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Weekend Primer: Northeast Florida

11/2/2012

The Northeast has always been one of the more intriguing areas of Florida in terms of recruiting. Jacksonville continues to churn out quality prospects while the St. Augustine area really jumped up in relevance in the mid-2000s with state championship programs at St. Augustine High and Ponte Vedra Beach (Fla.) Nease where some guy named Tim Tebow started a strong five-year run for the Nease program.

The Carolinas are especially strong in recruiting the Northeast. Clemson was tough to beat for a couple of years with the signings of Jamie Harper, Kyle Parker, Tony Steward, Rashard Hall and Carlton Lewis (who has graduated from Clemson and is playing his senior year at Southern Illinois). South Carolina, North Carolina and Wake Forest have also continued to recruit well in the area.

Both Florida State and Florida have also carved out a little piece of the area to call their own. The Seminoles have an established pipeline with First Coast High School and will be adding another player from that program, four-star linebacker Tyrell Lyons, to their upcoming class.

Florida hit the jackpot in the mid-2000s with Tebow, James Wilson and Brandon James out of the St. Augustine area but generally tends to do well in the Jacksonville private schools like Trinity Christian and Bishop Kenny, the programs that have produced ESPN 150 prospects Nick Washington and Ahmad Fulwood, respectively. The Gators also broke into FSU’s pipeline at First Coast with a surprising commitment from ESPN 150 linebacker Daniel McMillian.

Northeast players in ESPN 300: 5

Northeast players ranked by ESPN Scouts: 25 (7 non-300 four-star prospects)

Highest ranked prospect in Northeast: DeMarcus Walker, DE, Jacksonville Sandalwood

Top undecided

Malik Greaves, DB, Sandalwood: Greaves was committed to Vanderbilt until earlier this week, now it looks like Auburn, North Carolina, West Virginia and South Florida could all be in play for the four-star safety.

Lexus Walton, RB, Jacksonville (Fla.) Wolfson: The three-star running back was linked to Southern Mississippi earlier in the recruiting process but things have been stagnant for several weeks.

Jordan Hawkins, DT, Wolfson: The 6-2, 270-pound senior has offers from Southern Mississippi and South Alabama but may wait until the end of the season to see what else is out there before deciding.

HONEY BADGER IN PALM BEACH

Former LSU defensive back and Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu found himself in South Florida just days after his most recent arrest in Baton Rouge. Mathieu, known by many as ‘The Honey Badger’, is staying at a place owned by Arizona Cardinals All-Pro Patrick Peterson and appears to be working towards an invite to the NFL Combine.

In the meantime Mathieu took time to visit Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlantic and speak to the players there. It’s unknown what he talked about but by the look at the comments on the Palm Beach Post story his appearance wasn’t well received by those on the outside looking in.

Personally, I tend to look at things from a positive standpoint and hope that this ordeal has inspired Mathieu to change his ways. And in the process if he can relay his experiences to younger players in hopes that they will avoid the pitfalls that have derailed his career I think this could be a good thing.

GAME(S) OF THE WEEK:

Week 10 in Florida is the final week of district competition which means that most of the playoff slots will be filled by Saturday morning with the exception of those headed to Monday night tiebreakers. So here are the games I’m watching:

Believe it or not Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Dwyer might not make the playoffs if they can’t beat a tough Royal Palm Beach (Fla.) team Saturday night.

Palmetto, which is coming off of an embarrassing 62-0 loss to top-ranked Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee, will play Bradenton Southeast for a Class 5A district title. Watch out for junior running backs Jordan Hicks and Cortney Allen.

Fort Myers (Fla.) Dunbar, led by Duke commit Johnell Barnes and Class of 2014 Florida commit Ryeshene Bronson can clinch a district title with a win over Sarasota (Fla.) Booker led by ESPN 300 defensive lineman Eric Mayes.

MAILBAG

I don’t get questions often but I like to answer them when I do so hit me up on Twitter (@CoreyLong) or go the old-school route and drop me an email at coreyespn@gmail.com:

Q: Corey, I am wondering about the Florida Gators recruiting in Miami, it doesn’t seem like they are ever in play for the top Miami kids like Matthew Thomas. What’s with that?

Kerry Quinones, Orlando

A: That’s a good observation Kerry. Florida has had plenty of success around the state and the Gators do get a few from Miami like wide receiver Quinton Dunbar. However, it does seem like the cream of the crop in Miami is choosing between Miami and FSU at the end of the day. I attribute that to the fact that FSU and Miami play every year and have a much deeper connection as Rivals then Florida and Miami, who have only played four times since the mid-80s. Florida does much better north of Miami in Broward and especially Palm Beach County.