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December 19, 2003

Miami Carol City Loaded

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Walt Frazier has built quite a dynasty over the years at Miami (Fla.) Carol City High School. In his time there, he has taken Carol City to the playoffs 15 times and won three state titles, his most recent coming last week with his team's dominating performance over another 6A powerhouse, Orlando Edgewater.

Carol City has always been stacked with top talent and this year is no different. Leading the way for Carol City were senior linebackers Willie Williams and Vernon Wilder, senior offensive lineman Akeem Robinson and junior defensive back Kenneth Phillips.

While Williams, one of the nation's top recruits, was swamped by reporters at the end of the championship game, he was not saying anything about recruiting. But his teammate Phillips was just glad that Williams wasn't playing for the opposition.

"I love that guy," Phillips said. "He played a major role in this game. I am so proud. I was glad that he is on our team and not theirs."

Don't think it is to early to introduce Phillips as a top prospect in the class of 2005. The 6-2, 192-pound defensive back is going to be a highly sought after prospect as soon as Signing Day concludes for the class of 2004. But Phillips isn't thinking about recruiting just yet but is glad to be regarded as one of Florida's best juniors.

"It feels real good but I don't really think about it that much," Phillips said. "The only thing that was on my mind was getting here and playing with my teammates."

One of his teammates who played a key role in the game was Wilder. Despite the lack of statistical prowess in the game, Wilder was certainly a force to be reckoned with and freed up many opportunities for Williams to shine in the game.

"This puts the icing on the cake," Wilder said. "I felt this team was destined to win it."

Like many of the other seniors playing in the state championships, recruiting hasn't been the first thing on Wilder's plate during the season but is ready for recruiting now.

"Right now recruiting season hasn't really started for me," Wilder said. "I haven't been really paying attention. But there are a lot of teams I am thinking about - Miami, Kansas State, Wake Forest, Tulane and Florida."

But Colorado State, Penn State and Michigan State are the only teams to offer, Wilder said.

Wilder was one of many high school seniors to attend Florida's Rising Senior Camp in July. Wilder left the camp with good vibes from the Florida coaches. But the Florida coaches have not been in touch with Wilder as much as he would have liked.

"They haven't really talked to me much," Wilder said.

But he performed well in front of a handful of Florida coaches including Florida head coach Ron Zook, which Wilder thinks could help his chances to land an offer from Florida.

"Yeah it helps," Wilder said.

Wilder attended the Rising Senior camp with about six of his Carol City teammates, including Robinson.

Robinson had a very tough assignment in the championship game, as he had the task of stopping Edgewater senior defensive lineman Aaron Jones Jr. and the rest of the Edgewater defensive line.

"He is a great kid," Robinson said. "We just had to start driving like it was sled and that is what we started to do. Edgewater is a great team but in the game of football there unfortunately has to be a winner and a loser."

Robinson was uncertain about the recruiting process before the state championship game but now that he has a state title to his accreditation, it could help him out along the recruiting trail.

"Recruiting was confusing but right now with this ring, it is going to make it little bit more sweeter so I will just take it all in right now," Robinson said. "Right now Rutgers has offered me, University of South Florida and the University of Florida is talking to me about something."

Robinson has scheduled official visits with Clemson on Jan. 9 (no offer), South Florida on Jan. 16, Rutgers on Jan. 23 and Florida on Jan. 30. With his stellar performance in the state championship game in front of the Florida coaches, he might just receive that offer before his official visit to Florida.

"I don't know but after this game right here though, who knows," Robinson said. "They (Florida) are looking at me for offensive line and after this game here, I might make them smile a little bit bigger."

Robinson definitely enjoyed playing in The Swamp, in front of thousands of Carol City fans.

"Oh man it felt good," Robinson said. "To us this is a packed house but I can imagine this place being filled up. The atmosphere was awesome. It was off the charts."

But Robinson is far from ending the recruiting process.

"I am far from over," Robinson said. "Because right now I was confused, I am still a little bit. But it is going to make it sweeter when I look down and look at my ring finger. But I am just going to take it all in right now and see what is going on from everywhere."


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