Across the Deep South, I

GEORGIA

2014 OLB Deshon Cooper (6’4, 205, 4.69) of Columbia High in Decatur has offers from KentuckyVanderbiltLouisvilleLouisiana LafayetteLouisiana-MonroeRutgersGeorgia St., and Old Dominion.

He recently visited the Tennessee Volunteers. “I enjoyed my visit. The facilities are nice, the tempo of practice was good.”

Auburn and South Carolina will receive summer camp visits and he’ll travel to see Louisville for a Junior Day very soon. “I’m anxious to see Louisville. When I watched the Sugar Bowl, they really impressed me.”

Last season, Cooper registered 62 tackles, five sacks, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, one PBU and one safety. He also sees time at wideout, where he had 123 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

Cooper said Columbia High has a chance to have a special season. “We’ve been working extremely hard and we’re determined to go all the way this season. I feel like we’ve come together this offseason and bonded as a team.”

He’s seeking a family atmosphere where he has the chance to earn early playing time. “I’d like to contribute right away and I’d prefer to play college football in the Deep South.”

Columbia’s talented junior is planning on graduating in December to be eligible to compete in spring practice next year.

FLORIDA

2014 OLB Jacob Rios (6’2, 215, 4.76) of Tampa Catholic recently visited Florida Atlantic. “I arrived early and got to sit in on the defensive, special teams, and linebacker meetings. I really enjoyed that and I like how the FAU staff is running things. It’s a school I could definitely see myself attending for four years.”

FAU will scout Rios next month at spring practice and will decide on an offer after seeing him up close. “I’d really like an offer from them. My visit really has me excited about FAU.”

Alabama St.UMass, and Purdue have expressed interest in Tampa Catholic’s linebacker. Rios told Varsity Preps he has interest in Cincinnati and South Florida.

This summer, he’ll attend the FAU Linebacker School and will camp at UNC Charlotte.

Rios spoke about what will be important in his recruitment. “I’m looking for the best opportunity for me and a family atmosphere,” he said. “I’d like to play on the East Coast preferably.”

He’d like to have a decision in place before the season starts.

TENNESSEE

2016 OL Casen Sloan (6’2, 280) of Battle Ground Academy in Tennessee is a big guard that’s already receiving mail from Princeton. “They want me to camp and become more familiar with their program.”

BGA’s young lineman has a busy summer ahead. “I’ll be attending a FBU camp and the Blue Chip Academy camp,” he said. “I also want to camp at Vanderbilt and Tennessee.

“I’m interested in Tennessee and I like Vanderbilt,” Sloan said. “Vandy is close to home and I like James Franklin. He’s really doing a great job with that program and has raised their profile in Nashville.”

Sloan is concentrating on elevating his overall game. “I feel I’m a good pass blocker and this offseason, I’ve been working on getting stronger and improving my run blocking.”

Education will be the most important factor in his college choice. School location and playing early won’t be as important to him, but a program’s recent success will have an impact on his decision.

VIRGINIA

2014 ATH/QB William Smith (6’1, 185, 4.5) of Granby High in Norfolk, Virginia is an athletic playmaker that’s hearing from UNC CharlotteTempleTennesseeVirginia Tech, and Hampton among others.

He shared some details with Varsity Preps about conversations he’s had with college coaches recently. “Temple, I talk to them a lot and they say they want me at DB.

“I just started talking with Tennessee and they want me at corner, too.”

Smith visited Virginia Tech for a Junior Day last weekend. “I got to see the program up close and I like the players that go through there.”

Granby’s versatile athlete will camp at UNC CharlotteTennesseeTempleVirginiaVirginia TechNorth Carolina, and Elon this summer.

Williams will choose a school with an international relations/business program. “I have a 3.1 GPA and a school having that major will go a long way with me.”

He lists no favorites currently. “I’m still wide open, but I really do like UNC Charlotte at the moment.”

Williams said he’d like to end the recruiting process by the end of summer.

– Michael Bradley

Across the Deep South, 3/23/2013

FLORIDA

– 2014 DT Darrell Beard (6’2, 310) of Ft. Lauderdale HS is currently being recruited by the Florida Gators and plans to camp there this summer. “I received a camp invitation from Kansas St., so I’d like to attend camp there, also.”

