RECRUITING: Heath Set For Fast Rise Up Charts

If his performance in last Wednesday's spring game is any indication of things to come in his senior year, then get ready for a meteoric rise up the recruiting charts for Palm Beach (FL) Lakes safety/wide receiver Brandon Heath. Heath scored a touchdown on each side of the ball in the spring game against Belle Glade. It's good news for the coaches at Palm Beach Lakes that Heath is so talented and versatile.

It might be a nightmare for coaches who are recruiting him because they will have to decide offense or defense?

Heath never came off the field in the spring game. With recruiters from FSU, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Alabama, South Carolina, UCF and a host of others in attendance, Heath put on a show, scoring offensively on a short pass and defensively on an interception.

"On offense, I was just basically trying to get in the end zone because it was a bubble screen," Heath said. "On defense, I read the quarterback's eyes and jumped the route and then all I was thinking was getting in the end zone."

Because he was on the field the whole game and it was a typically humid South Florida night, Heath had a few physical problems on the field.

"I started cramping and stuff," he said. "We didn't practice much because of a short week."

The cramping made him more determined to get in better physical condition for the fall. He realizes the value he has as a two-way player, and while most colleges will recruit him for either offense or defense, he wouldn't mind going both ways at the next level.

"I didn't come off the field all night, I just realized that," he said after the spring game. "I will be back in shape. I love playing both ways. I am going to try to do the same thing and play both ways (in college) like Champ Bailey."

He knows that if he intends to play at the next level he may indeed have to decide to concentrate on one side of the ball or the other. If he had to answer now, the choice might be too difficult.

"Hey, that is a hard decision," he said. "I like both of them. Every coach asks me that, but I like both of them"

That was a middle of the road answer, but when asked about is favorite schools, Heath replied with a little more certainty.

"I'd say Florida and Louisville are the favorites so far," he said. "I like how they spread the offense at Florida and that it is close to home. I love Florida and grew up being a Florida fan … those are key. Louisville was the number one offense in the nation, so that is why I like them."

Considering his numbers on offense during his junior season, there is no doubt why some schools envision him as a home run threat type of wide receiver. But, his defensive stats are nearly as impressive.

"On offense I had 32 catches for 610 yards and nine touchdowns," he said. "On defense I had nine tackles for loss, 40 tackles and three interceptions and one returned for a touchdown."

It has been a learning period for Heath this spring. Lakes has a new coaching staff for 2005 so the spring game was the first time to perform for the new coaches.

"We have a new coaching staff and new systems and all of that," he said. "Everyone fed off of it and we performed tonight."

He understands his role as a team leader. He has to lead both vocally and by example if the team is to play at a high level in the fall. Especially on defense, Heath knows that he can be a difference maker.

"I had two tackles for loss tonight," he said. "I think I hit and read the field well on defense. I love to put my nose on the ball. I am going to make the receivers feel me when they come across the middle. That is why I am a safety."

It is no surprise that a player with this kind of talent on either side of the ball is starting to see the scholarship offers pouring in. He goes home each day to find his mailbox full of letters. Almost all the Division I schools are in regular contact at least through the US Mail.

"I have offers from Florida, OU (Oklahoma), Penn State, Minnesota, NC State …" he said (I had to cut him off because I could tell the list was going to be long). "New offers are coming in every day."

While the recruiting process is limited at the moment, Brandon Heath is enjoying his 15 minutes of fame. Until now, college coaches haven't been allowed to call him or talk to him in person unless he took the initiative to call. Of course, that changes now that the spring game is over. The attention he's going to be getting will certainly make him feel special.

"I love it so far," he said. "They treat you like a superstar."

Like so many South Florida kids, there is a small catch in the recruiting process. There is that certain school down in Coral Gables and when the mighty Hurricanes come calling, Heath is like most South Florida kids in that he will certainly listen.

"I am waiting on Miami to see what they are talking about," he said.

Though he waits patiently to see what Miami will have to say, the Florida Gators are making headway, largely because UF is recruiting him as an athlete rather than as an offensive specialist or a defensive specialist.

"Florida is recruiting me as an athlete right now," he said. "Wherever they need me at that is okay as long as we get that National Championship ring. The fans go crazy there (The Swamp). I went to the spring game. That was a lot of people at the spring game."

Brandon Heath will be a big time recruited player this 2005 high school football season. The fact that he could be equally impressive on either side of the ball makes him a huge target for even more schools. The Gators will recruit heavy at safety and receiver this year, and Heath will be high on their list of choices. Top Stories