Following His Leader?

Miramar (Fla.) HS offensive lineman Yodney Cajuste has witnessed his recruitment skyrocket the last couple of weeks. With a couple visit dates planned just weeks before signing day, he updates on his overall recruitment.

Yodney Cajuste isn't quite sure where he'd be right now if it wasn't for Damon Cogdell.

Cogdell, a highly successful high school coach at Miramar since 2007, helped guide Cajuste in making what he calls a "life-changing" decision.

Cajuste, 6-foot-6, 270 pound, two-sport athlete, wasn't sure football was the path for him. He had visions of being a basketball standout, and using the roundball as a way to better himself.

Then, Cogdell stepped in.

"If it wasn't for Coach Cogdell, I don't know where I'd be right now," Cajuste said. "Honestly, I was playing basketball and it was my 11th grade year in the spring when he came up to me. He told me I needed to play football, and it was sometime around February. I told him I was going to stick with basketball because that was me. I thought that was my way."

"He told me to try football out for the spring, and if I didn't get any offers I could go back to basketball," he continued. "I tried it out, and loved it. By the end of May, I had five offers. He's done a lot for me and I owe it all to him."

Following a productive senior season, where he played mostly offensive tackle for the Patriots, colleges across the east coast have taken notice. With reported offers from Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Samford and Memphis -- and significant interest from West Virginia -- Cajuste recently narrowed his list of schools down to Samford, WVU and UF.

A decision that could prove to be difficult for Cajuste.

"My recruitment is going good right now," Cajuste said. "I visited Florida and I'm going to West Virginia on Jan. 24th. That should help me decide on which school is the best for me."

The schools have differing plans for Cajuste, who is clearly still in the developmental stage as a player. West Virginia would like to see him develop into a defensive lineman, while Florida projects him as an offensive tackle.

"Florida wants me to play offensive tackle, and West Virginia thinks I could play defensive line," Cajuste said. "I need to decide which I'm more comfortable at. I played some on defensive last year, but I mostly played tackle."

It's no secret there's a history between Miramar and West Virginia. The list of former Patriots who have gone on to become successful Mountaineers is a long one, and it's a relationship that Cajuste is already familiar with.

"I know a little bit about West Virginia, he laughed. "I know all about the Miramar to West Virginia pipeline. I know (former Mountaineers) Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney who are Miramar alumni who went to West Virginia. I wouldn't mind keeping that pipeline going."

Now, Cajuste has the opportunity to reunite with Cogdell.

Earlier this month, Cogdell, a former West Virginia linebacker, accepted a position on the Mountaineers staff, opening a path for the two to meet again. That move could be the deciding factor in Cajuste's recruitment.

"I think that would influence my decision," he said. "Especially going up there playing defensive line and he could be coaching me. That will definitely have an effect on my decision."

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