Beard has an interesting “hobby.” Before playing football on the high school level, he was a Right Winger on local hockey teams for seven years and hockey scouts took notice. “I was skating in front of a coach one afternoon after school. We talked, he gave me some tips on my skating technique. At the end of my skating practice, the coach turned out to be an assistant of the Florida Panthers. I went to the game that night, got to meet the team after the game. Some of the players gave me some tips on making my skates better and making my hockey stick more durable. It was an incredible experience.”

Head Coach Richard Dunbar gave a few words on what type of player Beard is. “He’s a special athlete in a big body. We have him playing the three, one, and zero technique at tackle. If you want to beat Beard, you’ll have to double-team him, he can’t be blocked one-on-one.”

– 2015 WR James Gardner (6’3, 185, 4.65) of Ft. Lauderdale High is an undiscovered talent in South Florida. In addition to primarily playing wideout, he can play quarterback and safety.

Gardner told Deep South Recruiting he’s not receiving any college interest currently and is open to all opportunities. He said he’d like to hear from Florida Atlantic, Florida St., and Hawaii.

The big, athletic sophomore also starts for the basketball team at power forward. “I averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds per game.”

Gardner said the biggest factor for him will be finding the right fit. “I want to feel comfortable in the situation surrounding the program I choose,” he said. “The people in and around the program is a big factor for me. The coaching staff that’s in place will also be important in my decision.”

UCF, FAU, and Florida will receive camp visits from him this summer. Coach Dunbar told Deep South Recruiting Gardner will be his #1 WR next season and that he possesses “strong hands and good hand-eye coordination. He’s a physical receiver and a legitimate deep-threat.”

– 2014 RB Kenny Bryant (5’10, 195, 4.5) of Tampa Catholic says he’s hearing from James Madison, Boise St., and USC. “USC and BSU said they want to see more of me in the spring and Boise St. would like me to visit.”

Bryant will attend the Rivals Combine today in Orlando. He’ll camp at Florida Atlantic, Florida St., Boise St., and Georgia this summer.

His interest level in FAU is high. “I like their campus, the program, and how they run their offense.”

Early playing time might be the biggest factor in his decision. “I’m definitely going to be looking for where I can compete, maybe even possibly start as a freshman.”

Here’s his film: Kenny Bryant Jr. Highlights

– 2014 CB Mark Bruno (5’10, 165, 4.48) of Flanagan High recorded 52 tackles and one fumble recovery in 2012. He can also line up at safety and returns kicks and punts. He’s currently not hearing from any programs.

He’ll visit FIU and a few area camps this summer.

His plan is to keep working hard and stay focused until he earns a few offers. Here’s his junior highlights: Bruno film

GEORGIA

– 2014 OLB Quentin Barfield (5’9, 215, 4.6) of Baldwin High in Georgia recorded 82 tackles, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and a pick last season.

He told Deep South Recruiting he intends to camp at Miami, Florida St., and Georgia this summer.

Barfield feels his speed and strength are the best parts of his game. “I’m a physical player that can play sideline-to-sideline.”

Here’s his film: Barfield Tape

ALABAMA

– 2014 DT Mike Turner (5’11, 285) of Auburn High in Alabama recorded 51 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 10 hurries last season.

A few days ago, Turner picked up his first verbal offer from Jacksonville St. He’s also hearing from MTSU, Western Kentucky, Samford, Troy, and Tennessee.

Turner says MTSU is recruiting him the hardest. “They invited me to their spring game April 20th. They want me to meet everybody and become comfortable in the program.”

He’ll attend camp at Cincinnati, Tennessee, MTSU, Memphis, Georgia St., and maybe a few others.

Being 5’11 at defensive tackle is an obstacle for Turner that he’ll have to overcome time and time again, but feels schools should take a chance on him. “I’m a hard worker. I love to compete. I bench 380, squat 575, and I have a 4.6 shuttle. I think my film speaks for itself.”

Here’s the film: Turner Junior Highlights

– Michael Bradley

2014 OLB Tre Watson, Tampa Catholic, FL

Tre Watson Jr. Film

2014 OLB Tre Watson (6’2, 215, 4.69) of Tampa Catholic in Florida recorded 161 total tackles (88 solo), 16.5 sacks, 26 tackles for loss, 29 quarterback hurries, one interception, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. After his impressive junior campaign and the leading the Tampa area in sacks, he was named Honorable Mention All State by the Associated Press.

