Kenny Bishop caught a pass and was wrapped up in a routine tackle except for one thing. His foot was broken.
That quickly, Bishop, the top holdover from South Fort Myers High’s stout secondary the year before and doubling as a receiver in an early game last fall against East Lee County, was no longer a top recruit.
“As soon as I broke my foot, the calls stopped coming, the letters stopped coming. That was that,” said Bishop, who signed on Wednesday with Youngstown State, a top FCS (formerly I-AA) team in Ohio.
“It was hard. But at the same time I still have an opportunity play Division-I schools and show them what I’ve got. It’s their loss. That’s how I feel.”
Bishop, who was joined at Wednesday’s ceremony by teammates Jayron Kearse (Clemson) and Joe Fennell (Western Kentucky), didn’t return until the tail end of the season, when South lost in the playoffs to Naples.
By then, his 40-yard dash time had slipped from 4.5 seconds, and Sun Belt Conference school Middle Tennessee State was the only FBS (formerly I-A) program offering a scholarship.
With Kearse in the secondary helping scare teams from throwing the ball, Bishop had no chance to match his six interceptions as a junior. But the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder, who has his 40 time back to 4.6 and continues rehabbing his foot, is resolute in his long-term football dreams.
“I feel like I’m going to play more going to FCS,” Bishop said. “If I went to (an FBS school), I probably would have sat out a year or two. I’m going to work hard and see what it brings.”
After backing away from commitments to Auburn and Miami, Kearse kept his promise to sign with Clemson. The 6-4, 205-pound star will begin his career at safety despite his long-time interest at receiver.
“My Pop Warner years I played receiver,” Kearse said. “Then as I got to high school I realized that I didn’t like to be hit. I wanted to be the one doing the hitting. But if I could, I would want to play both ways in college.”
Kearse – the nephew of former North Fort Myers, Florida and NFL defensive star Jevon Kearse – follows former South star Sammy Watkins to Clemson. But he said Watkins didn’t impact his choice.
Prized Immokalee High cornerback Mackensie Alexander also signed with Clemson.
Like other D-I signees, the 6-4, 290-pound Fennell has NFL dreams. But without prompting, the defensive tackle calls earning his degree his true goal at Western Kentucky.
“I was thinking about broadcasting, or being a photographer, taking pictures, something new,” he said. “Something in sports probably.”