Thursday, December 29, 2011

Poole is solid commit to Florida despite other visits

Brian Poole appears solidly committed to Florida though he plans to take three more visits as allowed by NCAA rules.

The Southeast High senior, who is rated the best cornerback prospect in the country by one publication, has visited Notre Dame and recently Western Kentucky.

He had a home visit from WKU head coach Willie Taggart just before Christmas and said it was a good meeting and he likes the former Manatee High star. However, it didn’t change Poole’s mind about playing for the Gators.

Poole grew up a Florida fan, but perhaps more importantly sees an opportunity to get on the field early and says Gators head coach Will Muschamp told him he expects him to make an impact next season.

One of the state’s most versatile players, Poole excelled this past season as a cornerback, running back and kick returner. He returned punts of 92 and 90 yards for touchdowns, rushed for 439 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had 155 receiving yards and a touchdown and threw for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Poole also had two interceptions, seven pass deflections and 44 tackles, including 20 solos, which were impressive since most teams ran away from his side of the field Southeast head coach Paul Maechtle said.

For his career, Poole returned three interceptions for touchdowns and had 12 picks. He had 212 tackles, including 107 first hits.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rachel Brown eclipses 1,000 point barrier in Smoothie Classic

Rachel Brown broke the 1,000 career scoring barrier, but it wasn't enough to help her host Bradenton Christian team avoid a 52-47 loss to Englewood Lemon Bay (4-8), Tuesday night in the Smoothie King Classic.

The senior guard needed 19 points to reach the milestone and scored 20 to finish the night with 1,001 points. She scored her 1,000 point on a driving layup and added a free throw with 3:25 left in the game.

The game was the final of eight contests and did not end until 11:45 p.m. The BCS girls (5-5) take the floor again today at 2:30 when it plays Arcadia DeSoto County in a consolation round matchup.

In other late game Tuesday night, the Manatee High girls defeated DeSoto 46-39 to improve to 4-8. The Hurricanes were led by Jasmine Luther (12 points) and Taylor Wilson (11). DeSoto (4-6) got 19 points from freshman Tishona Riley.

Cardinal Mooney vs Tamp Prep, 4 pm
Bradenton Christian vs Lennard, 7 pm
Braden River vs Bayshore, 5:30 pm
Manatee vs Lemon Bay, 8:30 pm

Consolation games:
Bayshore vs Pinellas Park, 10 am
Lakewood Ranch vs Community Christian, 1 pm
Cardinal Mooney vs Alonso, 11 am
Bradenton Christian vs DeSoto, 2:30 pm

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mistral Raymond has best day as pro with interception

Mistral Raymond is starting to show up big for the Minnesota Vikings despite a nagging shoulder injury that has plagued him in recent weeks.

The former Palmetto High/USF standout intercepted pass thrown by Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman last week that set up a Minnesota field that enabled the Vikings to get a good cushion in their 33-26 victory.

It was the first interception in 10 games, which set an NFL record for the beleaguered Vikings defense, which has been hit hard by injuries. Raymond finished with six tackles and two passes defended in the game.

The rookie safety now has 18 tackles though he only started seeing significant minutes in the last quarter of the season because he was set back by injuries. The Vikings entered the game with an NFL low six interceptions for the season

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Taggart makes home visit to try and persuade Poole to swtich allegiance

Could this be the night Brian Poole switches allegence?

The Southeast High standout, who has verbally committed to Florida, is getting a home visit tonight from former Manatee High quarterback and Western Kentucky head coach Willie Taggart.

Poole, rated the number one cornerback in the country in some publications, visited WKU last weekend. Before he left he said he was still a Florida commit but added you never know. He also said he planned on taking all five of his alloted visits. Earlier this season he took an official visit to Notre Dame and has three left.

Taggart is receiving rave reviews for how he turned around the WKU program this year taking the Hilltoppers to a 7-5 record that included a 7-1 Sun Belt Conference mark. He inherited a 2-22 program prior to last season that was the domat of FBS (I-A) football.

Taggart is considered a top notch recruiter who is particularly effective in his home state of Florida. With Poole, he has the added incentive that six former Manatee County players are on the roster at WKU.

USF offers three Manatee defensive linemen

The University of South Florida offered scholarships to three Manatee High defensive linemen soon after the Hurricanes Class 7A state semifinal victory over Palm Beach Dwyer Gardens last weekend.

Manatee assistant coaches said the offers went to juniors Blake Keller (6-2, 211) and Derrick Calloway (6-1, 302) and sophomore DeMarcas Christmas (6-3. 285). They said there is a chance the fourth member of the 'Canes front four, junior Marquis Dawsey (5-11, 219), could eventually secure an offer.

The players obviously have time to wait, which is good. USF head coach Skip Holtz is on the hot seat after a 5-7 season which saw him win only one Big East Conference game. Quite a few fans are upset that he is third highest paid football coach in the Big East Conference earning $1.7 million with little to show for it.

