MELBOURNE - Two years ago, Rodrick Lawson brought a few young players to a spring combine in Miami with the belief that if he could build on a few talented youngsters with some incoming veteran players, he would have something special at Florida Air Academy.
At a school that found a way to put itself on the map nationally as a boys' basketball powerhouse, football was a sport that had a major selling job to do with the athletes.
Located down the street from powerhouse Palm Bay, Melbourne High and Holy Trinity, which had started to produce some talented athletes over the past few years, FAA had its work cut out for them.
To know and understand the competitive side of Lawson, and University of Central Florida product, is to realize that hard work, knowledge and the ability to bring in some top athletes is a philosophy he shares with the basketball team that went through the season unbeaten.
The Falcons built this program, knowing full well that there would be many people across the state watching their every move.
This spring has watched Lawson sell his rising group of seniors, and colleges have listened. During the spring, perhaps more coaches attended FAA practices than Melbourne and Palm Bay. When you have a list of outstanding seniors such as Paul Baker (5), Sherman Lang (7), Tameko Wilson (22) and Justin Frazier (8), you get the attention of colleges in a hurry.
Baker, Lang and Frazier all come in this season from Palm Beach County where they already started to carve out a very impressive niche.
Baker, a 5-11, 195-pound running back/linebacker, is one of the top players in the state. He had as many as 15 schools interested by the end of the spring.
Frazier is a 6-3, 215-pounder who plays tight end and outside linebacker. Wilson is a speedy 6-2, 195-pound receiver/kick returner.
But make no mistake, the jewel of this senior class is Lang, who at 5-11, 180, was one of the best junior players Boca Raton High has produced in several years. He is quick, strong and has the ability as a receiver or a defensive back to play at an elite level.
"You watch Sherman play and you can see him fitting in at the next level," said Charles Fishbein of FloridaKids.us. "I talk to perhaps more college coaches throughout the country than anyone and they all ask about Sherman. That's impressive!"
While Baker, Lang, Frazier and Wilson are the players on the rise, they are not alone at FAA for the 2005 season. The senior class also includes defensive back Krishun Coward (5-9, 170), running back/linebacker Lavour Addison (5-10, 219) and quarterback Matt Joyce (6-3, 160).
The Class of 2006 also features quarterback Miles Price (6-1, 160), running back/linebacker Felip Blaze (5-11, 195), linebacker Joe Smith (6-2, 170), defensive lineman Aaron Wilson (5-8, 180), tight end/defensive lineman Meko Major (6-2, 207), linebacker Brett Carlton (5-8, 170), and offensive linemen James Longman (5-10, 190), Scott Vance (5-9, 205), Sebastian Wright (6-3, 245), Michael Blanfort (6-4, 260) and Robert Stein (5-10, 244).
The future of this program begins with the juniors and then includes seven sophomores and a pair of freshmen who could have a say over the next four years.
The junior class starts with wide receiver/defensive back Maurice Moore (5-8, 155), quarterback/defensive back Marlon Booth (5-8, 160), running back/linebacker Billy Lewis (6-2, 170), defensive back Shola Ogunlari (6-4, 185), defensive lineman Trumaine Gibson (5-7, 170), defensive back/wide receiver Scott Ellis (6-0, 155), and offensive linemen Tomas Prekevocious (6-6, 255) and Carlton Boltenbley (6-2, 230).
The seven sophomores the Falcons are excited about includes running back/linebacker Johnel Lang (5-11, 175), the younger brother of Sherman and a player that some are calling one of the national stars of the Class of 2008 – already.
Also in the sophomore mix are linebacker Marcell Thorpe (6-2, 180), defensive backs Andrew Currie (5-11, 155) and Bryce Ashline (5-10, 160), linebacker Lyndell Hall (5-9, 170), and linemen Lancaster Roberts (5-9, 185), Alex Grossman (6-2, 230) and Nicholas Zynko (6-2, 220).
Here are two names for the Class of 2009 that you may want to remember. Running back Ulmar Merritt (5-4, 155) and wide receiver/defensive back Mark Martin (5-10, 155).
Want www.floridakids.us to profile your school in the summer? Just let us know by e-mailing FloridaKids1@hotmail.com or CFishbein@aol.com.
Immokalee, Blountstown, Miami Central, Naples Lely, Fort Myers, Tallahassee Godby, Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson, Pompano, Boca Raton, Greenacres John I. Leonard, Ocala Trinity Catholic, Miami Booker T. Washington, Melbourne Florida Air Academy and North Fort Myers knows what it's like to have their program exposed for all to see!
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