That has been the case with Fort Mead standout Onterrio McCalebb this spring as several schools have already offered the talented tailback. With his combination of size, speed and football skills, the list will likely continue to grow through the spring and into the summer.
"He's similar to one of our former players speed-wise right now that played for UF the last few years, Jemalle Cornelius," Fort Meade High Coach Mike Hayde says. "They are in the same category. They had very similar junior years. Pretty much, in the track and field events, they are almost carbon copies of each other as juniors. Jemalle was around a 10.6 or 10.5 100 when he was a junior and a low 4.4 at the combines. That's what Onterio has been doing this spring.
"At the Nike Combine he had the second-fastest time. It was raining at Dr. Phillips and he ran in the 4.4's. Ole Miss timed him at a 4.41 last summer. We time him, hand-timed at our track, in the low 4.4s. He ran a 10.6 100 at a track meet last week at Kathleen and beat two running backs from Polk County that signed with big schools, Bilal Powell (Louisville) from Lake Gibson and Chris Rainey from Lakeland who is going to Florida."
At 5-11, 170 with breakaway speed and good hands, McCalebb is expected to be one of the top players in Florida for next season and his junior numbers back that up. At tailback McCalebb rushed the ball 127 times for 1,421 yards (11.2 yards per carry) and had 17 touchdowns.
As a receiver he caught 23 passes for 448 yards (19.5 avg.) for six touchdowns. He also added five punt returns for 95 yards and a touchdown and 13 kickoff returns for 367 yards (28.2 avg.) with a score. Hayde says the numbers tell the story on McCalebb, who does everything for Fort Meade.
"Onterio is a multi-purpose back," Hayde says. "He has been an I-Formation tailback, he has been a slot receiver, he has been a X and a H receiver, he has returned kickoffs and punts. He's very versatile. He's a good running back. He runs the inside and outside zone real well. He's good in the power game. We've lined him up everywhere the last two years to get him the ball."
McCalebb's first offer came from Ole Miss and in the last week he has added offers from both West Virginia and most recently Auburn with schools such as Kentucky, Central Florida and others also showing interest. Hayde says that most colleges are recruiting him as a running back who could help as a receiver and also a return man. He thinks his star player's versatility is his biggest selling point at this point in the recruiting game and it makes him a player to watch heading into the 2007 season.
"I think he's going to have to get bigger to be a pure, I-Formation, SEC tailback," Hayde says. "He is gaining size and strength. I could also see him lining up like Percy Harvin at Florida and doing those types of things. He's on track right now. I compare him and Cornelius because they are speed guys. He's doing the same type things that Jemalle did as a running back, receiver, defensive back, punt returner.
"I think he's going to have a great senior year. He's a very good athlete. I like the way he catches the ball. If you watch him on film he caught quite a few passes down the field this year. If you throw him a quick screen or bubble screen he's also got the ability to make people miss and take it the distance."