College football’s spring recruiting evaluation period is underway, and for high school players like Everglades offensive lineman Richard Williams and Hallandale defensive end Dana Levine, that means scholarship offers are imminent.
Over the next month, college coaches from around the country will flock to South Florida high schools in search of the next Geno Smith, Anquan Boldin or Major Wright. NCAA rules allow for coaches to make two in-person evaluations per prospect between April 15 and May 31, and with a majority of local high schools starting practices within the next week, South Florida’s roadways are expected to be jammed with rental cars and logoed polo shirts.
Williams’ performances at guard for the Gators have left no doubt that he’s a Division 1 player, but he’s yet to be offered a college scholarship. Recruiting offensive linemen is tricky, and not necessarily a science. Recruiters have told Williams that they want to see him in person before extending an offer — the proverbial “eye test.”
One of those coaches who wants to size up Williams is Alabama assistant Mario Cristobal. Cristobal told Williams earlier this month that he plans to stop by Everglades in the next three weeks. But if Cristobal is to earn an audience with Williams, he’ll have to beat Cincinnati, Colorado State, USF and FAU to campus. Coaches from each of those schools are also expected to to see Williams within the next month.
“They all said they love me, but just have to see me first,” Williams said. “They like my film, but they want to see how I practice and carry myself. Anyone can put together a five-minute clip of highlights where they can look great, but coaches want to see someone’s character up close.”
Levine — who is ranked as the Sun Sentinel’s No. 28 in Broward County for the Class of 2015 — is in a similar situation to Williams, but his evaluation period has already started. On Monday, Florida State defensive coordinator Charles Kelly visited Hallandale to get a closer look at the weak-side defensive end. The Seminoles have yet to extend an offer, but they won’t be the only program to visit Hallandale.
Chargers coach Dameon Jones said he’s expecting a wave of college assistants to pass through Hallandale starting April 28, when his team holds its first spring practice.
“I’m expecting eight or maybe nine schools to come by a day,” Jones said. “It will be important for a lot of my guys, because this is their chance to get noticed in person, and show what they can do.”
That chance to get evaluated is what makes the spring recruiting period unique. Not only do players have an opportunity to pass the informal shakedown, but the coaches who frequent South Florida are able to lock up Division 1 talent before returning to campus.
Last spring Fort Lauderdale linebacker Jaboree Williams entered the spring evaluation period without an offer. But once a bid came in from South Alabama, other schools quickly followed. The linebacker ended up with 16 offers by the end of May, when he decided to commit to Wake Forest.
Both Richard Williams and Levine hope to follow a tale similar to the one of Jaboree Williams, but they won’t be the only athletes evaluated. Coaches throughout Broward and Palm Beach Counties are already preparing for the parade of college assistants.
Cypress Bay coach Mark Guandolo said close to 60 different colleges passed through his office last spring, and he’s expecting the same number this year. Stranahan coach Willie Hill — who has eight players ranked inside the Sun Sentinel’s Class of 2015 Megaboard — has had so many inquires, he’s had to start coordinating when certain schools can visit.
“I’ve already got eight missed calls from coaches this morning,” Hill said on Thursday. “Everybody is going to be down next week, you name it.”