Some would argue that the best state to recruit football players is my home state of Florida and statistically, we are the best but there will always be screams from California, Texas and Ohio about them producing better quality talent.
One of the areas that quietly contributes to the state of Florida’s annual success at producing talent is Fort Myers, Florida. This area of southwest Florida has produced hundreds of college football players and 30+ NFL players including one of the best running backs to ever play in college or the NFL, former Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals RB Edgerrin James (Immokalee High School), one the best defensive ends of this era, Jevon Kearse (North Fort Myers High School) and arguably the best athlete to ever play any sport, Deion Sanders (North Fort Myers High School).
These three guys had great careers in the NFL and are retired now but the tradition continues with names like Miami Dolphins safety Nate Allen (Cape Coral High School) and two more South Fort Myers High School graduates Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins and Minnesota Vikings Safety Jayson Kearse, cousin of Jevon Kearse.
While this is great production, the market is still untapped. After speaking with Dunbar High School head coach Sam Brown, he told me that about 40 schools came by last year mostly to see highly recruited LB Shanon Reid (pictured above), now a true freshman at the University of Tennessee. Dunbar is one of the better teams in Lee County but you wouldn’t know it by the college coach turnout. I’ve been to two Dunbar High School games one during the spring and the fall and I saw a total of three college coaches. You would think that 40 is a great number but when you look at counties like Broward and Dade, some of the worst high school teams in the area get a visit from a minimum of 40 schools every spring and 4-5 colleges a game during the fall.
In this day and age of recruiting, it’s all about who can get the most exposure and the little bit of light that does shine on Fort Myers and it’s prospects comes from those who have the money to travel two hours to Tampa to be seen at a national exposure camp or to participate in a camp at the closest Division I university (University of South Florida) to earn a scholarship offer. For those who don’t have the money or a ride to these camps in the bigger cities, will just have to hope to be discovered by a college coach that happens to come in to see the schools major prospect that was able to make the camp during the spring and/or fall.
In this business, most college coaches are coming to see the major prospects that they see on a list from recruiting services or big names they’ve heard from other college coaches. Hardly anyone ever comes to see the “sleeper” prospects at the school and if the high school coach doesn’t tell the college coach about a player, he will continue to go unrecognized.
I understand that there are many untapped markets around the state of Florida, as well as around the country and while this area has been ignored by tons of colleges, the amount of production can’t be. If college coaches want to find ball players and win they need to stop making excuses, wake up and dig into this untapped market named Fort Myers.
Here are a handful guys from Fort Myers in the Class of 2018 that will be names to watch this season
60 scholarship offers between them
1. Jeshaun Jones, WR, South Fort Myers High School (top left)
2. Chris Curry, RB, Lehigh High School (top right) – Committed to LSU
3. Shocky Jacques-Louis, WR, Dunbar High School (bottom left)
4. Rocky Jacques-Louis, DE, Dunbar High School (bottom right)