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February 8, 2005Though signing day 2005 has not been gone even a week, Rivals.com is ahead of the game as Southeast recruiting analyst Jeremy Patterson will spend the first part of this week touring South Florida visiting high schools and evaluating some of the nation's top players.
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Welcome to Miami, home of hot cars, hot beaches, hot weather and about everything else spicy. For college coaches looking to spice up their offensive line, then Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas is the must-stop spot, as offensive tackle Sam Young is one of the most physically impressive lineman Rivals.com has seen in several years.
Young has a massive 6-foot-8, 280-pound frame that he carries unbelievably well. He is a monster offensive tackle, who has a tremendous work ethic and lives in the weight room. That is why it was fitting that he was interviewed on Monday at Perfect Competition, a center for athletic development where Young likes to get in extra reps in addition to his rigorous four-day-a-week training sessions at St. Thomas.
Some consider Young to be a lock for the nation's top offensive tackle.
Many colleges feel the same way and that is why he has already picked up some impressive scholarship offers.
"I have offers right now from Miami, Rutgers and Duke," Young said. "There are other schools that have told me that I would be getting an offer from them, too."
Obviously Young has great size, but there are other things that set him apart from other lineman around the country.
"Obviously I'm a pretty big guy so I would say that is one of my strengths," Young said. "In addition to that though I think that I have really good feet and mobility, I have spent a lot of time working on that. I try to pattern my game after Eric Winston from Miami. I have always been a big fan of his."
Young is going to have his pick from schools around the country and has some interesting family ties to the Big Ten.
"My whole family is from the Big Ten and a lot of them are big Penn State fans," Young said. "I took some unofficial visits up there this fall and that is definitely an area of the country I would look at. I am also interested in all three of the Florida schools, Michigan, Duke, Georgia and USC. I am still really open and taking everything in, obviously this list will probably change over time."
Young was named the all-state and all-county teams as a junior and unlike a lot of South Florida kids, cold weather won't factor into his decision.
"I love the cold weather, but this down here is also great," Young said. "East Coast or West Coast, distance does not matter to me at all. I would like to play early or at least be able to compete for playing time wherever I go."
HEATH HEAVY ON THE OFFERS
If Young isn't the top prospect in South Florida then West Palm Beach (Fla.) Palm Beach Lakes wide receiver/defensive back Brandon Heath should also be considered.
The 6-foot-0, 175-pound Heath has already picked up offers from West Virginia, Florida and NC State. He is hearing from just about every other school in the country as well.
"I will play either position in college, but I prefer defensive back," Heath said. "I compare myself to Sean Taylor because of the way I play. When you're out there playing football you have got to be hungry. My main thing is that I just like to make plays. No matter where I'm at I can make plays. When I'm on defense I love to hit and I love to put my nose on the ball and when I'm on offense I am just able to make people miss."
Heath, who admittedly grew up a fan of the Florida State Seminoles, lists West Virginia, NC State, Florida, Florida State and Miami as his favorites. Heath's coach Dan Sanso, doesn't have to be told what kind of player he has.
"Coaches have known about Brandon for two years now," Sanso said.
"He is a kid that just makes play after play. We have to find a way to get the ball in his hands even more this year. He is a tremendous leader on the field and a great young man of character off the field. There is plenty of trouble to get into around here, but he has managed to avoid all of that so far."
MORE NAMES MAKE MIAMI SPECIAL
Another prospect in the Palm Beach area who is going to be grabbing headlines in recruiting circles over the next year is Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlantic Community wide receiver Preston Parker.
The 6-foot-0, 175-pound Parker runs the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds, has a 4.1 second shuttle and has a 30-inch vertical jump. He has yet to pick up his first offer, but is hearing from schools nationwide.
"I'm a hype player," Parker said. "Every time I step on the field I come ready to play, every time I touch the ball I want to make something happen. I compare myself to Andre Johnson because I'm thick and I like to use my size and speed to bully people around."
As a junior he caught 23 passes for 450 yards and earned all-county honors.
"I grew up loving the Canes," Parker said. "They would be my first choice, but USC would be my second choice. I like the style and system they play out there. I love the aggressive style of defense that Georgia plays and I want to play defensive back on the next level, so I think I would fit in well there."
Like Heath, Parker grabbed most of headlines as a wide receiver, but thinks he would project as a defensive back on the next level and prefers to play the defensive side of the ball.
"I really don't want to red-shirt, I want to be able to go in and fight for playing time no matter where I go," Parker said. "I want to major in theater because I want to be an actor and I also love math."
Atlantic quarterback Mark McGraw may not be a name many are familiar with yet, but he will be grabbing the attention of college coaches as well.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound McGraw runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds and his coach thinks he has a tremendous upside.
"Right now he is still in the development stages," Atlantic head coach Cris Bean said.
"He has all the physical ability, and it's more about trying get him in the right mindset. We want to make him more cerebral. He has a very strong arm and can do so many things with his feet. We are going to put in more plays this year to play to his strengths."
West Palm Beach (Fla.) Palm Beach Gardens linebacker Emmanuel Cook is another name that the nation needs introducing to. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound linebacker runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, has a 4.3 shuttle and has a 28-inch vertical jump.
"My favorite team growing up was Florida State," Cook said.
"I like to compare myself to Derrick Brooks because I am a hype player and a team leader. I think most guys look up to me a as a player. I have a lot of closing speed to the ball."
Cook is receiving mail from the likes of Georgia, South Florida, Central Florida, Rutgers, Iowa, NC State, Ohio State and Navy. Growing up in Florida though he longs for letters to come flowing in from Florida State and Miami.
"Florida State would be my favorite, but I like Miami a lot as well," Cook said. "I really like Georgia and the way they have such a fast defense. I know a couple of guys at NC State, Willie Young and Dejuan Morgan and they tell me it is great up there. There is a part of me that wouldn't mind getting out of Florida."