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The Prospector
Orlando-area recruiting hits frenzied pace as National Signing Day nears

Chris Hays

The Prospector

11:02 PM EST, January 17, 2013

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There are only 22 days remaining until National Signing Day on Feb. 6, but there are still numerous Central Florida college football prospects without future homes, and many of them have seen new colleges expressing interest.

The lateness of some of the inquiries is making for pretty interesting storylines as we head to NSD, with the some of the most intriguing interest coming in for a trio of Volusia County prospects, Quinton Powell, JoJo Kemp and James Clark.

Powell, the Daytona Beach Mainland linebacker who committed to Florida last spring but changed his plans in November, seemed to have his final recruiting itinerary all planned. He was to visit Southern Cal this weekend, and then he would take three more official visits to South Carolina, Oregon and Miami. Arkansas and the staff of new Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema have come in late with Powell, and the athletic 6-foot-3, 200-pounder is definitely interested.

Arkansas will become a serious player in the world of Florida high-school football recruiting in the future. Bielema was very active in Florida while at Wisconsin, and he brought with him from the Badgers staff Charlie Partridge, a familiar face in Florida recruiting circles. Partridge will coach the defensive line.

Also joining Bielema at Arkansas is George MacDonald, the former Miami assistant touted for his recruiting skills, and former UM head coach Randy Shannon, another coach familiar with the Dade metro area. That gives Bielema plenty of familiarity in South Florida, and MacDonald is a big reason why the Hogs are in on Powell so late.

So Powell will now visit USC this weekend, South Carolina on Jan. 26 and then Arkansas on Feb. 1, which is the final weekend prospects can make official visits. He also plans to visit Oregon.

“And maybe squeeze in Miami,” Powell texted on Monday. That Miami visit would have to be “unofficial” because the other four would use up Powell’s NCAA allotment of five official visits. He used his first official visit to go to Gainesville last month.

The Gators were still in the picture, but once UF received a commitment from Virginia LB Matt Rolin, it’s not likely UF will take another linebacker. The Gators already have 26 commitments and are getting close to full.

As for Clark, a wide receiver from New Smyrna Beach, he’s been getting numerous inquiries about his interest, with the latest coming from Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer.

Meyer, the former Gators coach, will be going head to head with UF, Nebraska and Clemson in the battle for Clark’s services. Clark (5-11, 160), who has already set up an official visit with UF on Jan. 25, hosted Gators receivers coach Joker Phillips on Monday night for an in-house visit.

“It went well,” Clark said. “It was really a good chance to strengthen our relationship and get to know each other better.”

Phillips was not the only one to stop by Monday night as Clark also hosted Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman and Clemson assistants Chad Morris (offensive coordinator) and Jeff Scott (recruiting coordinator). After those visits Monday, Clark determined that his other official visit will be to Clemson this weekend.

“My in-home with Clemson really changed my view,” Clark said Tuesday morning. “I feel not giving Clemson an opportunity would be a mistake ... but Ohio State is still in the picture.”

Clark is coming off a Nebraska visit this past weekend, and he was very impressed by his trip. He has already visited Northwestern and Purdue, so the UF and Clemson trips will be his final official visits.

Powell and Clark aren’t the only prospects with decisions to make, however, and here is a rundown of up-to-the-minute news on many of the uncommitted players from the Sentinel’s rankings of the 2013 Central Florida Super60. There are 28 Super60 members already committed, and four of those players are already enrolled for the spring semester — Winter Garden West Orange LB Corey Vereen (Tennessee), Orlando East River LB Ryne Rankin (Georgia), Orlando Olympia OL Shawn Curtis (Iowa State), Dr. Phillips LB Alton Meeks (Iowa State) and Altamonte Springs Lake Brantley LB Dominic MacDonald (Duke).

Powell, ranked No. 2, is the highest-ranked uncommitted Super60 player, followed Kemp at No. 10, then Clark, who is No. 12, and right behind him is 13th-ranked Jeff Badet, a wide receiver from Orlando Freedom.

Kemp said last week his top three schools are Kentucky, Pittsburgh and West Virginia and that he was planning to make a decision this week following a visit to Kentucky this past weekend.

Kemp, however, recently scheduled another official visit to Tennessee and he posted on Twitter that Tennessee and USF, from whom he decommitted in October, are still in the picture. Kemp will visit Tennessee this weekend, his fourth offiicial visit.

Badet is another player receiving late interest. Coming off an official visit to Wake Forest on Sunday, Badet earned another scholarship offer from Iowa State and he immediately moved the Cyclones into his top three schools, supplanting Wake.

Badet, who was another USF commitment but decommitted after head coach Skip Holtz was fired, is now leaning toward Kentucky, where he will visit this weekend. Joining Kentucky and Iowa State in his top 3 is Clemson. Tigers’ coaches Scott and Morris are making a home visit to Badet tonight.

Here are some other undecided Orlando-area prospects and their remaining options, at least for now, in this ever-changing recruiting landscape:

 

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.