TAMPA, Fla. - During a road trip to the Sunshine State last week, we took a look at one of the best prospects in the country for the Class of 2015 and loads of additional talent in the Jacksonville and Tampa Bay areas.
CeCe Jefferson is a potential five-star prospect for the 2015 cycle.
Jefferson is elite in 2015
One of the very best defensive line prospects in the class of 2015 is end CeCe Jefferson (Glen St. Mary, Fla./Baker County). The 6-foot-2, 253-pounder with broad shoulder, long arms and an engaging personality is uber impressive at first glance and conversation, but to those who see him daily -- he's even on another level.
Baker County head coach Ryan Sulkowski has seen his seen his fair share of top prospects whether it be at Hargrave Military Academy or at Clemson, and Jefferson fits the bill.
"Phenominal," Sulkowski said. "Looking at the way he plays, what he does on the field, the way he controls the game; all of it. We were a mediocre football team talent wise, and that's why we had to put him on offense in addition to defense. When he was on offense, we saw a transformation and he made the offense go like he makes the defense go. He's one of those kids that other kids gravitate towards, they look up to him and he does a good job leading them. He just has that personality"
Jefferson, who has more than 30 sacks in two seasons as he chases the national high school sack record, projects as an end with the versatility and physicality to play anywhere along a four man front.
"We are still looking at him to probably keep putting weight on, keep growing and as much as I want to say people are looking for taller defensive ends, I want to to say he can end up playing anywhere along the front four,” Sulkowski said. “That's where he has a passion to play, and he's a defensive lineman all the way. Probably a five technique. He does so well in one-on-one situations with tackles.”
While Jefferson is definitely a good athlete for his size and can dominate in that manner on the high school level, it's his advanced understanding of how to use his hands and leverage that sets him apart.
"(Jefferson) uses his hands, and understands leverage,” Sulkowski said. “I think that is where you lack in high school football. He can take that inside hand and press on a tackle. He just understands the leverage points. He's also quick off the ball with a quick first step.”
Class of 2015 defensive end CeCe Jefferson has more than 30 sacks the last two seasons and is chasing the national high school sack record.
The Baker County staff fully understood what they had in Jefferson two years ago, and have made sure it was known to college staffs early on the type of talent they have on their hands.
"We are Baker County,” Sulkowski said. “We are a small community and not really publicized. We knew he was going to be a starter as a freshman. When we saw what he did as a freshman against some rally talented players, we sent his tape off to Maxpreps for their freshman All-America team, and he was picked. With recruiting the way it is now, you have to find them early and we have to help ours in that way. Now it's a common location that colleges are coming to.”
Sulkowski said Jefferson takes the offers and success in stride, and with humility.
"Kids gravitate to him. The teachers love him. He knows when to be serious, and when he can joke; and he's a funny kid. We all enjoy speaking to him, as does everyone in our community. He treats people with respect."
On the recruiting front, Ohio State offered Friday and USF Monday. At this point, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Ole Miss and Tennessee stand out. This summer, he will likely make unofficial visits to South Carolina, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Alabama, Mississippi State and others.
Blackjack for Holland
Class of 2015 linebacker Jeffrey Holland (Jacksonville/Trinity Christian) is now up to 21 verbal scholarship offers. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder with quick feet and fluidity continues to stock pile them at a staggering rate with another handful coming through the first week of May.
"I know Mississippi State, Tennessee, Rutgers, Minnesota and Arkansas offered me this week," Holland said.
Holland, who has said he wants to make a decision before the start of the 2013 season (this summer), will be making a key road trip in June to help in that decision making process.
“Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida and Florida State; and maybe some others,” Holland said.
Class of 2015 linebacker Jeffery Holland is up to 21 verbal scholarship offers.
Of course, the two in-state powers figure to be tough to beat at the end of the day.
"There is not list yet, but I like watching Florida and Florida State play,” he said. “Florida is my family’s team. It's right down the street from my home. Florida State is also right down the street. I like (Seminoles defensive coordinator) Jeremy Pruitt and (defensive line coach) Odell Haggins.”
Like many prospects, Holland's decision will come down to comfort and relationships.
