PrepZone Preview: National Signing Day
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Photo by COREY PERRINE, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo
Photo by DAVID ALBERS // Buy this photo
Photo by DAVID ALBERS, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo
Two of Southwest Florida's biggest high school football stars have made their college choices a week ahead of National Signing Day.
Naples High running back Manny Morgan verbally committed to the University of Akron, while Immokalee defensive tackle Deadrin Senat agreed to play for South Florida. Both will make their decisions official Wednesday, the first day the NCAA allows high school seniors to sign national letters of intent.
Golden Eagles coach Bill Kramer confirmed Morgan's commitment Wednesday morning. Akron was the only Division I team to offer the Naples standout a scholarship despite rushing for 4,546 yards the past three seasons.
"I hope he uses it as motivation," Kramer said of Morgan's lack of Division I offers. "I hope he plays with a chip on his shoulder. The goal needs to be to prove all those guys wrong."
Senat had offers from the biggest Bowl Championship Series teams in the country. He picked USF over 25 other BCS schools. The Tampa Bay Times reported Senat's commitment on Monday night.
Morgan and Senat were unavailable for comment. Immokalee athletic director Tony Allen did not return calls to his cellphone Wednesday.
A 6-foot-1, 311-pound defensive tackle, Senat was one of the first players in Immokalee's talented Class of 2013 to receive national recruiting attention. He verbally committed to Florida State in February 2012 before decommitting three months later.
Since then Senat has taken official visits to USF, South Carolina and North Carolina State, as well as unofficial trips to Miami, Florida State and Central Florida.
While Senat has fielded offers from all over the nation, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound Morgan has played the waiting game.
After rushing for 2,069 yards and 25 touchdowns his senior year, Morgan is second all-time on Naples' unofficial career rushing list. He joins 2002 graduate Duane Coleman as the only Golden Eagles running backs to notch three 1,000-yard seasons.
And yet Morgan didn't receive a single BCS offer. New Mexico State and Football Championship Subdivision school Youngstown State were the only other schools to show serious interest.
"You would like FAU or UCF or whoever would offer to keep him in state," Kramer said. "That's fine ... I'm proud of Manny Morgan, and I look forward to following his career."
Senat is among a group of five Immokalee players expected to sign with BCS schools on National Signing Day. Running back Jacky Marcellus is committed to West Virginia, while quarterback Tshumbi Johnson is committed to Cincinnati.
Twin brothers Mackenro and Mackensie Alexander also will sign, Allen said, but have not picked their schools. Both expect to play defensive back. ESPN ranks Mackensie Alexander as the No. 4 senior recruit in the country, and reported that Mississippi State was in town Wednesday. Mackensie has visited Clemson, Texas A&M, the Bulldogs, and Auburn; Mackenro has visited Mississippi State, Kentucky and West Virginia.
Also on Wednesday, another area recruit announced he would not be joining Senat at USF. South Fort Myers two-way lineman Joe Fennell originally committed to Western Kentucky, then switched when Hilltoppers coach Willie Taggart took the job at USF.
Now Wolfpack coach Grant Redhead says the 6-4, 300-pound Fennell is switching back to Western Kentucky.
"Joe is going back to Western Kentucky because the academic programs suit him better," Redhead said.
Both Morgan and Senat were highly decorated following their senior seasons. Morgan was a Class 6A All-State first team selection, while Senat made the first team in 5A.
Morgan won the Daily News Broxson Award as the area's best overall football player. Senat was the Daily News Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 and was an all-area selection this season.
Senat had 89 tackles and three sacks this season for Immokalee, which finished runner-up in 5A. Senat also played offensive tackle.
Staff writer Kevin Johnson contributed to this report.