Dr. Phillips studs enjoying the ride
Demetrius Hart and Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix are enjoying recruiting together
Demetrius Hart (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) is a wanted man. In the world of college football recruiting that's not necessarily a bad thing.
But when schools like Michigan, Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech are willing to roll out the red carpet for the 5-foot-9 running back, it can be a little overwhelming.
"It can be a little crazy," Hart added. "The phone never stops ringing."
The problem is compounded when there's a good chance that the one calling is his teammate -- Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix.
Clinton-Dix, a four-star safety ranked No. 26 in the ESPNU 150, has already committed to Alabama and he doesn't want to be the only member of the Dr. Phillips team to head to Tuscaloosa next year.
"I'm in his ear every day," Clinton-Dix said. "I want him to come up there with me and the coaches there want him bad. They've got a spot ready for him right now. He's just got to show up."
When it comes to football, Hart usually shows up and sometimes he's been known to stand out. In Dr. Phillips' spring game against East Ridge (Clermont, Fla.), he scored four touchdowns.
And he plans to show up for visits at the top three schools on his list -- Michigan, Alabama and Auburn. Each school has positives and listening to Hart describe what he loves about each program makes it sound as though a three-way tug-of-war is ready to commence.
Michigan: "They are in a moment of rebuilding so they are going after the guys they really want," Hart said. "Most of the top programs are recruiting to fill a hole here or there but Michigan needs versatile athletes that can step in and do a lot of things."
Alabama: "Anytime the Crimson Tide shows interest you have to listen," Hart said. "Nick Saban is one of the best coaches in the nation, probably in the recent history of college football. And the SEC is the nation's dominant conference."
Auburn: "I love the offense that they run there. A lot of running backs get an opportunity to carry the ball. The guy fourth on the depth chart may get as many carries as the starter."
All three schools are on his list of official visits, along with in-state schools Florida and Florida State. He is planning to take in the Michigan-UConn game at the beginning of the season with teammate LaQuentin Smith, and both might also go to Ann Arbor for the Michigan-Iowa contest.
Smith, a linebacker/safety product who has more than a dozen offers himself, might have tipped the hand of both players.
"You know we've always wanted to play together," Smith said. "I mean if we get up to Michigan and everything is going well and we feel comfortable you never know."
As for Clinton-Dix, the only question is which teammates he can convince to go with him.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound safety chose the Crimson Tide over USC, Florida, Notre Dame and Nebraska and says it was an easy decision.
"I was always interested in Alabama and I had a great time the first time I visited them," Clinton-Dix said. "But I held off from a commit because everyone is going to show you a lot of love the first time you visit.
"But when I went back 4-5 more times and felt the same level of comfort with the program and the coaches, I just knew this was the place for me."
It also helped that the school was outside of Florida -- something that was important Clinton-Dix.
"I really wanted to get out of the state, I mean I love it here but I've been here since birth," Clinton-Dix said. "It's time to branch out and experience new things. I'm not the only one on the team that feels like that and luckily we all have the God-given talent to have such an opportunity."
As for the on-field program at Alabama, it was a fit for Clinton-Dix's talent and his desire to win.
"They play six defensive backs during the game and that means I'm going to have a chance to play early if I work hard in practice," Clinton-Dix said. "They run the same type of defense that I'm in at Dr. Phillips. And they win championships."
He's not letting anyone forget his college choice either.
"Ha'Sean is always talking about the Tide," Hart said. "We could be on the field doing drills and he'll make a play and say 'Yeah, that's how we do it at the Tide.'"
Between Clinton-Dix's on-field talking and his phone calls to Hart, it would be easy for Hart to lean toward one school, but he has former teammates weighing in as well. Class of 2010 Michigan signee Ricardo Miller played with Hart until moving to Ann Arbor for his senior year and also has maintained communication with Hart.
"Yeah Ricardo is always calling me up and talking up the Wolverines," Hart said. "It's all in good fun. Everyone knows it's my decision and they respect that. We are just a big family at Phillips and we want to support each other."
The Dr. Phillips family is spreading wider each year and it's going to be a regular occurrence for the former teammates to line up next to each other or against each other.
"You look at Ricardo and Lo Wood [who played two years at Dr. Phillips before transferring to Apopka] at Notre Dame and Nico [Ranieri] at Colorado State and we're everywhere," Clinton-Dix said. "I've known a lot of them for years. Some in AAU track and others in Pop Warner football and it's all a lot of fun. If I get a chance to play against some of them it's going to be like a fun day in the park."
Right now Hart and Clinton-Dix are joining other teammates in training with Tom Shaw at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex and preparing for the Nike 7ON National Tournament in Beaverton, Ore.
Even with constant recruiting, training and summer competitions, Hart and Clinton-Dix haven't lost sight of what they are working toward in their senior season. With at least a half-dozen FBS prospects on the squad, both players have their eyes on a state championship.
"I think we're going to go to state," Hart said. "We had some great players and we're going to play for each other this year and try to win one for Orlando.
"What happens next is anyone's guess."
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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