Sometimes late is better than never.
In more ways than one, Taeler Porter and Ta’riq Brown are both glad for that.
Biding their time at Immokalee High until an opportunity arose for consistent playing time on the football field as seniors, Porter and Brown flourished in varying ways in 2014, racking up a statistics in an up-and-down year for the Indians.
But even all the yards and touchdowns didn’t lead to major college offers … until late in the process, that is.
On Wednesday, Porter and Brown both signed their National Letter of Intents to join the Indiana State Sycamores football team.
Teammate Jaymon Thomas also signed his Letter of Intent to play for the University of South Florida. He spurned offers from the United States Naval Academy and the University of Illinois.
Thomas is one of two other Southwest Florida signings Wednesday as USF wrapped up its 2015 recruiting class, which is ranked 62nd in the nation according to 24/7 Sports.
For the 5-foot-9 and 190 pound Porter, who gained more than 1,500 yards and scored 11 touchdowns at running back, it was a nerve-wracking few weeks before National Signing Day.
It wasn’t until a few weeks prior, when Indiana State head coach Mike Sanford visited Immokalee, that he offered both Porter and Brown scholarships after seeing them over the spring game and over tape.
“He was in the room and spoke to me face-to-face,” said Porter, who will be the first in his family to attend college. “He said, ‘I’m offering you a scholarship.'”
The story was similar for Brown, only Sycamores receiving coach Joe Bever was also in the mix. He was also being recruited by Robert Morris.
Bever had recruited a former Immokalee standout, Rodelin Anthony, to UNLV. Anthony is currently a teacher at Immokalee.
“Once I found out my teammate had an offer,” Brown said, “that made me even more confident. We talked about doing big things. We’ll be more focused. We can support each other, and that helped my decision.”
It will help that Brown and Porter are cousins, they said. Porter believes that connection could ultimately provide an influence on the field as well.
“We’ll have a relationship more now,” Porter said. “We should bring it on to the field.”
As for playing time, Brown is optimistic, too.
“Coach said he would give me opportunities and if I took advantage of those opportunities it’s possible that I could start and play some special teams and kick returns,” he said. “He said it wouldn’t be handed to me though.
Thomas, meanwhile, committed to USF nearly three weeks ago, he said.
The defensive back, who now stands at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, has grown nearly six inches since his sophomore year, when he first envisioned being in this same position.
“This day two years ago, seeing all those boys sign,” Thomas said. “I said I’ll be that one day.”