Another Dade Sleeper Emerging

When watching tape of Coral Gables High, it's not hard to notice the quality play of middle linebacker Darryl Sharpton. Coming from the same school as former UM linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Sharpton knows what it's like to feel high expectations.

"All I know is that I wanna help this team win a district championship," Sharpton said. "That's something we haven't done here in about six or seven years. I've heard people talk about me and Vilma but all that doesn't really matter. I gotta be myself and do my own thing out there."

The talented linebacker prospect resembles Vilma at that age in many ways. He's an outstanding student inside the classroom, having already qualified with an 1180 SAT score. He takes great pride in his ability to breakdown opposing offenses.

"I watch a lot of film," he said. "I'm always trying to gain the edge by knowing the competition."

He did that well as a junior last season, registering 113 total tackles. He'll be entering his fourth year as a starter at linebacker.

"I actually started playing football when I was eight," he said. "I've been a linebacker all but one year, when I tried fullback. I still play some running back in certain packages but I'm mainly a linebacker first."

Sharpton said he believes he's one of the best around.

"I'm faster than most of the top linebackers I see," he said. "I just have a way of finding the ball better. I just overpower people out there and I don't think too many guys can match my intensity on the field."

Sharpton, who is now 215 pounds on his 6-0 frame, played last year at under 200 so he's ready for an even bigger breakout season.

"We get it going this week and I can't wait," he said. "Our first real game is next Thursday against South Miami."

Sharpton, who runs the 400m and 800m events during track season, hasn't been getting a whole lot of press coverage but college coaches know about him.

"It's about to start heating up again real soon because the coaches can start calling again next week," he said. "Back in the spring I got a bunch of calls. Coaches have called, stopped by the school, different things like that."

The senior said he's keeping his options open at this point, especially since he hasnt yet received any scholarship offers.

"I'm looking at Stanford, Florida State, UM, Boston College, Kansas, and I wanna start talking to some Ivy League schools about those opportunities," he said. "Most of those called me in the spring. UM stopped by the school to see me. Hopefully they'll come check me out during the season."

Sharpton knows that Vilma wasn't offered a scholarship until midway through his senior season. He's hoping to catch UM's eye this fall.

"They really haven't been keeping in touch with me like some of the others," he said. "Hopefully they come check me out and I'll show 'em what I can do. Everyone wants to go to UM. It's close to home and they have a great program."

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