As the high school football regular season winds down this week, the recruiting season heats up as visits, new contacts, commits, and de-commits take place every day.
Immokalee quarterback Tshumbi Johnson verbally committed to the University of South Florida earlier this year after one of its junior days, but he switched to another Big East school last week.
“I visited Cincinnati and loved everything about it,” Johnson said. “I’ll get an opportunity at quarterback there, and if that doesn’t work out, I’ll have an opportunity to play in the slot at wide receiver. The coaching staff is confident that I can be very successful in their system.”
Last year Johnson was named the Player of the Year in Southwest Florida by The News-Press, but injuries have kept him on the sideline for the past month. He is expected to be ready for the playoffs.
South Florida remains active at Immokalee with wide receiver Xavier Richardson (who committed on the same day as Johnson) still listed on the Bulls’ commitment list and they are recruiting defensive tackle Deadrin Senat.
Ranked as one of the top cornerbacks in the country, Immokalee’s Mackensie Alexander took his first official visit to Texas A&M two weeks ago.
“I had a great time in College Station and was really impressed with everything about Texas A&M,” Alexander said. “They have a need at cornerback, and I could see myself playing there.”
Alexander says he’s keeping his options open at this point.
“I am really focused on the SEC and ACC schools along with Notre Dame. I’m still very open about a lot of schools and don’t think I will have a decision until signing day,” he said.
Most teams have one regular-season game remaining, and it’s a close race to see who will be the area’s top players statistically.
Island Coast’s Kurt Benkert leads the way at quarterback with 1,959 yards passing (17 TD/4 INT) while Estero’s Christian Phillips is right on his heels with 1,792 yards (13/9).
The battle at running back is significantly closer with six players vying for the area rushing title — Estero’s Eric McFadden leads with 1,349 rushing yards (18 TD). In hot pursuit are Naples’ Manny Morgan (1,247 yards, 21 TDs); Riverdale’s Van Edwards (1,245, 11); Cape Coral’s Eamon Smart (1,219, 8); Fort Myers’ T.J. Douglas (1,053, 15); and Island Coast’s Devon Calhoun (1,047, 10). Morgan will have played one less game than the others due to a cancellation.
The battle is just as tight in receiving yards. Estero’s Nick Nataro leads the way with 514 yards receiving (5 TD), followed by South Fort Myers’ Eddie Collins (495 yards, 6 TDs), Island Coast’s T.J. Johnson (482, 6), Dunbar’s Johnell Barnes (465, 8) and Baker’s Roy Denson (444, 6).
Defensively, Cape Coral’s Curtis Young leads the area with 10 sacks, followed by South Fort Myers’ Travis Beamon (8.5), Baker’s Brian Johnson (8) and Riverdale’s Christian Banasiak (8).
Five players with four interceptions lead the area: Immokalee’s Alexander, Estero’s Ricky Lopez, Naples’ Jules Dorevil, and two players from East Lee County — Kendall Sawyer and Skartz Pierre.