Watson brought home big news after being invited to a Junior Day at USF a couple of weeks ago. “I received my first offer from South Florida.” The Bulls aren’t the only program to notice his talents. He’s also hearing from Stanford, Rutgers, Boston College, Arizona, UCLA, Florida St., Georgia Tech, and Duke.

One of Tampa Catholic’s top returning juniors, Watson attended the NUC Showcase last weekend and intends to camp at RutgersDukeStanfordFlorida, and Florida St. over the summer. 

A standout not only on the football field, Watson told Deep South Recruiting his academics are in great shape. “I have a 4.0 GPA unweighted and I made a 1240 on the two-part SAT. I’m also proud of the fact that I’ve never made a B in my life.”

Watson talked about what will be important to him in his recruitment. “The biggest factor for me will be how I relate to the coaches, what I feel they’re interest in me is. I’m looking for the right fit and the relationship factor will be very important,” he said. “I’d like to stay closer to home to play my college ball if possible, but if my opportunities lead me elsewhere I’m open to moving just about anywhere.”

Playing early in college is a goal Watson has set for himself and he’s already in the process of realizing his goal. “I’d love to contribute right away. I’m intending to graduate in December and I want to participate in spring practice for the program I choose. I think that puts me in better position to see immediate playing time.”

Watson doesn’t have any frontrunners currently. “I’m still wide open, but my interest is growing in programs that are showing me interest, like USFStanfordRutgersBoston College, and Duke, but I’m still open to anyone.”

He won’t be making his college choice very soon. “I think I’ll narrow things down after the season gets started and be close to a decision after its over.”

– Michael Bradley

Recruiting Blitz, 1/15/13

– 2014 S/WR Michael Johnson (6’3, 185, 4.49/40) of Champagnat Catholic visited the University of Miami for Junior Day last weekend. His head coach, Mike Tunsil,  also visited UM with Johnson. Coach Tunsil gave Deep South Recruiting some details regarding the visit. “We split up into offense/defense, and we went with Paul Williams. We went upstairs, watched some film and got to know everyone better,” Coach Tunsil said. “Michael loved everything about Miami. We know they want two safeties next year, so he definitely liked that. He’s high on their board and a player they want. Coach Williams wants more film and they want Michael to camp in June. Being there for the first Junior Day is a good sign because there were high priority prospects in attendance.”

Tunsil shared his opinion on the current Hurricanes staff. “I like what they’re doing. People have to realize they’re recruiting under the cloud of the NCAA, considering that I feel like they’re recruiting well. I like Coach Al Golden, he’s an honest man, and when they clear that hurdle, Miami will become Miami again under his leadership.”

– 2014 RB/SS TJ Harrell (6’1, 210, 4.48/40) of Tampa Catholic continues to see his list of impressive offers grow. This afternoon, he received his 17th from FSU. He also owns verbal offers from Mississippi St., Georgia, Florida, UCLA, Purdue, USF and UCF to name a few.

“I’m expecting my next two offers to come from Indiana and San Diego St.,” Harrell told Deep South Recruiting. “I met UF head coach Will Muschamp yesterday, he said he wants to see my face around campus more. I’ve visited UCF, USF, and Florida, but I’m still wide open, no frontrunners yet. It’s going to be a difficult decision, because not only do I have to pick a position, but a program that wants me at that position.” Georgia has offered him as a RB and multiple others like him at safety. There may be opportunities at certain programs for Harrell to play both ways.

Harrell also mentioned the Tampa Catholic staff expects college coaches by the dozens in the spring to scout him and teammate 2014 OL Corey Martinez (6’4, 290) and a multitude of underclassmen. TJ Harrell Junior Film

– 2014 RB Joseph Ledet (6’0, 208, 4.49/40) of South Beauregard HS in Louisiana is receiving interest from programs all across the country. He’s heard from Duke, Mississippi St., LSU, and ULL most recently. “I spoke to a coach from Duke, and they’re ready for me to visit, so I’m beginning the process of setting that up.”

