During the spring and into the summer, www.floridakids.us will bring you our IN THE HUDDLE segments with football players throughout the state of Florida.
These are similar to the evaluations we pass on to the hundreds of colleges who visit our website, call us on the phone and correspond via e-mail.
Here is another top football player to keep an eye on this season – and beyond.
PLAYER: Colin McCarthy
SCHOOL: Clearwater Central Catholic
HEAD COACH: Mike Jalazo
www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring Rating: 76
As the sun started to break through the summer morning sky, members of the Clearwater Central Catholic football team began to warm up for a 7-on-7 game on the second day of the annual University of South Florida Team Passing/Competition Camp. That was last July!
As the higher profile players such as rising senior A.J. Trump and rising junior Riley Cooper caught the attention of those on hand, there was another player, a rising junior, who most had never heard about, who was starting to turn heads as well.
The thing that had me checking out Colin McCarthy is the way his coach used him. Even if it was a touch football experience, anyone who would lineup at safety the first play, move to tight end the next, quarterback on the following series, receiver the next time the Marauders had the ball, and ended up playing linebacker toward the end of the game, made be think that there was certainly a diamond that nobody had a clue about.
Even before the event, when I asked the coaches about the top players to watch, Colin's name wasn't mentioned. Maybe that was the plan. They all knew what they had. But there was no way you could hide someone so versatile, and somebody who was such a hard worker.
If Coach Jalazo and his staff wanted to keep McCarthy a secret, this camp and the following combines during the summer would produce an athlete who quickly jumped on the watch list.
After all, how can you hide an athlete who was a first team All-County selection as a tight end, where he caught 32 balls for 595 yards and 8 TD, and an honorable mention All-Suncoast linebacker, where his 118 solo tackles (163 total), 2 fumble recoveries, 2 sacks, 5 interceptions and 14 tackles for loss were among the best in the state of Florida.
To make things even more complicated, McCarthy was selected first team All-State as a defensive back!
STRENGTHS: The first thing that comes to mind when evaluating a player like McCarthy is his athletic ability. When you can take a player, with this size, quickness, strength and burst of speed, and put him at five different positions on the field, you create something positive for your team and for the college coaches watching.
Watching him as a linebacker, his instincts are tremendous, but I only chalk his ability to anticipate and come up with tremendous hits to his overall versatility as a football player. He has played most of the positions he is going up against, so there is a natural tendancy to know what's going on.
He drops into pass coverage very well, moves up to play the run equally as impressive. You can tell that he watches film and listens. His tackling technique is almost textbook, and that is something that is very rare in this day of freestyle play on the field at the high school level.
While he will make a decent safety at the next level, his athletic ability, quickness and leadership qualities make him the perfect linebacker.
On offense, he isn't the typical pass-blocking, run-supporting tight end you may be seeking, but he does catch the ball like a receiver. His concentration, pass-catching ability and strength give him an opportunity to create mismatches against linebackers. That's why he was able to make such an impact on the offensive side of the ball.
McCarthy also throws the ball well when called upon, but that is truly a last option for an athlete who never comes off the field as it is.
WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON: There is little doubt that the position major colleges are seeking for McCarthy is linebacker. That's why this season will be important for him to get more looks at that position and not so much being the next great tight end or safety prospect.
The name of the game in high school is developing, so with that in mind, I suspect you will see McCarthy lineup anywhere the Marauders need him.
OVERALL: When I came out with the first list of this class back in August, I felt strongly about McCarthy's ability. When the next list appeared in February, I was confused by which position he would play. Now that I know, he will be on the rise once again back toward the top 50 in the state!
COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: While his college choices are wide open right now, he is still waiting to see which schools start to show plenty of interest.
While Miami, Florida and Florida State are high on his list, he also likes Penn State, Auburn, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Georgia, Indiana and Maryland.
Get IN THE HUDDLE with some more of Florida's emerging stars:
IN THE HUDDLE - DONTAE JONES
IN THE HUDDLE - DAMON PIFER
IN THE HUDDLE - CHRIS SORCE
IN THE HUDDLE - SHOMARI GRANT
IN THE HUDDLE - DARRELL ROSEMAN
IN THE HUDDLE - JAMES POE
IN THE HUDDLE - RYAN ELLIS
IN THE HUDDLE - COURTNEY JONES
IN THE HUDDLE - BRYAN THOMAS
IN THE HUDDLE - JORDAN DALRYMPLE
IN THE HUDDLE - PRESTON PARKER
IN THE HUDDLE - SABBATH JOSEPH
IN THE HUDDLE - RYAN KHAWLY
IN THE HUDDLE - BRANDON JAMES
IN THE HUDDLE - KEITH HOUSTON
IN THE HUDDLE - REGGIE ODOM
IN THE HUDDLE - C.J. SPILLER
IN THE HUDDLE - RILEY COOPER
IN THE HUDDLE - JAMES JAMISON
IN THE HUDDLE - DESMOND GEE
IN THE HUDDLE - RICKY GARY
IN THE HUDDLE - LAURANCE MARIUS
IN THE HUDDLE - KENRICK ELLIS
IN THE HUDDLE - RICHARD JACKSON
IN THE HUDDLE - LABRANDON GLOVER
IN THE HUDDLE: Colin McCarthy
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