RECRUITING: NFC's Yates Wants To Play 2 D-1 Sports

North Florida Christian School may be small in terms of school enrollment, but every year the Eagles are in the hunt for the Class A state football championship. A small student body doesn't mean the Eagles lack Division I prospects, either. Almost every year, NFC produces a handful of Division I signees. One of their top prospects for 2005 is Ricky Yates, a 6-5, 230-pound tight end who expects to play two sports at the next level.

Yates grew up loving and playing baseball, basketball and football. His athletic abilities come naturally as he's from an athletic family. His dad was also a multi-sport athlete.

"My dad played basketball and football," Yates said. "I play basketball and played baseball when I was younger. Football is my best sport right now."

He is an offensive player by trade and likes his home at tight end. He has never played on the defensive side of the ball. He loves playing tight end even if he might have been a bit under-utilized last season.

"I think catching the ball is my best skill, but I didn't get many chances," he said, reflecting on the 2004 season.

He may be seeing the ball more often this year. He's an experienced senior now and there's a new head coach (Pete Watkins) whose teams threw the ball regularly at his former high school in Palm Beach County.

Although coaching transitions can be tricky, Yates thinks NFC will still be one of the state's elite teams in 2005.

"I think we are pretty good," he said. "We should be better than last year. It just depends on who comes around."

Yates is doing well academically and he is expected to qualify easily for a Division I scholarship. Growing up in Tallahassee, it isn't too difficult to figure that his favorite college team is the Florida State Seminoles.

While he loves the Seminoles, his favorite player played for one of FSU's biggest rivals.

"Jeremy Shockey (University of Miami) was my favorite player," Yates said. "I like how he plays. He may not be the smartest guy off the field. I heard he is crazy, but on the field he runs the show."

Yates is already drawing interest from big name schools, including those that have quality football and basketball programs. Iowa, Alabama, North Carolina, and Stanford are just some of the schools that frequently mail letters of interest to the big tight end.

Playing both sports is very important to Yates and may be the single biggest thing that forms his decision on where to play.

"I want to play football and basketball," he said. "I'm not good enough to play serious basketball, but I could play at a small school."

If he attends a larger more football prominent school he added, "I want to play football and walk-on in basketball."

Ricky Yates is not a household name amongst recruitniks. His past experience hasn't produced the kind of statistics that draw the attention of recruiting services. That hasn't stopped a lot of big time schools from taking notice. He's got the size and the athletic ability to be a name to watch on signing day next February.

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