In the last few weeks, Ledet has emerged as a prospect that will command serious attention from college recruiters. “I’ve been selected to the Louisiana Bootleggers 7-on-7 team. Guys like Trey Quinn and Jacory Washington are on the team, so playing with top prospects like them is a tremendous honor. I’ve also been selected to the NUC100 Combine and I’ll play for Team USA next month.”

South Beaugard’s senior-to-be bears watching and is a prospect on the rise. Here’s his junior film: Joseph Ledet Highlights

– 2013 CB Barry Higdon (6’3, 185, 4.4/40) of Chaminade Madonna has verbally committed to Hawaii. Higdon visited Honolulu last weekend and that put the Warriors over the top. “It’s paradise. I love the atmosphere and the location. The people are awesome, the coaching staff is great, and the fact that they were on me throughout the process told me they really wanted me to be a Warrior. Head coach Norm Chow is a great coach and I can’t wait to play for him. We spoke a lot during my visit, and I think Hawaii is the best place for me to be.”

Higdon talked about his chances of playing early. “Coach Chow said if I come in, work hard, there’s a good chance I’ll play right away. He told me come in with the mindset to work hard, learn the system quickly.”

One of his goals as a freshman at Hawaii is to step on the field early. “I want to contribute right away, and I eventually want to bring Hawaii their first Jim Thorpe Award.”

– 2014 QB Alin Edouard (6’2, 185, 4.49/40) of Hialeah HS is getting interest from Cincinnati, Boston College, and Louisville, among others.

He recently attended the Under Armour Combine. “It was awesome, I had a really good time. Getting coaching from former NFL quarterbacks was exciting,” he said. “I felt I performed at a high level, that I stood out. We worked on taking the snap from center, my drops, my touch and accuracy when I throw the ball, and reading defenses.”

Named 2nd Team All-Dade by the Miami Herald, Edouard will compete for a spot on the Florida Fire 7-on-7 team February 2nd. “We have tryouts coming up, so I’m getting ready for that. We’ll also travel to visit schools unofficially again this summer like we did last summer. We’ll go to Ole Miss, South Carolina, FSU, Memphis, and hopefully Oregon.” Although he plans on camping at Miami this summer, Edouard reports no contact recently from UM. Alin Edouard Junior Film

– Michael Bradley

2014 OLB/SS/RB TJ Harrell Talks Recruiting

Harrell has been invited to the US Army All-American Combine

TJ Harrell Junior highlights

2014 OLB/SS/RB TJ Harrell (6’0, 203, 4.6) of Tampa Catholic in Florida has seen his recruitment hit new highs. He claims 11 verbal offers, including Georgia, Florida, FAU, FIU,  UCF, Michigan St.Purdue, and UCLA. Monday evening, he received big news: he got word that he would be invited to the US Army All-American combine to compete with the nation’s best prospects.

Harrell has 425 yards rushing and eight scores, and 50 tackles, three forced fumbles, four sacks, and three blocked punts on defense and special teams.

Central Florida is the latest to offer Tampa Catholic’s versatile young athlete. Despite the 11 offers, Harrell says he doesn’t have any favorites. “Not yet, I’m still taking visits. I’ve been to see Florida, Miami, UCF, and USF. I’m looking forward to seeing Georgia, UCLA, and Michigan St. after the season is over.”

Harrell talked about the programs he has been able to see recently. “I went to Miami this summer after I visited FAU and FIU. I was impressed with the campus in Coral Gables, to be honest. Miami is making additions to their campus, and we saw what it will all look like when they’re done. It’s going to be nice,” he said. “I also got to see the track facilities, speak to the coaches, it was an awesome visit.”

UCF hosted Harrell last weekend and he shared his experience with Deep South Recruiting. “They won a double-overtime game over Southern Miss, 38-31. It was a crazy atmosphere. I was impressed with their facilities, too.”

South Florida has also brought in the talented prospect for an unofficial visit. “I really liked Raymond James Stadium, especially the surface. USF plays a lot of TV games, plays in front of national audiences. I like that.”

Harrell has been invited by the Gators staff to attend the Florida/South Carolina game. “I expect it to be a crazy game. It’s a great matchup, looking forward to seeing it.”

