Chris Hays: Athletes at small private schools rack up offers.
Orlando Christian Prep football coach Guerschom Demosthenes
always has said that if a player deserved attention from college recruiters, they would find him, regardless of the size of the school. His belief is coming true for numerous small private-school football players across the Orlando area.
“It doesn’t matter where a player is. If they’re committed to the program and they stick to it, they will develop into what they can be,” Demosthenes said. “I’m a firm believer that if you are good enough and are playing at a high level and creating value about yourself, they will find you . ... If you create good news about yourself on Friday nights, they will come find you.”
Class of 2019 OCP wide receiver/cornerback Xavier Weaver, who has been picking up Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offers, is backing up Demosthenes’ philosophy.
Following a recent visit to Troy, Weaver added to his list with an offer from the Trojans to give him four FBS offers. The other three are from Texas-San Antonio, Middle Tennessee State and East Carolina, so far, and he also has offers from Football Championship Subdivision schools.
It’s a big deal for a guy like Weaver, a talented athlete on both sides of the ball. The 6-foot-1, 165-pounder had a nice junior season with 43 catches as a receiver for 929 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also had 17 tackles and an interception on defense.
He said he’d prefer to play receiver in college, but he will play wherever a college wants him to play as long as it’s the right fit.
“I feel pretty good. It’s a blessing to get all these offers out of nowhere and it just shows that hard work pays off,” Weaver said.
He isn’t the only player at OCP gaining attention, with seniors-to-be running back Jalen Carr (5-9, 163) and cornerback Arnell Walker (5-11, 170) as well as 2020 WR B.J.
Wagner (6-2, 185) also turning some heads. Wagner is the son of former Orlando Predators standout Barry Wagner and he picked up an early offer from Texas A&M last year.
“It’s pretty good because everybody looks down on OCP and they don’t think we have talent, but we actually have a lot of talent,” Weaver said. “For them to actually notice is a pretty good feeling.
“The college coaches usually go to the bigger schools and some college coaches say they’ve never heard of our school, so it can be a little difficult, but our coach does a really good job exposing us.”
OCP isn’t the only private schools with stars in the making. The Orlandoarea small school player who stands out the most is Mount Dora Christian linebacker Jesiah Pierre, who is committed to Miami but also mulling offers from other schools like Georgia and Florida. FSU is also expected to offer the 6-foot-3, 220-pound star a scholarship.
Faith Christian also has athletes receiving attention in cornerback/running back Makai Burris (5-11, 180), defensive end
Jason Terry (6-0, 185) and sophomore receiver Andre Cooper II (6-4, 170). Winter Park Trinity Prep quarterback Spencer
Fetter, a 6-foot-3, 170-pounder who is an extremely accurate passer and excellent decisionmaker, has shined and is getting the most attention this spring. Fetter, however, has yet to receive an FBS offer. His high academic profile, however, has gained him offers from schools like Harvard, Brown and Cornell, among others.
Trinity Prep, meanwhile, could have a star in the making at UCF. Tight end Alec Holler (6-3, 220) was overlooked as a senior this past fall and decided to walk on at UCF. He’s a tough kid with great hands and decent speed for a big guy.
Winter Garden Foundation Academy also has a few prospects, with defensive end Warren Sapp Jr. (6-2, 235), yes, the son of that Warren Sapp, being the biggest one. He’ll likely be piling up offers as spring practice opens Monday.
Over at Orlando First Academy, 2019 wide receiver Alex Shields (6-0, 182) should also start gaining some recruiting traction.
Orlando’s Bishop Moore always has college prospects and this year will be no different, with Timber Creek transfer athlete
Caleb Blake already picking up offers from schools like UCF, and 2019 classmate wide recevier Dylan Brazil, running back Jake Kiefer and lineman Andrew Butler also primed for attention. Faith Christian coach
Andre Dobson said offers for some of his athletes are close and he’s expecting some to come in during spring practice.
“We’re still waiting. Guys have been visiting different schools, but nothing yet,” Dobson said of scholarship offers. “I definitely think we’re getting a ton of action. It’s just that nobody has pulled the trigger yet. I am excited about this spring and when we go over and play Trinity Prep, with the amount of noise their quarterback is creating, there will be quite a few coaches around checking everything out.”
Orlando Christian Prep WR/CB Xavier Weaver has been picking up offers from Football Bowl Subdivision schools.