Defensive Minded

A love of contact is at the heart of one Floridian's success on the defensive side of the ball, and his play there has a number of schools in pursuit of his services.

Fort Myers' C.J. Odom, a defensive buzz saw who flies around the field, has favored that phase of play for as long as he can remember.

"I love defense," said Odom, who spearheads his team on that side of the ball. "I love contact, and I do prefer to hitting instead of getting hit. Defense is just more fun and more exciting to me."

Playing free safety as a junior, Odom racked up an eye-popping 104 tackles. His pursuit and support skills were so evident that the Fort Myers coaching staff is moving him to take advantage of his skills.

"I'm moving up to strong safety to get closer to the ball," said Odom, who relishes the chance to be even closer to the action. "The coaches want me to be more of a run stopper. But I still have the ability to cover [receivers] too. It will be a good chance for me to be able to do both things defensively."

A demonstration of that versatility will likely increase Odom's list of scholarship offers, which currently includes West Virginia, Colorado, Indiana and South Florida. Other schools showing interest include Alabama, Florida and Ohio State. The third, and most important list, however, is Odom's current top five.

"Right now, West Virginia, South Florida, Florida, Miami and Alabama are on top of my list," said Odom, who has camped at South Florida and Florida and attended a combine at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. "I haven't really gotten into making a list of what things I'll base my decision on, but I do know that it doesn't matter how far the school is from home. I just need to find the school that feels like home to me. It's not about how far away it is."

Odom, who is also playing as an I-formation running back, has had strong interest in West Virginia since the start of the recruiting process.

"West Virginia was sending me letters, and they asked for a tape on me. After they got that and saw it, they offered a scholarship. I haven't visited there yet, but I am planning to. I'm going to try to get there during the season, but we don't have many weeks off, so that can make it tough to get there while we are playing. I am still working on it, but I'll probably have to wait until after the season to make a visit.

"I've been hearing about them being a great school," Odom continued. "I played against Noel Devine in high school, and although I haven't talked to him about West Virginia yet, the coaches have talked about him. I can see by the letters they have sent and the interest they have shown, that the school fits me."

With football camping season over, Odom is concentrating on both athletics and academics for the rest of the summer.

"I'm still working out," said Odom, who clocked a 4.6 time to go with his solid 6-1, 205 pound frame. "I'm also going to take another [standardized] test before school starts."

As many Floridians considering out-of-state destinations do, Odom will likely not be making an early decision.

"I'm not sure about that," he said. "If there was a way to make more visits during the season, I might be able to make my choice. I'd want to do that. But it's tough to make visits during the year. I won't mind if I have to wait after the season."

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