and they don't lead to the locker room.
Aim high in the classroom. It's your life.
If you have been receiving legitimate interest from Division-IA schools, shoot me an e-mail at the address below. Coaches can also help us by e-mailing names and appropriate stats for any top prospects we may have overlooked.
Chris Hays is the recruiting coverage coordinator for the Sentinel. Reach him at email@example.com.