INSIDE THE TRENCHES: Florida's Elite

When you talk about elite football players in the state of Florida, you usually hear about running backs, defensive backs or wide receivers. This year, FloridaKids.us has been introducing you to some of the top linemen in the Sunshine State. Here are some more!

There is something special brewing in the Sunshine State for the 2005 season with the Class of 2006. Something that will shift the attention from the many skilled position players this state produces to moving up front - to the line of scrimmage!

In the first three parts of this series, we looked at some of impressive prospects in South Florida on both sides of the line of srimmage. Now, we move up state to the Central Florida region and into the Hillsborough County.

In part four we will look at top prospects Daron Rose from Tampa Jefferson, Corey Hobbs and Andy Lark from Oviedo, Reggie Odom from Deland and Leslie Sturrups from Tampa Hillsbourgh.

Longtime FloridaKids.us Publisher Larry Blustein admitted that he doesn't remember this many quality linemen coming out of Florida. In fact, Blustein recently talked about the talent pool with Joe Rose on Miami's 790 AM The Ticket Radio Station.

"This coming season, the Class of 2006 will be something very special for the linemen," Blustein told Rose. "We usually see some of the best receivers, defensive backs, linebackers and running backs in the nation coming out of this state. Now, we will be watching a number of talented offensive and defensive linemen who will be nationally rated."

Tampa Jefferson: The first lineman we will focus on is Daron Rose of Tampa Jefferson. While Sam Young from Fort Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas will draw most of the attention from recruiters this fall, it's Rose who looks to steal some of the spotlight from the South Florida star.


Daron Rose, TAMPA JEFFERSON
"I had him rated in the top 20 last year after his sophomore season," said Blustein. "This is a young man who I watched three times last year and twice the season before. He has great feet, uses his upper body strength to his advantage, and has utilized the coaching of his head coach Mike Simmonds (former Tampa Bay Buc lineman)."

Rose has it all. Size, speed and a mean streak you look for in an offensive lineman. When you watch Rose come off the ball, he seems to play with a purpose on every play. He also has very good technique and sound footwork.

Rose has already received a number of verbal offers with more on the way. He is the real deal who has the chance, one day, to play on Sundays.

Oviedo High: Discovered last summer at the famed Down ‘N Dirty Linemen Camp at St. Leo College, Corey Hobbs of Oviedo has turned into one of the top prospects in the state, and is quickly grabbing national attention.

While student/athletes like Rose and Young are your more athletic type linemen, Hobbs relies on his strength to overpower the opposition. He is a big, strong, powerful linemen that is almost impossible for one person to handle.

"When I got to the Down ‘N Dirty Camp last summer, all the coaches were talking about is the way Hobbs dominated," said Blustein. "Some said that he was easily the top lineman they had in camp in a long time, and that camp is one of the premier events in the nation."


Andy Lark, OVIEDO
While Hobbs is one of the top defensive tackles in Florida this year, it's on the offensive side of the football where he will make his mark at the next level.

Another linemen to watch for from Oviedo is Andy Lark. Lark quickly grabbed the attention of his peers, coaches and the recruiting websites during the MSL Combine last April in Gainesville. His strength and quickness made the difference in the way he moved and came off the ball.

While Lark won't get the same attention as his teammate Hobbs, he is another D1A prospect on the Oviedo defense. He is not as big and strong as Hobbs, but Lark is quicker and moves better laterally than his teammate.

Deland High School: Last year, after attending the MSL Combine in Gainesville, Blustein came back to tell me of a player who was just a junior, but one that could become something special. His big find was 6-2, 285-pound Reggie Odom.

Over the summer last year, one prospect that really stood out in my mind was Kendrick Stewart of Lakeland. With Odom, I get the same feeling I got when watching the former Lakeland star, who is headed to Florida State in the fall.


Reggie Odom, DELAND
"Reggie is a very special person," Blustein said. "He has a great support staff in his parents and has made a solid mark in the classroom."

"As for his play on the field," Blustein continued. "This is a solid football player who makes plays. I have read some people try to evaluate him, but just watching him on film will NOT get it done. This is a player who does so much when the camera is not on him."

Odom is a big time defensive tackle prospect that can take over a game. He is not the biggest defensive tackle on the recruiting board, but he may be one of the quickest. He comes off the ball low and just fires into the opposition backfield. By the end of the 2005 season, Odom could be the top defensive tackle in Florida.

Tampa Hillsborough: Last summer, I had the pleasure of going to the Tropicana Dome in St. Petersburg for a pre-season tripleheader. The final game of the quality event saw Bradenton Manatee take on the Coach Earl Garcia's Terriers.

The last linemen we will focus on in this segment is Leslie Sturrups. What stands out about this emerging star is how unbelievably quick he comes off the football.

"You can watch Leslie on 10 different plays and see him do 10 different things," Blustein pointed out. "Some plays he is dominating and nobody can touch him, while others he seems to go half speed. When he turns up the heat on every play, he will be something very special to watch."

Sturrups is the type of defensive linemen that can star at defensive end or tackle in college. He has long arms and will be very difficult for opposing linemen to get their hands into his body. His ability to put pressure on the quarterback will also be a big reason why his recruitment is just starting to heat up.

Charles Fishbein is a recruiting columnist for www.floridakids.us. You can also check out his outstanding work on Scout.com. If you have any questions, just contact him via e-mail at Cfishbein@aol.com.

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