During the spring and into the summer, www.floridakids.us will bring you our IN THE HUDDLE segments with football players throughout the state of Florida.
These are similar to the evaluations we pass on to the hundreds of colleges who visit our website, call us on the phone and correspond via e-mail.
Here is another top football player to keep an eye on this season – and beyond.
PLAYER: Daron Rose
SCHOOL: Tampa Jefferson
40 SPEED: 5.4
HEAD COACH: Mike Simmonds
www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring Rating: 21
My relationship with Tampa Jefferson head coach Mike Simmonds has been one over the years that is based on respect. I admire the way he coaches and he has often told me that he likes the way I promote and evaluate the talent in this state.
While playing professional football will never totally prepare you to coach the sport, it does give you an insight in what to expect and what to teach your players as Simmonds, a one-time Tampa Bay Buccaneer, has found out.
During the summer of 2004, I ran into Coach Simmonds at a camp. It was then he told me that when I was rating my players for the Class of 2006, I needed to look at one of his linemen, who he felt could be as impressive an athlete as he's been around during his time coaching at the high school level.
When it comes to breaking down athletes, I always listen to people like Simmonds, because of the fact that being a lineman in the National Football League, he knows exactly what to look for in the potential of an up-and-coming prospect, especially one who plays the line.
Last year, I had the pleasure of watching three game films, one camp setting and two playoff games in which Rose competed. I added to that this past spring at the Scout.com University of South Florida Combine.
What I saw from watching Rose play is a lineman who could dominate when he wanted to, move quickly and learn how to become a very good pass blocker. Having the opportunity to compete in the playoffs two straight years, reaching the finals last season, only gave him the chance to further prove himself on the biggest stage in the state.
STRENGTHS: As I talked about pass blocking, I watched the way he improved so much last season after only three months.
I sat there in the South Region Final at Miami Monsignor Pace and followed Rose during seven plays. In each of those plays, he either kicked out and had the block that made the play possible – or at least had a hand in the success of the play.
Perhaps the play that defined his strength was a third down and seven from the Miami Pace 34. With time winding down in the game, Rose pulled out to the right on a sweep, felt the running back's hand direct him from behind. As he successfully knocked the defensive tackle out to the left, he then took on a linebacker, which was no match at all. The final two blocks on the run came against a cornerback and safety. Rose extended his arm and pushed the corner down to the ground and ended up running over the safety. The result was a 27-yard gain and the opportunity to give the Dragons the victory.
The very next week, in the 3A title game against Jacksonville Bolles, he showed his pass blocking skills on two different plays. With talented sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia in the pocket, Rose made sure that he did anything possible to protect his future standout. In the two plays, one that saw Garcia throw a 12-yard completion, and the other when he decided to run the ball, Rose was tremendous, showing speed and agility.
WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON: This is someone who seems to turn it on and off when he wants to. But at the next level, being on all the time will be important. Attitude is a huge part of playing the line at the college level.
While his run-blocking has been perfected with the type of offense Jefferson runs, it is now going to be vital to work on matching up against quicker, smaller defensive linemen who have presented some problems to him at times.
OVERALL: As I had the opportunity, at the Scout.com Combine in Tampa to watch him run, lift weights and go through various drills, I was convinced that this is certainly a top 25 player in this state.
Like some people who rate players, and are lost on how to really evaluate talent, especially with linemen who are so hard to project when they are at the high school level, Rose is a legitimate prospect, which is something that hundreds of colleges from around the nation continue to find out.
COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: While there have been many, many offers sent his way during the spring and into the summer, schools such as Florida, FSU, Michigan, USC, Notre Dame and the University of South Florida have taken the lead in the quest to land this standout.
IN THE HUDDLE: Daron Rose
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