"My next step is to start calling coaches more and see who I really like,” he said. “I talk to Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, and I'm going to start talking to Tennessee and some others more."
Holland is currently 230-pounds after playing the 2012 season at 220.
Ford to decide in July
One of the more interesting recruitments in the state in the 2014 class is wide receiver Isaiah Ford, who is Holland’s teammate at Trinity. That’s not because of who is being considered or when he will decide, necessarily, but because the 6-foot-2, 175-pounder is one of the few prospects that legitimately has the chance to play football and basketball at the next level.
"In basketball, just basketball, I have Gardner-Webb, Jacksonville University, Radford, Rider and Liberty," Ford said. "But schools that have offered me in both so far are South Carolina, Louisville and Florida State."
Ford, who is the cousin of former Trinity Christian and Clemson standout Jaime Harper, maintains he is still open as he looks for the best fit with playing two sports in mind.
Class of 2015 offensive tackle Jake Fruhmorgen is an Alabama legacy and has the Tide and Notre Dame out in front.
"Right now, I'm still open,” Ford said. “I haven't decided which camps I'm going to yet, but most likely Florida, FSU, South Carolina, Louisville and Ohio State. I probably want to try to make my decision in July.”
On the surface, it appears as if Louisville and South Carolina are the two top options as a two-sport college athlete.
"I talk to Coach Ron Dugans from Louisville a lot,” Ford said. “We are really close. I talk to Coach Steve Spurrier Jr. at South Carolina a lot too, and Coach Tim Hinton at Ohio State. I have really good relationships with Louisville and South Carolina."
Ford's football verbal offer list includes Mississippi State, Rutgers, Tennessee, UCF, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and others.
First offer for Alabama legacy
It was truly only a matter of time this month until class of 2015 offensive tackle Jake Fruhmorgen (Tampa, Fla./Plant) picked up his first verbal offer. The 6-foot-5, nearing 265-pound young technician with plus feet and the ability to bend stands out on video or on the practice field, and on Saturday after a physical first day in pads -- the first offer was made.
"Washington State offered me Saturday," Fruhmorgen said. "Obviously, that's pretty cool to get that this early. I was surprised a little bit because of my age, but I have really been working hard so I think I deserve it,"
On Monday, Tennessee and Georgia both hatched Plant practice with eyes focused on Fruhmorgen with the understanding there are some strong family ties to the back-to-back national champions.
"Alabama and Notre Dame (are the favorites),” he said. “My dad played guard and tackle at Alabama from 84 to 88."
Plant High head coach Bob Weiner said the Washington State offer is the fist of many.
"Jake really, he grows as your looking at him," Weiner said. "He seems to get bigger by the day, and he comes from great pedigree. His father played high school ball with me, and then college and the NFL, and his grandfather was our high school coach. He's been around Plant High football for years, has been around the game for years and understands the game. Now he is starting to put the power into it, and he's really going to be a big kid. I think he'll be a major, major, major recruit."
Fruhmorgen plans to hit the summer camp circuit in June with planned stops at Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Miami and some others.
Wilkins has six, hopes for Georgia
Cornerback Mazzi Wilkins (Tampa/Plant) is not receiving the fan fair of some others in the area in the class of 2014, but on Monday he had the look of a prospect with upside and a frame that has yet to start filling out.
While he is not talked about on the national stage, at this point, FBS programs certainly know about him with six having offered and more on the way.
"USF, Memphis, Marshall, Rutgers, UConn and Washington State have offered,' Wilkins said.
The near 6-foot-1 and 160-pound corner with 4.55 speed and long arms is not in a rush to make a decision.
"I'm not really worried about it right now. I'm just enjoying spring football with my teammates, and having fun as we get ready for the season," he said.
If there is one program that could make Wilkins change his tune and force an early decision, it would be Georgia, where former Plant star Aaron Murray is a senior quarterback this coming season.
"University of Georgia. I don't know what it is, I visited there last summer for a camp and the town was just amazing. It seems like a great place to be."
Wilkins said he plans to attend one-day camps in the area and state, along with a trip to Ohio State June 22.