ORLANDO -- The Florida prospects at running back in the Class of 2013 will be among the best in the nation. With ESPNU 150 Watch List players like Derrick Henry (Yulee, Fla./Yulee), Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Day) and Adam Lane (Winter Haven, Fla./Winter Haven), there is plenty of competition at the top.
Add Orlando Boone RB A.J. Turman to that list. The 6-foot, 198-pound junior had high expectations this season and has lived up to everything so far.
“He's going to be a real good one,” said Boone coach Phil Ziglar. “His numbers are good and he's doing it behind a group of offensive linemen that are all underclassmen and all in their first year starting.”
Turman cracked the 1,000-yard mark after rushing for 137 yards and three touchdowns in a victory over Orlando East River last Friday.
“It was a good game for me,” Turman said. “It was probably one of our best games of the season as a team.”
Ziglar expected Turman to have some difficulties early this year behind a new offensive line but the coach has been impressed with his running back's toughness and resolve.
“He had his first 200-yard game earlier this season and the blocking still wasn't where we like for it to be,” Ziglar said. “And every week since he's went over a 100 yards and he's done it against the meat of our schedule.”
Turman says much of his success comes from the program's offseason conditioning program and running track.
“My breakaway speed has gotten better and I credit that to going through track last year,” Turman said. “My yards after contact has also gotten a lot better. And that's thanks to the weight lifting and all the conditioning we do here.”
There's no surprise that virtually every school in the Southeast has sent information to Turman. Florida State, Boston College, Florida Atlantic and NC State have all offered. Turman says Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame and Duke are some of the other schools that have keep in touch.
Turman attended the FSU camp this summer and hears a lot about the Seminoles from one of his teammates.
“Marvin Bracy is committed to FSU and he's one of my best friends so he's always talking about them and talking about us playing together,” Turman said.
He has been on the FSU campus this fall to watch the Seminoles play Oklahoma. He also traveled to Auburn and will be in attendance for the Alabama-LSU clash this weekend.
“I definitely interested in both programs,” Turman said. “love how LSU and Alabama run the ball and that's the type of offense I want to be in – a pro-style situation when the backs get a lot of opportunities.”
Harrell following huge footsteps
Class of 2011 ESPNU 150 running back Demetrius Hart> set state and national records in leading Orlando Dr. Phillips to the Class 6A state championship game. Hart left for Alabama and handed the ball to junior Eric Harrell.
So far the results have been pretty good as Harrell has 669 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the year.
“It's kind of cool to be the guy in the backfield now,” Harrell said. “I spent a lot of time watching Dee and learning about making the right decisions on the field.”
The 5-9, 180-pounder says he grew up as a fan of Miami and Florida State, he has no offers let but he's getting a lot of letters of interest and expects something to come through soon.
“I'm not really worried about it yet,” Harrell added. “I have plenty of time.”
Harrell hopes his versatility will be an asset.
“I think I can excel in several different types of offenses,” Harrell said. “We run a lot of spread and a lot of I-formation/pro style stuff here so I'm learning how to play in both.”
Carter, Swanson stands out
There are several solid underclassmen at Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson, highlighted by wide receiver Eric Carter.
After losing two 1,000-yard rushers last season, Lake Gibson has turned to the passing game and the chemistry between Carter and sophomore quarterback Trey Congdon has helped the Braves return to the playoffs.
Carter has 39 catches for 713 yards and six touchdowns on the season while Congdon leads the area in passing yards (1,560) and is second in touchdowns (15).
“Eric has definitely stepped up and has really become one of the best receivers I've had during my time at this program,” said Lake Gibson coach Keith DeMyer, who is in his 12th season with the program. “We thought he was going to be a good one and he's turned out to be even better than we expected. All the big schools are on him.”
DeMyer also has another standout on the defensive line in Kennard Swanson. The 6-1, 250-pounder has 10 sacks on the season and has stood out on a line that features Tennessee commit Trenton Taylor and FBS prospect Devante Terrell.
“They are all good and play so well together but Kennard can just turn it on and be unblockable,” DeMyer said. “He's a great athlete because he'll play offensive line for us and we're not afraid to line him up at fullback and call some power rushes for him.”
DeMyer said Ohio State was one of the first schools to contact Swanson and several followed.
“Once Ohio State called, more of the schools from the Southeast followed,” DeMyer said. “Some people had questions about his height but then they see him play. He'll get into a strong program.”