RECRUITING: Spikes Targeted Army Game

Brandon Spikes made up his mind that he wanted to play in the US Army All-American game in 2000 when he watched Derrick Johnson of Waco, Texas playing like he was a man among boys. Spikes will see his dream come true on January 7 when he lines up for the East team for the 2006 version of the US Army game in San Antonio.

(Brandon Spikes profile)

Johnson used the Army game as a springboard to his career. He went on to become a consensus All-American at Texas and in the 2005 NFL Draft, he was the first selection of the Kansas City Chiefs. Spikes, a 6-4, 230-pounder from Shelby (NC) Crest, can only hope that the game will have the same type of effect on his own career.

"It's a dream come true," Spikes said Thursday night. "Ever since I was young I wanted to play in it [Army game]. I just had to work hard so I could be selected to play in it. I can remember watching Derrick Johnson play in the game years ago."

When Spikes was chosen for the Army game, the whole school showed up for the ceremony along with some of the Shelby locals. Spikes is somewhat of a local hero who hails from the same school that years ago produced David Thompson, who led NC State to a national championship in basketball in 1974.

"There were a whole bunch of people, the whole school and a couple of people from the community came out," he said. "It was nice. They told me to expect a great time in San Antonio."

Crest has had a roller coaster of a season that has one game remaining. The team has qualified for the playoffs despite a break even record.

"It's been some ups and downs," he said. "We are 5-5 but in the playoffs. I missed the game before last because of a hip flexor. It just kept me out of one game but it's still nagging me a little bit. It will go away soon enough. Last week I had nine tackles a forced fumble, three tackles for loss and three pass deflections."

As a four-star rated recruit, everybody in the country is after him but Spikes has narrowed his list of favorites down to four schools. Three of those teams boast defenses that rank among the best in the country.

"I am looking at Florida, Virginia Tech, LSU, and Alabama," he said.

He talked about his favorite teams:

FLORIDA: "At Florida I have an opportunity to play early. The defense is nice. I love the coaching staff and players and it's beautiful down there. I have seen them every time they played this year. They run around and play with a lot of emotion. That's how I play. They are recruiting me as a Mike or Sam linebacker, probably a Mike."

VIRGINIA TECH: "Virginia Tech has a wining tradition and the number two defense in the country. They are just playing great ball on the defensive side."

LSU: "I like the defense at LSU too."

ALABAMA: "Alabama has a great defense too and three top linebackers."

Playing time is a main focus for Spikes as he prepares to get to the next level of competition. Each school has sold him on being able to come in early and help.

"None of the schools will be easy to step in early, but I will have the opportunity," he said. "Playing time is the most important thing. I just feel like I am ready to play mentally and physically. I just want the opportunity

Two of his visits are set up and the other two he will definitely take. Spikes told Miller Safrit of that he will announce his decision at the US Army All-American game on January 7. He will try to make his visits before the game.

"I am going to Virginia Tech this week when they play Miami," Spikes said. "I have an official visit set up to Alabama is next week when they play against LSU. I am for sure visiting Florida for the FSU game then I will take my official visit in December. I had the LSU visit scheduled for Auburn, but the hurricane messed that up, so I still have to reschedule that one."

Before his decision, it looks as if the Florida Gators will get a couple of more visits out of Spikes who has already been to Gainesville numerous times including a week long stint in the summer time. The Army All-American is a much needed commodity for the Florida Gators who are still paper thin at linebacker after a few recruiting seasons of not signing many.

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