Ironically, if Holtz does get fired next season there are those at Manatee High who are hoping Willie Taggart might get the job. The former Manatee star quarterback did one of the best turn-around jobs in the country this year at Western Kentucky and is considered a fierce recruiter who gets excellent results.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Poole visits Western Kentucky this weekend; says you never know

Brian Poole, the area's most heavily recruited player, will take an official visit to Western Kentucky this weekend.

The Southeast High defensive back has verbally committed to Florida and Gators head coach Will Muschamp has been telling Poole he can make an impact next season.

This is Poole's second official visit. He visited Notre Dame earlier this season and says he might take all five official visits allowed by the NCAA.

Poole has been speaking with with WKU head coach Ray Woodie, a former Palmetto High head football coach and standout player there, who has close ties to Manatee County players.

"I am still verbally committed to Florida, but you never know. I hope to take all of my visits," Poole said.

Poole is rated among the top cornerbacks in the country and one publication had him the top cornerback. He also played running back, but will play defense for the Gators, who have struggled with their secondary this season.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bucs tackle woes at root of their problems

It's time for the Tampa Bay Bucs to get back to basics. And by that we mean learning how to tackle.

Going into last week’s Carolina game, Tampa led the league in attempted tackles missed with a soaring 15.4 percent rate according to Pro Football Focus.

They did show a slight improvement against Carolina with “only” 12 missed tackles after averaging 14 per outing over the previous three games.

Despite all the rave about his return, Tanard Jackson is the most culpable Buc coming up short on nearly half of his tackles by missing an astonishing 44 percent. Not too far behind is Quincy Black, who is missing on 25.5 percent of his attempts.

The three worst tackling teams in the league are the Bucs, Eagles and Carolina. The best is San Francisco.

The worst tackling secondary in the league is arguably the Eagles led by high priced trade acquisition Nnamdi Asomugha, who has allowed 27.3 percent of runners to escape his grasp. Six of the Bucs missed tackles against Carolina came trying to bring down Jonathan Stewart.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Palmetto's Raymond to get inaugural start against Tebow

Mistral Raymond is a person filled with patience and perseverance.

The Minnesota Vikings safety is expected to receive his reward this Sunday when he starts his first NFL game against Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.

The game, slated for a 1 p.m. kickoff, is supposed to be televised to a good part of the nation by Fox Sports.

Raymond, selected in the sixth round of this year’s NFL draft, gets the starting nod at safety after Husain Abdullah (concussion) and Tyrell Johnson (hamstring) were placed on injured reserve on Tuesday.

The 6-1, 190 pound Raymond, who played at Palmetto High and the University of South Florida, has been used sparingly this year seeing most of his action on special teams.

He was very impressive in pre-season camp, but went down early with a hamstring injury that kept on the sidelines for an extended period of time.

The game has an interesting story line. Though Tebow has come somewhat of a national craze with all the media hype, in a very quiet, unassuming way Raymond has gotten his share of stories written about him because of his unique background and struggles.

One of the latest was a story that appeared this week on Yahoo Sports. Click here to read.

Holtz building a troublesome football resume at USF

The second year of the Skip Holtz era ended with one of the worst seasons in the history of the program following the Bulls gut-wrenching 30-27 loss to West Virginia Thursday night.

Perhaps more disturbing is how the defense collapsed on the late stages of four heartbreaking losses.

Cincinnati, Miami and West Virginia scored on their final possessions to come from behind to beat the Bulls. Rutgers scored on its next to last possession of regulation to tie the game and then defeated USF in overtime.

The combined stats from those four drives are most troubling. USF opponents completed 20 of 26 passes for 244 yards without an interception on those drives.

The final game typified this season with USF unable to stop West Virginia on its game winning drive. The killer came when the Mountaineers had a fourth and 10 from the USF 42 yard line with 13 seconds left and quarterback Geno Smith completed a 26 yard pass to set up the game wining 28 yard field goal as time expired.

Miami’s Jacory Harris completed seven straight passes without an incompletion on the Hurricanes final drive. Rutgers had five straight completions and then after two misfires quarterback Chas Dodd threw a 34-yard TD strike with 1:08 left that eventually sent the game into overtime.

Cincinnati’s Zach Collaros completed four of his first five passes in the Bearcats winning drive, including a 21 yarder that gave his team a first down at the USF six that led to his two-yard TD run.

Holtz now owns an indistinguishable list of non-accomplishments and failures.
The loss ends the Bulls string of going to six straight bowl games, gives the program (5-7) its first losing season since 2004 and only third since the program first started playing in 1997.

The 1-6 Big East Conference record is the program’s worst since joining the league in 2004 surpassing the previous worst in ’08 when the Bulls had a 2-5 league record. Its worst record in Conference USA was 3-5 in ’04.

As pointed out earlier this week, this is all from a man who is the reported third highest paid coach in the Big East Conference at $1.7 million per season.