JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It's no secret that there is plenty of Division I-A talent at First Coast High School for the Class of 2008. During Monday afternoon's practice session, that talent was on display.
Before Monday, there was little doubt that Florida State linebacker commit Nigel Carr was quick off the ball and could move well in a straight line for a 6-foot-3, 230-pound outside linebacker. There also was little doubt that he had the size to have excellent potential at the collegiate level.
Monday afternoon, Carr showed off advanced lateral movement ability and showed he was excellent in coverage. It validated Carr as a complete player and showed that he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with fellow Florida State commit Nigel Bradham, and the South Florida trio of Marcus Robinson, Etienne Sabino and Jordan Futch, when talking about the state of Florida's top linebacker prospect for this year's class.
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Carr also is a charismatic leader. He encourages his teammates and it's clear that everyone has his respect. There was not one play Monday afternoon where he didn't go 100 percent.
Carr spoke about his decision to become a Nole and how he is trying to help Florida State put together a great recruiting class.
"We want to get it back to where it was in the 90s," he said. "All of us. We all know what it means to be a Nole."
Running back Jermaine Thomas is another Florida State commit on the First Coast roster. Thomas is quick, agile and has an excellent set of hands. This may prompt time in the slot or in an all-purpose running back type of role during his time in college.
Thomas also is a leader on the offensive side of the ball. Because First Coast is breaking in a new quarterback this year, there is a good chance Thomas will have to be the go-to guy in terms of moving the football, at least early.
Thomas talked about his decision and said that he was excited about playing in new Seminole offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher's attack.
The third First Coast prospect with a Florida State scholarship offer is receiver Avis Commack. There was speculation that the 6-foot-4, 180-pounder would commit soon after getting an offer from the Seminoles, but he says now he wants to take a look at Miami, South Carolina and Georgia Tech, in addition to Florida State, before making a final decision.
"I just have to make the best decision for me," he said.
Commack is very quick and elusive for a prospect with his height and build. That gives him the ability to do nice things after the catch.
South Carolina commit Shaq Wilson isn't as big as Carr, but he's fast, built and can hit like a truck. Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier and Jacksonville-area recruiter Steve Spurrier Jr. were on hand to catch the first part of Wilson's practice Monday.
"When I went up there for the spring game, everybody was treating me right, so I committed," Wilson said. "My mother and I both really liked it a lot."
Wilson added that he likes South Carolina defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix, who he got to know during summer camp last year.
"He reminds me of how our coaches here at First Coast do it," he said.
Carr and Wilson aren't the only talented linebackers at First Coast. Leandre Lance isn't the tallest prospect out there, but he's quick and a big hitter. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Lance could play strong safety in college or could grow into a linebacker. He's only 16-years old and may not be finished growing yet.
Lance holds multiple scholarship offers, but one in-state school leads.
"South Florida is my leader," he said.
Lance said he liked the city of Tampa and the familiarity of the program (First Coast camps at USF every summer). He added that an offer from Florida State or South Carolina could change that.
Gary Tinsley isn't playing linebacker right now, but that's the position he likely projects at in college. As a defensive end, he set the First Coast record for sacks in a season last year with 17. He is quick and gets upfield to the ball fast.
"I am not going to think about trying to break my record (this year)," he said. "I am just going to go out there and play my game and it will come to me."
The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder picked up an offer from Arkansas recently.
"I have seen them on TV and seen all of the success that they have had," he said.
Safety Trey Mallory has good ball skills and size. Certain colleges have taken notice as Cincinnati and Memphis have extended scholarship offers. Mallory is interested in the Bearcats and Tigers, but also says he hopes to hear more from Central Florida and South Florida in the future.