The Prospector: For recruiters seeking hidden gems, they're right here in Central Florida

Zach Smith, RB, Kissimmee Gateway

Zach Smith, RB, Kissimmee Gateway still has no offers despite more than 1,000 yards rushing this year. (JOSHUA C. CRUEY / ORLANDO SENTINEL / November 27, 2012)

Every year about this time, senior football players worthy of more recruiting attention start getting worried.

For many of them, their season is over, they've done all they can on the football field and now they have to go about the process of marketing themselves.

For players like running back Zach Smith of Kissimmee Gateway, it's hard to comprehend. He had an incredible senior season, rushing for 1,665 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has good size at 6 feet, 185. Although the 185 seems small, when you see him in pads, he looks the part.

NCAA FCS school Weber State in Utah has offered. If the Wildcats land him, it'll be grand theft.

"Yeah, I've talked to coach Rascati at Weber and they really like me up there," Smith said of Weber quarterbacks coach Justin Rascati, a Gainesville native who has directed a focused Weber effort on recruiting in Central Florida.

The Wildcats have already lured Orlando Evans running back Oran Maxwell and Apopka wide receiver Synjohn Lilly to Utah. Weber also recently offered little-recruited Orlando Freedom slot-back Lee Grant.

It's almost like robbing the store while no one else is looking. Weber figures, if no one else wants them, heck, they'll take them.

"Right now, the only people really contacting him are Weber State and Pikeville. It is surprising," Gateway coach Marlin Roberts said. "I guess, it being Gateway, we don't get a lot of people coming around that often.

"He's qualified and all that. He is probably the best athlete who's been through here since I've been here and I've been here since 2001. He just has that natural ability."

Smith and Grant aren't the only ones. There is a slew of under-recruited players in Central Florida

If there is anyone who should be questioning his lack of recruiting, it's Warner Christian running back Marcus Dixon. He's rushed for more 5,000 yards in his career at Warner. He emerged from the shadows of former Warner star Breon Allen two years ago and has been putting up huge numbers ever since.

Warner is just a 2A school, but college coaches have to know by now that the size of the school doesn't make the running back. They need not look any further than Allen, who wasn't exactly heavily recruited, either. He was committed to Pitt but followed ex-teammate and Warner QB Tyler Barron to Snow College in Ephraim, Utah.

Allen was recently named the Western States Football League player of the year and broke the Snow career rushing record with 2,380 yards. He was on an official recruiting visit to Boise State this past weekend.

It's a crapshoot as to who is going to get the attention they deserve. Plenty deserve it, but how do they get it? That's the million-dollar question. It's one I get asked all of the time.

And, obviously, I don't have a million dollars.

Several other senior football players in Central Florida who have, for whatever the reason, had a hard time getting noticed on the recruiting radar.

They've had great senior seasons, done what they need to in the classroom, according to their coaches, and are just lacking that one break.

Here is a list, albeit far from all-inclusive, of some of the area's top overlooked talents:

LB Colton Plante, First Academy, 6-2, 218

Are you kidding? No offers. Colton Plante is a legit stud

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