Before I resume my two-week odyssey and bring you up to date with my observations and evaluations from Florida, let me mention two things of immediate importance:
1. Fremd center Brian Bobek has been offered by Ohio State. That is a major catch for the youngster. I don't know that he had any other offers up to then. He and his father made unofficial visits to Purdue and Ohio State. After Ohio State coaches reviewed Bobek's tape, they offered a scholarship immediately.
2. The Bobek case demonstrates how important it is for athletes and their parents to travel right now. Take as many unofficial visits to college campuses as possible. If you think you are a Division I prospect, call ahead and tell the schools that you are coming and request for a tour by a college coach or graduate assistant. If you think you are a Division II or III player, call those schools.
Why is it important to visit now? Because decisions are made between now and July 1. You want to be sure you are in the race. If a college thinks you are a great prospect, they will come to see you. But they may not know about you. They like to see a player in person and on film before extending a scholarship offer.
Florida, as usual, is loaded with talent. And it is interesting to note that Purdue and Michigan are making the biggest impression of all Big 10 schools. Purdue coach Danny Hope is from Miami and has many ties in Florida from his coaching days at Louisville, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Eastern Kentucky.
Illinois has taken a dip. I don't see as many offers from Illinois, not as many as in recent years. But Illinois is active. So are Ohio State and Notre Dame.
As I've stated earlier, James Wilder of Plant High School in Tampa is not only the No. 1 player in Florida but he is the No. 1 player in the nation. The 6-2, 225-pound running back/linebacker, who was All-State at both positions last season, is the son of former All-NFL running back James Wilder of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has offers from every major school but he seems to be leaning to Florida.
There are three other candidates for the No. 1 ranking in the nation--6-6, 250-pound defensive end Jadeveon Clowney of Rock Hill, N.C., running back Kenny Hilliard of Patterson, La., and 6-7, 320-pound offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio of Hyattsville, Md.
In Florida, Illinois, Michigan and Purdue are among 30 schools that have offered 6-2, 180-pound wide receiver/safety Sammie Watkins of South Fort Myers. His brother signed with Florida earlier this month. He has 4.3 speed.
Illinois also is interested in 6-1, 180-pound running back/safety Marcus Roberson of Fort Lauderdale.
Purdue and Michigan State have offered 6-5, 225-pound tight end Jeff Heuerman of Naples, whose father played basketball at Michigan.
Iowa, Purdue, Notre Dame, Alabama, Miami and Florida State are among several schools that have offered 6-6, 240-pound defensive end Aaron Lynch of Cape Coral. He recorded 16 sacks as a junior.
The best offensive lineman in Florida is 6-5, 285-pound Bobby Hart of Fort Lauderdale, who has been offered by Florida, Florida State, Miami and Tennessee. His teammate, wide receiver Phil Dorsett, who has 10.6 speed for 100 meters, has an offer from Ohio State.
Purdue is the only Big 10 school that has offered 6-4, 235-pound tight end/defensive end Clay Burton of Venice. His brother Trey, a quarterback, signed with Florida earlier this month.
Wayne Lyons, a 6-1, 190-pound safety from Fort Lauderdale who was the defensive MVP at the U.S. Army combine in San Antonio in January, has 30 offers. On of the premier players in the nation, he is leaning to Notre Dame.
Other players to watch are quarterbacks Jeff Driskel of Oviedo and Teddy Bridgewater of Miami, who has offers from the Florida schools, Rutgers and Tennessee, and cornerback Lamarcus Brutus of Port St. Lucie.