Tampa Catholic is 6-1 on the season and is gearing up for a trip to the playoffs. “We have Alonso and Jesuit left. We’ll have to see what seed we get and see how the rest of the season shakes out,” Harrell said. “If we stay in this mindset we’re in, I absolutely think we can win a state championship. We have what it takes.”

– Michael Bradley

2014 Tampa Catholic ATH Offered by Florida, Georgia

2012 TJ Harrell Highlights

2014 ATH TJ Harrell (6’1, 200, 4.6/40) of Tampa Catholic in Florida has been offered by Florida and most recently Georgia. They join South Alabama, FAU, FIU, Houston, and UCLA. He’s also being recruited by Miami, Michigan St., Auburn, Mississippi St., Vanderbilt, and Ole Miss among numerous others. “Coach Bryan McClendon, Georgia’s running back coach, told me he liked my most recent film, he saw that I was a bigger guy and that I run track, am a guy that can make plays from the backfield.”

Harrell told Deep South Recruiting that he’s being recruited for three different positions. “Georgia offered me as a running back, UCLA wants me as an outside linebacker, and Florida wants me as a hybrid safety/outside linebacker,” he said. “I think I have a better chance to have a professional career as a defender, but I have some time to make that choice.”

Tampa Catholic’s talented athlete says he already has unofficial visits planned. “I’m thinking about making a trip to Michigan St. and I plan on going to the Florida-LSU game (Gainesville). That’s all I’m working on at this point.”

He doesn’t have any frontrunners currently. “I’m keeping my options open and I don’t have any favorites right now.”

Harrell said that playing football close to home won’t be factored into his final decision. “It doesn’t matter, whatever I feel is best for me is what I’ll do. I’ll talk to my family, we’ll decide on the quality of the academics and football program, and make the best decision we feel is best.”

He has a 3.0 GPA and is deciding between majoring in psychology and sports medicine.

Harrell feels he’s performed well so far this season. “I have five total touchdowns, blocked three punts, three sacks, three tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles,” he said. “I feel like I’m getting better, but I feel I have room for improvement in every aspect of my game.”

– Michael Bradley

*Editor’s note: TJ was offered by Purdue today

2014 SS/OLB/RB TJ Harrell, Tampa Catholic HS, Florida

2014 SS/OLB/RB TJ Harrell (6’0, 203, 4.67/40) of Tampa Catholic HS claims a verbal offer from South Alabama. He hears frequently from UCLA, Michigan St., Indiana, Miami, Florida, and Vanderbilt among others. He will see action on both sides of the ball this season. “I played some running back in the spring game. I rushed for 152 yards, broke a 68-yard touchdown run. I expect to start there this fall.”

Harrell also excels in track, running the 100 and 200M, and high jumps. “I ran 10.72 in the 100M, a 22.2 in the 200M, and I high jumped six feet, two inches.”

Later this summer, he will attend the HSPD 7-on-7 in Indianapolis.

Tampa Catholic’s talented athlete feels he has multiple strengths on the football field. “My speed and technique are my best attributes,” he said. “I feel like if I can perfect my technique and dominate my opponent with it, I’ll throw him off guard. I like to use different moves and techniques to confuse my opponents.”

Harrell said he’s working on improving his leadership skills. “I want to take a greater leadership role. I feel like I have to step up and be able to put the team on my back better than I did last season.”

The prospect of early playing time will influence his college choice. “I plan on competing for a starting job right away. I’ll learn the defense as fast as possible, continue to work on getting stronger and faster, and acclimate myself to the college game so I can play as a freshman.”

Harrell told Deep South Recruiting that relationships and a comfortable, family atmosphere will be important when making his decision. “The player/coach relationship is important. He teaches, I learn. He gives advice, I take it. I’ll be learning as much as I can from him, so trust will be important as well,” he said. “I’m also looking for a team and family atmosphere. I want to see how the players and coaches get along, how they treat each other.”

Academics will play a major role in his recruitment. “I have a 2.9 GPA right now, but I’m working to bring that up. I want to major in psychology or sports medicine.”

Harrell would prefer to play his college football out of state. “I want to leave Florida, actually. I want to leave home and see what else is out there for me.”

– Michael Bradley