- Corey Long, Reporter, RecruitingNation
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After strong events at UCF and USF, the 7-on-7 season is in full swing and the focus shifts to Palm Beach County where the 6th Annual Heath Evans Foundation 7-on-7 Championship will be held Saturday at King's Academy in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The tournament is invite only and this year's 16-team field includes 2010 state champions Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas and Miami Central along with state runners-up Tampa Plant and South Daytona Warner Christian.
The 2010 tournament champion, Miramar, returns but the team they beat, Belle Glade Glades Central, has opted to participate in this weekend's two-day event run by the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots will be led by ESPNU 150 prospects Tracy Howard and Malcolm Lewis.
"The Heath Evans event is definitely my favorite event of the summer because we get to compete against a lot of teams we won't get a chance to see during the regular season," Plant defensive backs coach Bo Puckett said. "It's an extremely competitive event, and win or lose I find that the team usually comes out of this tournament much improved."
Aquinas was a late addition when Orlando Dr. Phillips had to bow out due to transportation issues.
Fuller talks Illinois commitment
Defensive back Tajarvis Fuller (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar) took himself off the market this week when he committed to Illinois after a two-day visit on the campus.
"I got up there Monday and took a tour of the whole campus, everything was beautiful, and I was happy to commit," Fuller said.
Illinois head coach Ron Zook and his staff always have made a good impression on the prospects in the Sunshine State and the 6-foot, 180-pound safety was no different.
"Coach Zook is a real cool guy and I had some time to talk with him one-on-one along with the rest of the staff," Fuller said. "The relationship between me and the coaches is strong, and I feel real comfortable with everything in Illinois."
Fuller said UCF, Iowa State and Indiana were in his final group. During the process, Fuller wasn't shy in admitting that Miami was his favorite school but says things with him and the Hurricanes didn't work out.
"Miami was definitely No. 1, but everyone has to move on and I found the best situation for me," Fuller said. "Now I'm going to fly around the field and attack the football for Illinois. You know how I play. I'm going to try to make things happen, but I'm going to stay within what Coach Zook wants me to do."
There is a possibility Fuller will be joined by teammate Christian Brown at some point. The 6-1, 280-pound defensive tackle has an offer from Illinois as well, but a family emergency kept him from making the trip with Fuller.
As for Fuller's recruitment, he says he will take some more visits but plans to sign with the Illini.
"Coach Zook understands that I'm going to take a few more visits and he supports it," Fuller said. "He trusts me and I trust him so it's all good.
Holloway preps for Miami camp
Despite running a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at Florida's camp this week Brandon Holloway (Tampa/Alonso) doesn't believe a Florida offer will be coming.
"I think I made a lot of plays, but there's a small chance they will offer," Holloway said. "I don't believe they are taking too many more athletes in the class of 2012. But we'll see what happens."
The 5-8, 160-pound speedster still has plenty of other options to choose from including Arizona State, Iowa State, Troy, Temple and Florida International. He will be camping down in Miami this weekend.
"They have shown a lot of interest and I'm looking forward to going down there and showing the coaches what I can do," Holloway said.
Holloway is spending this summer focusing on football after a strenuous track schedule during the spring.
"I'm in the weight room and working on a lot of things that are specific to playing wide receiver," Holloway said. "When I focus on track I tend to lose a lot of weight so I want to keep my weight up so I can perform at my best."
After the Miami camp there's a lull in Holloway's schedule, and he's hoping the fill the time with more camping opportunities. However, he is heading to Mississippi State at the end of July and says there is a good chance the Bulldogs will be among his final group.
"I'd like to make a decision before my senior year begins," Holloway said. "I think Mississippi State and Vanderbilt are right there."
Q: Hello Corey, with the Seminoles losing out on Brian Poole (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast) what are the next options for them at cornerback?
A: Hey Kelly, the Seminoles have several options from here. Miramar's Tracy Howard continues to be the top player on the board and certainly someone the Seminoles will continue to go after aggressively. The Seminoles also could choose to go the junior college route after the successful transition made by Mike Harris. They aren't going to let Poole go quietly either (remember Nick Waisome?). FSU probably will take only two cornerbacks from this class, so they will go after the elite prospects until the very end.
Q: Hey Corey, how could Florida let Mike Blakely (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee) transfer to Auburn? Didn't he sign a letter of intent? Why would the Gators let him transfer to another SEC school?And Dunkley to USF? Man, that great-looking class Meyer brought in a few years ago, the majority of those guys have transferred out.
Evan K. Gibson
A: Hello Evan, Florida, more specifically head coach Will Muschamp, allowed Blakely an opportunity to attend Auburn, which most believe was the school he really wanted to commit to the first time. Normally this doesn't happen, but I think it was a smart bit of gamesmanship on Muschamp's part to strengthen his reputation with the high schools in Bradenton. Florida recently received a verbal from Poole and has its eyes on Manatee junior quarterback Cord Sandberg. I think Muschamp looks very good in the eyes of elite players and coaches in that area based on his treatment of Blakely. There was a good chance Blakely was going to go to a junior college for a year and transfer to Auburn anyway.
Dunkley is a similar situation although I question whether he chose to transfer or was recommended to transfer. He was already suspended for academic reasons. His former high school coach Blaze Thompson was quoted in the Palm Beach Post as saying, "I wouldn't blame Urban [Meyer] or Muschamp [for the transfer]. It's just poor decision-making by the player."
Both Blakely and Dunkley will sit out the 2011 season. Blakely will have a chance to face the Gators next season, but Dunkley's eligibility will expire before USF travels to Florida in 2015. As for the rest of Meyer's 2010 class, there have been some departures (Dunkley, Jon Dowling, Demar Dorsey and Jordan Haden) but several key parts remain.
Q: Hey Corey, now that you've had a chance to see the ESPNU 150, do you believe any more Florida prospects can be added on the updates?
A: Hey Matthew, I think Matt Jones (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) is a real good possibility if he's healthy. There's little doubt in Jones' talent and if he has the sort of season I think he will, he'll move up quickly. Tight end Sean Price (Citra, Fla./North Marion) could also be a big mover if he has a strong start to the season. I'm not sure if wide receiver D'Vario Montgomery (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park) will make it into the 150, but I feel certain that he'll gain a fourth star this year.
Several top teams will gather in West Palm Beach for the Heath Evans 7-on-7 tournament.