Starling Lays The Wood

Heading into his 18th season at national powerhouse Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln High, and his fourth year as head coach, Kyle Rice has seen his fair share of hard-hitting safeties in a Trojans uniform.

Four-star prospect Jawanza Starling is as good as anybody Rice has worked with.

"There is not a whole lot I don't love," Rice said about Starling's game. "He's as physical a safety as we've had, and we've had some guys that would come up and knock you out.

"Jawanza loves that aspect of playing football," Rice continued. "He has great cover skills, great instincts, great vision. He plays the ball well when it's in the air, and he's great in run support because he loves contact so much.

"A very coachable kid, great manners, all the different intangibles you want. He's versatile, plays receiver, returns kicks. We thought about playing him at quarterback, but that probably won't happen."

A two-year starter heading into his senior year, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Starling had 88 tackles, five forced fumbles and an interception last fall. His play has resulted in over 40 scholarship offers.

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"Most everybody that has been through here has offered," Rice stated.

One of those programs is Notre Dame, and the Irish have made Starling's initial cut. The other colleges Starling is still considering is Florida, Florida State, Miami, USC, LSU, Michigan, Stanford, Auburn, Alabama and Georgia.

"As far as talking to him about what do you think about this school and what do you think about that, that's not really my role, and I try and stay away from that as much as possible," Rice began. "I do know academics are going to be very important to him. Academically, Notre Dame is up there with the best of them. I know that will have some influence in him making his decision."

Starling's GPA is hovering around a 4.0, and he is being recruited by Notre Dame assistant coach Bernie Parmalee.

"He came down in the spring, was here and visited." Rice said. "He's an awesome guy. We love visiting with him when he comes down. We haven't talked in a little while. I think he was pretty excited about Jawanza, and the prospect of him coming up to Notre Dame."

Rice isn't sure what timetable Starling has setup as far as making a verbal commitment goes.

"I know they were planning on taking some unofficial visits around the area," Rice said of the family. "I don't know if they've done that or are planning on doing that. As far as visits in the fall, if he's thought about them he hasn't expressed that to me."

Perhaps Notre Dame will be a destination.


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