For all the recruiting attention Darrian Felix received as a running back in the spring, the Fort Myers junior’s first scholarship offer two years ago came with the thought of him playing defense at the next level.
Indiana viewed Felix as a cornerback.
The Hoosiers weren’t wrong.
Felix, the News-Press’ fourth-ranked recruit in Southwest Florida, has shown flashes of greatness at the position, shutting down some of the area’s top receivers. One of the more versatile players in the state, he made a name for himself with the ball in his hands — with limited touches last season — showing up in the biggest of games.
“He’s not scared by the moment. In fact, he rises to the moment,” Fort Myers coach Sammy Sirianni said of Felix.
The offers continue to pour in with Miami, West Virginia, Florida Atlantic and South Florida tossing their hats into the ring. It’s an impressive haul for a back who spent last year waiting his turn behind prolific rusher Terrance Moore.
Yet, Felix still managed 20 touchdowns even as the Green Wave, which finished 12-1 in 2014, played six games with a running clock in the second half.
He shined against top competition. Felix combined for eight touchdowns against Charlotte, South Fort Myers and in a playoff game with Melbourne. His 99-yard kickoff return was the lone bright spot in a regional semifinal loss to Tarpon Springs East Lake.
As another Golden Era of Southwest Florida running backs takes shape this season, Felix finds himself in the discussion with Naples’ Carlin Fils-Aime and North Fort Myers’ Zaquandre White as to who top back in the area is.
Felix said the glut of talent should be celebrated.
“This is what we do. We have the best running backs in the state right now,” Felix said. “I think Southwest Florida has the best backs all over the country.”
Meanwhile, Sirianni is quick to point out why his guy stands out.
“The thing about Darrian is how versatile he is,” Sirianni said. “And he has a skill set that’s second to none.”
In addition to his work in the secondary and offensive backfield, college recruiters noticed 5-foot-10, 189-pound Felix’s skilled route running while split out at receiver.
Last season, knowing Moore would receive the lion’s share of the carries, Sirianni reminded his assistants weekly to find different ways to get Felix the ball.
“I didn’t want to look at the stat sheet and see Darrian didn’t get any touches,” Sirianni said. “That won’t be much of a problem this year.”
About The Big 15
Since July 3, The News-Press has published a profile on a standout football recruit every Tuesday and Friday. Players going into their junior and senior years were considered from both Lee and Collier counties, with respect paid to those with hard scholarship offers and those without who possess great potential. The top 15 candidates were named and ranked, with the last story focusing on the very best recruit in Southwest Florida.