Class of 2014 running back prospect Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage) surprised many when he jumped on the field for a full workout in June at the first session of camp at Florida State.
It was his first time on the field since suffering a torn ACL in August 2011, and it turned out to be his only workout of the summer. However, one workout was all anyone needed in order to see that the 5-foot-11, 205-pound junior was back.
"I had just planned to go to FSU and watch things since a couple of my teammates were working out," Michel said. "But I was sick of watching and I just needed to do something. It was time to come back."
Now a week into training camp, Michel has strapped on the pads and is going through full contact practices. He's not wearing a red jersey, and he welcomes the physical play from his teammates.
"It's so exciting to be back out there with my teammates and just playing again," Michel said. "I was happy to take a couple of hits and bounce right back up. I tell my teammates to bring it because I'm as good as I was before. Maybe a little better."
Despite the injury, Michel was not spared a break from recruiting. Programs including Florida State, Miami, Alabama and USC are showing major interest in Michel since he finished the eighth grade. These days Michel doesn't give away his full number of offers but it's believed that there isn't a program in the nation that would turn him day.
And while FSU, Miami, Alabama and USC are still the programs that stand out, another school has actively jumped in the mix.
"I would say out of all the schools that have offered, Georgia has really stood out for me," Michel said. "They have a great coaching staff and the environment around the program and around the campus is so positive."
Michel said that despite the increased attention he will be receiving this year and in the next several months as the spotlight on his recruitment burns brighter, he will not give in to the pressure.
"I'm just going to continue to do what I do and not think about it too much," Michel said. "I value being part of this team and not trying to separate myself from anyone or deal with too much of my recruitment through the media."
Michel says he'll be taking several unofficial visits this season. He plans on attending the Florida-Georgia game as well at the Miami-Notre Dame game in Chicago and games at Michigan and Florida State.
Michel is one of the top running backs in a state that could have more elite talent at the position than any other state in the nation.
Future stars: Joseph Yearby, Miami Central (2014): The separation between Michel and Yearby, an FSU commit, gets closer and closer as every day passes. Yearby rushed for over 2,000 yards last year as a sophomore and has the sort of vision that is rare among players his age.
Dalvin Cook, Miami Central (2014): This Clemson commit is the second part of Miami Central's two-headed monster and whereas Yearby provides the vision in between the tackles, Cook brings blazing speed and big-play potential every time he touches the ball.
Jacques Patrick, Orlando Timber Creek (2015): At 6-2, 215 pounds some think Patrick is already a senior but he's just a sophomore. And he might be the top Class of 2015 prospect in the region. Early offers include Florida State, Miami, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and LSU.
Jordan Scarlett, Davie University School (2015): Scarlett will provide top competition for Patrick as the state's best in the class of 2015. The 5-10, 190-pound sophomore will be heavily relied on to control the ground for University School and should post big numbers.
Jonathan Vickers, Tallahassee North Florida Christian (2014): At 5-11, 200 pounds Vickers is primed to be another physical running back at a program with a long history of them. Alabama is his most recent offer, joining Georgia Tech and Clemson.
Senior sleeper: Raphael Webb, Gainesville: Despite 4.5 speed and two years as a starter under his belt, Webb hasn't generated the traction of other running backs with his skill set. His offers include Middle Tennessee, South Alabama and Florida Atlantic but he is hoping a strong senior year will lead to a late surge in recruiting.