Fort Myers’ Cayden Baker and Yasias Young and Cypress Lake’s CJ Shedd are Offensive Player of the Year finalists. The News-Press
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, many Southwest Florida high school football standouts have seen their recruiting journeys accelerate quite a bit, with many local products picking up offers.
That group is led by Lehigh running back Richard Young.
Wednesday afternoon, Tom Lemming of CBS Sports released his position rankings for the Class of 2023. Lemming had Young ranked as the No. 1 running back in the nation.
In April, the rising sophomore received six offers. Five of those were from SEC programs. With Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss, South Carolina, and Texas A&M entering the fold, Young now has offers from 64% of the SEC. Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt have not yet offered the rising star.
"I’m handling (the recruiting process) well," Young said. "It’s a blessing. I’m just blessed."
Georgia has had major success of running backs making it to the NFL. That list includes Todd Gurley (Falcons), Nick Chubb (Browns), Sony Michel (Patriots), and most recently, D'Andre Swift, who was selected by the Detroit Lions with the 35th pick in this year's NFL Draft. Rising sophomore Zamir White could follow in Swift's footsteps once he becomes draft eligible.
"Going there came across my mind," Young said. "I would follow in their foot steps because they have some of the greatest running backs in the league."
Young has already had a good May, with head coach Ed Orgeron and the national champion LSU Tigers extending an offer, and Tennessee following suit on Monday.
This isn't the first time LSU has made an offer to a Lehigh running back. The Tigers offered Chris Curry in early March of 2017. Fast forward three months later, Curry announced his commitment to play in Baton Rouge.
"It was amazing receiving the LSU offer," Young said. "I was just shocked because I didn’t see it coming. It was just a huge blessing."
Young and University School wide receiver Brandon Inniss have been piling up the offers lately. Thus far, Inniss has 23 offers, while Young is sitting at 21 offers.
The freshman caught multiple touchdowns and showed off his athleticism en route to winning Tournament MVP honors. Inniss also answered a few questions. The News-Press
"We both work hard together," Young said. "He's like a brother to me. We talk every day to grind ever since sixth grade. We've always stayed humble and help each other out to get better."
Naples DB Devin Moore picks up more Power Five offers
It was a quiet eight months for the Golden Eagles defensive back, until he received an offer from Florida State in January.
From there, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia followed. Just this week, Moore also received an offer from Justin Fuente and the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Moore went up to Tallahassee and took an unofficial visit to FSU's campus in early March, just before the coronavirus pandemic.
"I visited a day earlier than their junior day, but the visit was amazing," Moore said. "Great town, great coaches, great campus, and great people. We even ate at their little cafeteria and that honey fried chicken hit the spot."
When Adam Fuller took the defensive coordinator position on Mike Norvell's staff in December, Moore was the first recruit Fuller reached out to.
"It definitely carried some weight when I heard that," Moore said. "(FSU) has revealed to me I’m very high on their list and I am a player they need at their college."
Moore is transitioning back to cornerback this season, which was his initial position. He models his game after two former FSU products — Jalen Ramsey and Derwin James — while also following LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.'s game closely. Stingley, a consensus All-American, had six interceptions as a freshman in 2019.
"I believe I have plenty of room to grow," Moore added. "With the length, speed, and covering ability, I believe I have the potential to be a total lockdown corner."
Lehigh playmaker announces top six schools
Another Lehigh star has announced a list via Twitter featuring his top six schools.
The list for Tarvarish Dawson, who plays both sides of the ball for the Lightning, features Auburn, Louisville, Miami, Minnesota, South Carolina, and UCF.
This is not Dawson's final six. Should other schools make an offer to the rising senior, the recruiting race could change relatively quickly.
Auburn and Minnesota squared off in the Outback Bowl earlier this year, with the Golden Gophers prevailing 31-24. Between the two schools, 11 players were selected in this year's NFL Draft. Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown was the highest selected Tiger, going seventh overall to the Carolina Panthers. Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield Jr. was selected in the second round, going 45th overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"What I like about those schools is that they talk about me play both sides," Dawson said.
According to Dawson, Louisville is also looking for Dawson to play both ways. Miami views him as a defensive back, while UCF and South Carolina want him as a wide receiver.
"I’m trying to win the Heisman," Dawson said.
Palmetto Ridge standouts pick up Power Five offers
Jaden Booker has only played varsity football for one season, but he's continuing to boost his resumé. The rising sophomore has picked up offers from Nebraska and Georgia Tech in the month of April.
Booker ran the ball 217 times for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry on the ground.
Meanwhile, Kamonte Grimes received his first offer in over a month when the Wisconsin Badgers came calling, hoping that Grimes would be the second Southwest Florida recruit to commit there. Lehigh linebacker Jake Chaney announced his decision to play for the Big Ten powerhouse in mid-March.
Grimes was a big play threat downfield for the Bears, hauling in 28 receptions for 578 yards with five touchdowns. He averaged 20.6 yards per reception.
Ida Baker rising sophomore picks up FAU, Tennessee
Another rising sophomore has made a splash in the recruiting world. Levontai Summersett received offers from FAU and Tennessee.
These are the second and third offers for the rising sophomore. Summersett had a respectable freshman campaign at Oasis last season, hauling in 16 receptions for 225 yards and a touchdown. Miami was Summersett's first Division I offer back in late January.
Summersett's presence was more felt on the defense for the Sharks. He had 61 total tackles (41 solo), while intercepting three passes and recovering a fumble. Summersett took back one of those interceptions for a touchdown.
"When I got those offers I was very happy," Summersett said. "Now I know that all the hard work I’ve been putting in is starting to pay off."
Summersett went to a Georgia Tech camp along with Young and Dunbar cornerback Shawn Russ. He was the only one who didn't come away with an offer. Even Mack Mitchell —Summersett's head coach at Oasis — was stunned.
"That motivated me a lot because those are my boys," Summersett said. "I was happy they got it and it showed me that I could be getting those type of offers too."
Miami views Summersett as an athlete, while FAU and Tennessee believe his best days ahead are at the safety position.
"Last year was just the beginning and it was a good year," Summersett said. "These next years are going to be great, so stay tuned."
Immokalee DB finds new home after closure of Urbana
It didn't take long for Pierre Percial to find a new home.
Only 13 days.
Percial announced his commitment Monday evening to play for Pittsburg State in Kansas, which is situated right on the state line next to Missouri. The campus is two hours south of Kansas City.
"Thirteen days felt like 13 years," Percial said. "However, all the coaches who reached out and were recruiting me made the process very smooth. I’m very relieved and comfortable on my decision. Pittsburg State was always high in my radar and when my little buzz calmed down a little, I knew I wasn’t going to receive much more traction.
"It was time to choose the best option and I think I made that. Hopefully this is the last time I have to open my recruitment."
Bishop Edwards would have been one of Percial's teammates at Urbana. They will be playing together at Pittsburg State.
"That didn’t have anything to do with my decision," Percial said. "However I’m excited to strap up with one of my Blue Knight brothers in the jungle."