Leonard Williams looks for FSU offer
Mainland (Daytona Beach, Fla.) DE's stock rising as Noles get an up-close look
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Defensive lineman Leonard Williams (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) continues to see his stock rise this summer as he travels to camps around the nation.
Williams, who came into camp at 6-foot-3, 257 pounds, got a good look at the FSU campus and then experienced what life would be like in the program.
"This was a real fun camp and a fun day overall," Williams said. "It was really hot, though. I think I got a little dizzy. But I enjoyed working with the coaches and this camp is very hands-on, so I liked that. Coach [D.J.] Eliot really got me working on my inside stuff and these were things I needed to know."
Williams and several of his teammates were shown around campus by one of their coaches, Terry Anthony, who was part of the famed "Fab Four" receiving corps at FSU in the late 1980s. The exposure to the campus has helped FSU climb into Williams' top group of schools.
"I really don't have a top five yet," Williams said. "I'm mostly considering Florida State, Florida, Auburn and Alabama."
Next stop for Williams is USC, which has special meaning for the Los Angeles-born Williams. He moved to Florida nearly seven years ago.
"I grew up watching the Trojans a little," Williams said. "And Troy Polamalu is one of my favorite players."
Williams has offers from Florida, Clemson, Louisville, Auburn, Cincinnati, Miami and Tennessee. He hopes he worked hard enough to add an FSU offer to his list.
"I think it's coming," Williams said. "But we'll see."
Nearly a year after having a standout performance at the previous FSU camp, wide receiver Brandon Brooks (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) returned in hopes of regaining his status.
The 5-11, 180-pounder lost much of his junior season due to injury but has looked very healthy in his recent return to the field.
"I feel real good right now," Brooks said. "I think I'm at about 95 percent, so I'm good to go. I feel like I did before, maybe even better."
Although Brooks had a difficult time getting on the field last season, he looks at his time away as a necessary learning experience and one that has become part of his motivation this offseason.
"I was able to get as much as I could in terms of learning the game while I was off the field," Brooks said. "I worked hard in rehab and the weight room to recover, so it's back to the field."
Brooks has offers from South Florida, Florida International, Elon and Bethune-Cookman. He might attend Saturday's "Bull's Night" at USF.
"I was always a Florida State fan, but I know they are stacked at receiver right now," Brooks said. "But I like USF so I want to check them out more."
Brooks doesn't plan to commit before his senior season starts.
"I'm going to wait to go through some games and see what shakes down," Brooks said.
Future stars on display
Looking around the FSU practice fields, it was easy to spot some of the nation's brightest rising juniors.
Several of the top Class of 2013 prospects, including wide receiver Richard Benjamin (Tampa, Fla./Middleton) and quarterback Jonathan McCrary (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove), returned after working Sunday evening's session. They were joined by several more strong underclassmen.
Defensive back Sojourn Shelton (Plantation, Fla./Plantation) could be considered the top cornerback in Florida in 2013. The 5-9, 165-pounder had no problem staying with some of the top senior receivers at the event, such as Chris Black (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) and Monty Madaris (Cincinnati/Archbishop Moeller). Shelton is hopeful that an offer will be coming from the Seminoles.
"I have a verbal offer out there, but hopefully we'll see where that is this week," Shelton said. "If the offer is out there and right, I think I could commit here."
One player who did receive an offer today was defensive back Marcell Harris (Groveland, Fla./South Lake). The 6-1, 184-pounder also has offers from Florida, Tennessee and Temple.
It was a long trip for defensive lineman Tashawn Bower (Somerville, N.J./Immaculata), but the 6-4, 228-pounder got plenty of attention from the Seminoles coaching staff. Bower already has offers from Syracuse, Virginia, Rutgers and UConn.
"This was a good opportunity to measure myself against the best players around here," Bower said. "And I enjoyed working with Coach Eliot and working on my technique."
Lincoln trio in attendance
Three Lincoln (Tallahassee, Fla.) teammates, linebacker James Hearns and wide receivers Taj Williams and Reggie Davis, did not participate in Monday's session, but they were on hand to root on teammate Raphael Andrades.
Hearns, a 6-3, 230-pounder, claims nearly 20 offers at this stage.
"Alabama, Georgia, Florida, FSU, Notre Dame, USF, Mississippi State I can't think of all of them," Hearns said. "I've got 20 plus. My coach told me that today."
The Lincoln team is returning from Alabama, where it participated in camps and 7-on-7 events.
"It was a great chance to compete at a high level and see a lot of different offensive schemes," Hearns said.
Although some schools originally recruited Hearns as a defensive end, it appears that he has settled into being a middle linebacker.
"I played a lot of defensive end when I was younger, but it's not the position for me," Hearns said. "I think most teams can now see me as a middle linebacker."
Although Hearns and his teammates took a break Monday, there is a good chance they will participate in next month's FSU camp. Until then, expect their offseason to remain busy.
"There's a one-day camp up in Georgia that I think I'm going to take part in," Hearns said. "Really the main thing I'm trying to focus on is working with my teammates this offseason."
Williams, a 6-4, 185-pounder, has offers from Florida, Alabama, Louisville, South Florida and UCF. Davis has offers from Notre Dame and Florida.
Other camp notes
• ESPNU 150 running back Barry Sanders Jr. (Oklahoma City/Heritage Hall) was present at the camp and spent plenty of time around the FSU coaches. He might work out in Tuesday's session. Florida State, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Notre Dame are among the schools that have given offers to the 5-10, 185-pounder.
• Defensive back Willie Bailey (Hallandale, Fla./Hallandale) took part in the morning sessions but sat out in the afternoon after twisting his ankle. When he was on the field, the 6-foot, 170-pounder made life difficult for receivers with his long arms. Once a Miami commit, Bailey switched to Florida during the spring but quickly quieted any rumors of another change. "I'm very solid to UF," Bailey said.
• Eric Kinsey (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna) is still trying to prove that he could be a linebacker, but even the 6-3, 250-pounder admits that his future is most likely at defensive end. "I am just growing too fast. I'm going to have to tell Mom to stop cooking and let me starve for a few days," Kinsey said.
• Class of 2013 defensive back T.J. Gurley (Cairo, Ga./Cairo) found himself shifting around a bit Monday. The 5-9, 193-pounder worked with the safeties in the morning but moved himself to linebacker by the afternoon. "I play linebacker with my high school so I wanted to work out there and learn some new things," Gurley said. The rising junior is getting interest from schools across the board, but believes Troy and Middle Tennessee will be the first to offer.
• Defensive back Donaldven Manning (Miami/Central), a Virginia Tech commit, participated in the Monday afternoon session along with teammates Brian Nicholson and Class of 2014 running back Joseph Yearby. Yearby says he has been in regular communication with 2011 FSU signee Devonta Freeman. "He's loving it here and I think he's happy with his choice and the way the coaches treat him," Yearby said of Freeman.
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