Players the caliber of Wharton or someone with star potential is what will be necessary to turn the attention toward Osceola’s “other” schools, but not even his ability was enough this year.
Some players have even saw fit to transfer to Osceola High. The Kowboys have several players on their roster who started at other county high schools before moving into the OHS district. Junior linebacker Riley Nicholson is a good example.
Nicholson came in as an already accomplished player and defensive/offensive standout at Harmony, but his parents moved inside the Osceola High zone and his recruitment will likely benefit from the exposure and higher level of competition with the Class 7A state semifinalist from a year ago. The No. 14-ranked player in the Sentinel’s 2015 Central Florida Super60 has two offers so far from Minnesota and South Alabama.
Osceola head coach Doug Nichols said that while his players may see plenty of scouts at spring practices – he counted upwards of 80-90 coaches visiting over the course of this past spring’s sessions – it still isn’t always easy for his players to land a scholarship to an FBS institution.
“Something that some people don’t realize is that there has to be a fit for the school,” said Nichols, who was also head coach at Liberty before taking over at OHS. “Even with Stafon McCray last year, who was one of the better running backs in Central Florida, we were down to the end finding him a place before he chose South Florida.
“And it wasn’t because people didn’t like him or because he wasn’t good enough, it was because the guys who came through didn’t need running backs that particular year.”
Of course, there is always the sense that perhaps some players just aren’t college-caliber football players, especially at the FBS level. So what might seem to be a gross oversight to coaches or parents of some players left off the recruiting boards, might just be more wishful thinking than anything else.
“Sometimes it does have to be reality when it comes to Division 1 athletes,” Nichols said.
And that’s a harsh reality to swallow considering results being accomplished on the high school football field. It’s the job of college recruiters, however, to figure out how those high school results are going to translate to the big-time stadiums on Saturdays.
College football is big business. Coaches get fired because their recruiting classes are not up to par and do not produce on the field.
Taking a chance on a kid at Harmony or Poinciana, just as an example, might look bad on a coach if the player does not pan out, whereas recruiting a sure thing from a proven high school won’t reflect so poorly on the coach if the player just fails to live up to expectations.
There is a certain risk involved no matter who a college coach recruits. Coaches have reputations. Who they are willing to stake those reputations on could be the determining factor in a coach’s future.
That’s the reality.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting, Instagram at os_recruiting and on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.