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August 2, 2001

Florida Duo Still Wide Open

Much of the recruiting success Purdue has enjoyed under Coach Joe Tiller has taken place in the steamy heat of Texas. However, the Boilermakers would love to reel in a couple of big-time prospects from the Sunshine State this year.

Tiller and his staff will attempt to secure verbal commitments from at least a handful of Floridians, namely quarterback/athlete Chris Davis, wide receivers Ryan Moore and Richard Washington, linebacker Buster Davis and defensive backs Mike Ross and Nate Sally. While there are countless talented players in Florida, Purdue hasn't landed one since 1999 when safety Melvin Scurry and wideout Chris James both chose the Old Gold and Black. James saw action as a true freshman but struggled this past fall as a sophomore. Scurry left campus for junior college shortly after his arrival, but didn't last long at Coffeyville Community College, either.

In 1998, running back Jeremy Thomas committed to Purdue but returned home shortly after fall camp began.

Obviously the coaching staff's past investments in Florida haven't been great, but that won't prevent them from attempting to lure some of the state's top players to West Lafayette this year.

The Boilermakers are more visible than ever following the Drew Brees era and a trip to the Rose Bowl, but can the defending Big Ten champions out-recruit some of the South's top programs? That remains to be seen.

During the next few weeks, you'll be introduced to some of the top prospects from Florida and see what their interest is in the Boilermakers.

Today we'll start with a pair of super athletes from St. Petersburg Catholic High School. Davis is an exceptional talent who could play numerous positions in college, but this fall he'll again lead his team from behind center.

Davis, a 6-foot, 170-pounder with 4.4 speed, helped his squad finish 7-3 last year. He passed for 1,500 yards and rushed for almost 1,300. Those numbers drew the attention of nearly every major college. Davis has scholarship offers from Miami, Florida, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Purdue, Boston College and many others.

"I am pretty open," Davis told Gold & Black Illustrated. "All the schools are pretty much the same. Hopefully by the end of the season I'll be able to make a decision. I want a school with great atmosphere and great coaches."

That shouldn't be a difficult request to fulfill. Davis admitted he doesn't know much about Purdue and that he has a lot to learn about each school that's offered him.

"I would say Purdue is one of the best so far, though," Davis said.

Perhaps one of the deciding factors for Davis will be where teammate and best friend, Michael Ross, ends up. Ross plays on the opposite side of the ball than Davis and is a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.

Standing 6-0 and 180 pounds, Ross uses his 4.5 speed to rush off the corner and get to the backfield. As a junior he had 11 sacks to accompany his 117 tackles. He also blocked five kicks. Ross, who plays linebacker and defensive end for his team, figures to play safety in college.

Where Ross will opt to go remains to be seen, as well. His top four include Purdue, USC, Virginia Tech and Boston College.

"I want to play for someone who wants me," said Ross, who has a 2.8 GPA and a 960 on the SAT. "I really like Purdue to tell you the truth. I like their secondary coach (Ken Greene), he obviously wants what's best for his players."

Ross has never been to Indiana so he is eager to take a trip to the Heartland. But he also wants to visit other schools, too.

"Virginia is the closest to me and I've been through there but never stopped at any schools," Ross said. "I like USC's coaches, so hopefully I'll trip there, too."

Both players will likely wait until December before narrowing their options even more. Stay tuned to goldandblack.com for more of Florida's top prospects in the coming weeks.

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