The state of Florida has always been known for producing big-time football talent. When many think of where the top talent in the Sunshine State lies they think of South Florida, Jacksonvile, Tampa, Orlando or Tallahassee. One place, however, that is becoming more and more of a must stop for college recruiters is the Pensacola area. And there's no school in the Pensacola area that is loaded more than Pensacola High, which boasts six legitimate Division I prospects for the class of 2006.
Perhaps the most celebrated prospect and the one already known to most fans and college coaches is linebacker LaBrandon Glover.
"LaBrandon has great speed and he just has a knack for getting to the football," Pensacola head coach Mike Bennett said. "He is just a tremendous football player. He led our team in tackles as a junior and that is pretty impressive considering the level of competition that he is playing against."
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Glover runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, has a 330-pound bench press and 500-pound squat. He collected 133 tackles, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as a junior.
"Mississippi State has already sent him an offer in writing," Bennett said. "There have been a lot of other schools calling and asking about him. He has been receiving mail from a lot of programs not only around the South, but the country. LaBrandon is certainly a very special player and he has the potential to really do some big things."
Another top prospect that many fans may already be familiar with is running back Courtney Jones, who rushed for 1,427 yards and 15 touchdowns on 126 carries (11.2 ypc).
"He is a big kid and he is very strong and very physical," Bennett said. "He has very good speed for a guy his size and he uses his size to his advantage. One thing that he does really well that is hard to find is that he catches the ball extremely well out of the backfield."
The 6-foot-0, 205-pound Jones runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, has a 315-pound bench press and 500-pound squat. He received an early offer from Mississippi State and gave his commitment to coach Croom and the Bulldog staff Monday afternoon.
While it is hard to find a running back with the talent of a guy like Jones, every good back must have a good offensive line and you won't find many better than the one at Pensacola, who have the size that would make most Division I-AA schools jealous.
Offensive tackle Josh Wright, who is 6-foot-4, 297 pounds, may be the gem here, but the other tackle on the line James Richardson and center John Andrews are also players that will be receiving a lot of interest this spring and fall.
"Josh is a big, physical offensive lineman with very good feet," Bennett said. "He is going to start at offensive tackle for us this fall and I think he will make a smooth transition to offensive tackle on the college level as well."
While Wright holds down one side of the line, Richardson anchors the other. At 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, he's slightly smaller, but all that means is that he has a great frame to grow.
"James is a very good pass blocker," Bennett said. "He has really long arms and he knows how to use his body. He's real smart and he is not locked into a certain position. I think he could play on either side of the line, but I feel like right offensive tackle is his best position."
The trend with centers on the college level seems to be that they are getting smaller and quicker, but Andrews, who checks in at 6-foot-4, 283 pounds, is one of the old school variety.
"John transferred here from Escambia," Bennett said. "He was originally with us in the ninth grade and then he transferred over there and now he is back over here again. He is very strong, I think that is his best quality and he is also very physical. I think he is going to play center on the next level because you don't find many guys as big as him that are as natural at the position as he is."
Though they are often overlooked in recruiting circles, kickers can be the difference between a win and a loss in football and Pensacola has one that could be a difference maker for some college programs.
Brett Bennett is a 6-foot-0, 180-pound punter who averaged 43 yards per kick as a junior.
"When you look at the numbers he put up it is amazing," Mike Bennett said. "We do so much angle punting that it is hard for him to really kick those big boomers, but there were times this year when he was able to let loose and really kick it. He's a good athlete and plays some other positions for us, but colleges will look at him as a punter."