Often times a Florida high school football coach spends as much time coaching as he does with recruiting. It’s certainly a nice problem to have sometimes however. The coach will undoubtedly have some talent to use on the field in their conquest for a state title. Also remember it gives them a chance to talk and learn from the best college coaches around. For some the chance to meet top college coaches is a dream come true.
Tampa Plant coach Robert Weiner has had that luxury for a few seasons now. This year he has the luxury of a few including one of the nation’s best players. James Wilder II was already a wanted man when he showed up his sophomore year. Now near the start of his senior season he has over 50 offers and can go anywhere he wants. There is lots of speculation about his best suited college position. He has publicly declared his demands of playing running back even though most view him as one of the country’s best linebackers. He’s such an unreal prospect that schools will line up and let him play either position to get him on board.
In addition to James Wilder II, coach is blessed with a strong signal caller with enough “it” factor to know how to win. So much in fact that he is unbeaten as a starter at Tampa Plant senior with two state titles. He plays against the best week in and week out and knows how to get the job done. Phillip Ely has had a quiet recruitment until spring hit, then it was gloves off. The knock on him has always been his size, but now he has added to his frame and appears headed for bigger offers even yet.
“Phillip is up to 25 offers now,” coach Weiner said. “He got Cincinnati today, Rutgers the other day, Wake Forest and LSU recently. Vanderbilt also. He’s getting heavy interest from Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida. Florida is looking to take a second quarterback in addition to Driskell. We are on a trip right now visiting Clemson, Wake Forest, and Tennessee. We were just at Tennessee today he threw well, about as well as he could throw in fact. If they didn’t like what they saw today then I don’t know. But they did say they were impressed. We are going to a camp at Florida on the 18th for him to throw. He’s also going up to FSU to throw at a camp this month. He’s got so many places to look at now, he takes it so stress free and just goes with the flow.”
Originally a lot of schools stayed away from Phillip over concerns of his size. However know it appears that things have changed.
“Everybody liked his film, he’s a very talented player, he’s a winner. He’s gone 19-0 with two state titles. He was around 171 pounds at the end of last year, now he’s up to 190 pounds and can bench press nearly 300 pounds. He’s working hard and he’s one of the big winners in spring evaluations. He was also recently invited to play in the Army All American bowl and he’s excited to do that. He also was the regional MVP at the Elite-11 a few weeks ago in Tuscaloosa. He got the opportunity to check out the campus afterwards and talk with coach Saban one on one. I know this summer he is trying to get to Vanderbilt, LSU, ASU, and Tennessee again.”
Tampa Plant will be one of the eight teams invited to the Nike 7V7 tournament in Portland, Oregon in early July. The plan is for some of the team to stay behind and take a trip to Oregon for an unofficial following the tournament.
“Oregon called about Phillip today in fact. They wanted to know if he would come up for a camp. He’s got limited time and it’s tough to do with all of the other offers that are closer. We will probably stay after the tournament and head down to Oregon. I know Eric (Dungy) has been talking to them about it, so we’ll see what happens.”
While Phillip runs the offense his job is made a lot easier with the help of all world running back James Wilder II. He has been the subject of early and heavy recruiting buzz. His coach explained what is going on with his star player, who was recently ranked 8th overall on the ESPNU 150.
“James is set on running back.He is looking for the chance to be a power back somewhere. Everyone thinks Florida offered as a linebacker and won’t recruit him as a running back. That’s not true, when he was a sophomore that’s what they offered him as, but coach Urban Meyer told me he admired his desire to play a certain position. He’s not really down to any schools. He would love to play with Phillip if possible, and we’ll see what happens there. He’s been to Florida, FSU, and Alabama before but that doesn’t mean anything. He’s interested in Southern California and has spoken to Eric about Oregon. He does want to decide before his senior season though so it’s coming up quick.
Another top recruit is in the mix at Tampa Plant. Huge offensive lineman Tony Posada has seen his momentum trending up. He’s currently holding over 20 offers, including his first from Michigan.
“Tony is up to 20-25 offers right now. He’s going to work out with Phillip at Florida on the 18th. He’s got great interest in them if they offer. When Phillip goes to FSU to throw, Tony will go there too. Been hearing from them lately about Tony, they seem pretty interested.”
Coach Weiner is on track to get all this done and then get back to work on a quest for a third straight title in Florida. These three players will be vital to the team’s success and will also be ready to go this fall, likely with college decision in hand.