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National Signing Day will be a big deal this time around

The county's top stars are starting to catch recruiters' eyes.

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002

The county's top stars are starting to catch recruiters' eyes.

As unofficial holidays go, National Signing Day wasn't celebrated too heartily last February in Pasco County.

That Tuesday came and went without a single player signing with a Division I school. Several later signed with small schools or announced they'd be walking on at bigger programs, but as far as recruiting goes, it was a down year.

This year the big decision could be which signing-day ceremony to attend. A handful of seniors are coveted as Division I recruits, and one orally committed before the season even started.

Ridgewood defensive end Adamm Oliver became the county's first commitment in July when he announced he was accepting a scholarship to Georgia Tech.

Three players were invited to the prestigious Nike camp in Miami this spring: Wesley Chapel running back Tyrone Tomlin, Zephyrhills quarterback James Adamo and Land O'Lakes junior quarterback Drew Weatherford. Tomlin missed the camp because he was recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right knee, but Adamo and Weatherford attended and have their names on several recruiting watch lists.

Adamo, a left-handed quarterback coveted for his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame and quick release, is one of 94 quarterbacks nationally with a two-star rating or better at recruiting site He's been contacted by Louisville, South Florida, Miami and Alabama.

Tomlin, who set a county rushing record last year and led the state in scoring, could quickly join Adamo on the recruiting scene if he can show he has recovered. Five seniors from last year's Wesley Chapel squad joined college programs, the biggest being kicker Gilbert Montelongo, who is attempting to walk on at USF.

The most sought-after of all might be Weatherford, tagged as one of the state's top quarterbacks in next year's class. Another ranking of state juniors included Pasco running back Johnny Peyton, whose average of 23.3 yards per catch last season was the highest among county players with at least 10 receptions.

One of Weatherford's top targets this fall, senior Logan Payne, has "raised a lot of eyebrows" from college recruiters, according to Gators coach John Benedetto. Payne, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound split end, led the county last year with 29 receptions and matched the county lead with five touchdown catches.

The Gators' center, 6-foot-4, 300-pound senior Bobby O'Dell, has drawn interest from schools such as Auburn and could emerge as a top-level recruit.

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