There was a point in time this past football season that if you were to ask the most astute recruiting expert about New Smyrna Beach wide receiver/kick returner Raheem Mostert, the answer would have been, "Who."
But with the help of NSB head coach Lance Jenkins trying to get his name out there, as well as a stellar performance in the Central Florida All-Star Game and an appearance in the Florida North-South All-Star Game, Mostert fast became a households name in the 2011 college football recruiting class.
But Purdue was on him early, and the feeling of being wanted and the way the Mostert family was received by the coaches during home and campus visits, won them over. So that's why Mostert committed to the Boilermakers on Tuesday (Jan. 25), becoming the sixth Central Florida player to join the Purdue football program in the past two seasons.
Daytona Beach Mainland players WR O.J. Ross and CB Ricardo Allen had big seasons as freshmen in West Lafayette, Ind., while kicker Jonathan Linkenheimer, also of Mainland, and E.J. Johnson of Cocoa were also on the roster as freshmen. Also on the roster is former Winter Springs running back Al-Turek McBurse. Fellow 2011 Purdue prospect Taylor Richards, safety from Lake Mary, is also headed to Purdue.
"It did have some to do with it," Jenkins said, "But it's one of those things where Purdue coaches came in and sat down with the family and made their offer. The family felt really comfortable. Purdue was in early and stuck with Raheem."
Mostert came off his Purdue visit on the same weekend of Jan. 15, during which he also visited Wake Forest.
Word, however, started getting out about the 5-10, 185-pound speedster who runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash.
"He was late coming on, but now they're all on him," Jenkins said. "I had Miami calling me first thing this morning interested in him, and Coach (Kevin) Wilson from Indiana was here yesterday morning, and Jim Grobe from Wake Forest was hear all afternoon.
"Coach (George) O’Leary was here last week. It's just one of those things where whoever got in on him first was the team to beat."
Jenkins loved to watch Mostert running back kicks this season. He had nine kickoff returns for touchdowns and one punt return for a score. At WR, he caught 26 balls for 545 yards and 4 touchdowns, averaging 21 yards per catch.
"He made it easy, and when you can return kickoffs like that, it certainly makes it easy on your offense," Jenkins said. "After a while, nobody would kick to him, so we'd get the ball at the 40 or 50 every time. That makes things a lot easier.
"He's pretty much as fast as he wants to be."
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com.