Pasco's WR/DB Janarion Grant showed why he should be one of the state's top prospects next year with his impressive performance at the USF Sling & Shoot II 7-on-7 tournament.
Whether on offense of defense, he caught every ball that came his way. His game-winning catch in overtime against Clearwater Countryside got the Pirates into the finals, where is led the team to the championship with two interceptions and two touchdown catches in the final.
But there were tons of other players putting on impressive performances at the 52-team, 2-day tourney spread all over the USF campus.
Pasco quarterback Jacob Guy was one of them. The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder was slinging the bal all over the place in helping lead Pasco to the title.
Pasco's other receivers also had a hand in on the tourney success. Trey Dudley-Giles, Raheem Wigfall and David Emmanuel also had good tournaments.
And the Pasco player all Pirates should be lauding is little known, little used back-up QB/WR Connor Yann. He was running a sideline pattern in the semfinal game during which a Countryside defender gambled and jumped the route, just missing an interception of a Jacob Guy pass. Yann hauled it in and raced about 25 yards for what proved to be the game-winning TD and a spot in the championship game.
- Runner-up Tampa Gaither also went on a tournament roll to get to the championship game. What had to make the Gaither coaches happy was the play of sophomore QB Alex McGough, a transfer from Wesley Chapel. McGough started off the tournament a little sluggish, but on Sunday he was in synch, with his receivers, especially QB turned slot back Shug Oyegunle. In fact, after trading places during every other series, McGough finally became the QB of choice, and he would hook with the converted slot receiver for numerous deep balls.
- Armwood and Clearwater Countryside were the other two Final Four teams and had some nice performances individually. For Armwood, which is usually carried by its defense with the likes of LB Jarvis McCall, LB Erick Striker and DB Leon McQuay, got the passing game rolling on Sunday. 2013 QB Darryl Richardson was as on-target as he's been all summer, and WRs Alvin Bailey, Wade Edwards and Javonte Sneed were finishing plays at the end of the rope.
- Countryside touts one of the top quarterbacks in the state in Gray Crow, who is committed to Miami. Crow struggled to find his rhythm at times on Sunday and even had three interceptions in the semifinal game against Pasco. (Yes, Janarion Grant had something to do with that). Six-foot-5 tight end Nick Cantu also had a decent weekend, but a couple of drops had the coach disgusted a few times. Junior TE AJ Sattinger and WR Marrieo Taylor were consistent through the weekend.
- Daytona Beach Mainland gave teams fits all from the defensive side of the ball with the likes of LB Jarvis Mott (2012), DE Quinton Powell (2013), DB Deante Wilson (2013) and Rick Rumph (2012), just to name a few. What started to come alive, however, improving with every game, was the receiving crew and its timing with senior QB Shelton Willis. Seniors D.J. Andrews, Sam Hill and Tavelle Wiley were extremely productive in getting the Bucs into the round of 16. Mainland lost just four games in the final two 7-on-7 tournaments of the summer.
- His team didn't do so well, but the state's top tight end Kent Taylor of Land O' Lakes always stands out wherever he goes. The 6-5, 220-pounder has offers from everyone you could imagine and the Gators are heavily involved in the chase.
- The new kids on the block were from Lake Minneola. Never heard of it? You're not alone. Lake Minneola is the new Lake County High School opening up this year near the Clermont area and most of the students feeding into the school will be coming from East Ridge. One of the top players will be 2013 strong safety Morris Lawrence (6-0, 190), who is the brother of East Ridge senior LB Khalil Pierson. Other players to watch at Lake Minneola are little WR Wateze Collier, LB Ashton Snipes, and QB-LB Olan McCoy, just to name a few.
- Kissimmee Liberty had a pair of defensive backs who looked pretty good in Demetrius Taylor and Dario Bennett. Taylor is the more athletic of the two, and he also plays WR.
- South Sumter boasts a talented trio of seniors in TE Dalton Hofecker, QB Ian Papenheim and S-LB junior Keanu Neal, a well built 6-0, 204-pound safety, linebacker-to-be, who is probably the best player on the team. Papenheim has good size at 6-3, 195, but he hasn't thrown much in the pas,t so accuracy can be shaky at times. This team might pass more this season, but with a running back like Dillon Hagins, who did not attend the Sling & Shoot, it won't exactly be Air Sumter.
- West Virginia commit Devante Robinson showed glimpses of what he can do plenty of times for the Delray Beach Village Academy, but other times was somewhat dormant in production. The team did have other players making plays, however, like WR-DB Kenny Williams.
- An upstart Tarpon Springs East Lake squad showed plenty of moxie and plenty of talent in making it to the Final 8 before losing to eventual champion Pasco in three overtimes. The Eagles could have used talented WR Artavis Scott in the overtimes, but Scott, a heckuva a sophomore receiver, was ejected late in regulation after words with a referee in arguing a four-second count on a sack of East Lake QB Pete DiNovo. Speaking of DiNovo, he had one heck of a tournament. The 6-2, 190-pound junior should get some consideration as a top prospect next season. He was tough under pressure and just missed getting his team inthe final four. Another interesting thing about DiNovo is that he's home-schooled.
- Tampa Jefferson always has players making noise and this year will be no different, especially with brothers and wide receivers Adrian and Aaron Jenkins spreading the field. Another receiver had a huge weekend at USF. Coaches said he had no drops during Saturday's 5-game pool play and Johnnie Moore had 3 touchdowns. Jefferson is trying to settle in on it's quarterback for the season. Up for the job is junior Tyler Smalls and sophomore Deiondre Porter. Porter took most of the snaps on Sunday, for whatever that's worth. Smalls is the passer, while Porter is more mobile. Jefferson's top prospect Tyriq McCord was not with the team this past weekend. McCord, who is heavily involved with his church, was on a church excursion.
- Jupiter quarterback Tyler Cameron got to show off a little bit, moving his team into the final 16 before falling to Armwood. Cameron is considered the best QB prospect in the state and he is still undecided on a college. Jupiter also got great production out of senior Glenn Collier, a 5-11, 155 WR-CB who has offers from Middle Tennessee, FIU, FAU and USF.
- Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer has plenty of firepower, but the Panthers couldn't put things together. East Lake sent Dwyer packing in the round of 16, and the Panthers barely survived getting out of the round of 32 teams, but a game-winning TD pass from senior QB-K Bobby Puyol (UConn commit) to Johnnie Dixon got Dwyer past Tarpon Springs. Stud transfer QB Faton Bauta had his share of troubles during the weekend, and he was trading reps with Puyols on Sunday. The Panthers, however, have a whole stable of athletes and plenty of big men back home.
- Others who had decent performances over the weekend were Chiefland QB-DB Raheem Brown and ATH Josh Smith, Eagle Lake Lake Region QB L.T. Thopmson (2013) and WR Andre Palmer (2013), Umatilla's brother tandem of senior QB Jeff Hall and junior WR Jesse Hall, Tampa Bay Tech seniors RB Lamarq Caldwell and DB Major Bloom, Tarpon Springs seniors DB Runaldo Wright and QB Louis Pappas,
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.