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Prep Notebook

After courtship, colleges snap up best of Jefferson football

By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 22, 2002

The recruiting rush for the college services of two standout Jefferson players is over. Rashaun Grant and Donnie Woods, who both had their regular seasons cut short by injuries, have orally committed to major college football programs. Grant, a running back, has committed to Georgia Tech, while offensive lineman Woods will play at Maryland.

Grant, rated as the top back in the nation by recruiting Web site Rivals.com, saw his senior campaign end with a broken ankle during the eighth week of the season. Still, Grant managed to run for 1,011 yards and 13 touchdowns. At 6 feet and 190 pounds, Grant also was being recruited by Florida and Miami.

Woods, meanwhile, is among the country's top linemen. A 6-4, 290-pound tackle, Woods suffered torn knee ligaments during the seventh week of the season. Ranked as the sixth-best offensive lineman in the United States by Rivals.com, Woods had offers from USF, North Carolina, Florida State and Texas Tech.

Jefferson finished the season 13-2, losing 19-10 in the Class 4A state championship game to Melbourne Palm Bay.

MORE FOOTBALL: Fresh off his team's appearance in the Class 5A state championship game, Wharton coach Richard Wood has been named the Florida High School Football Coach of the Year by the Florida Dairy Farmer's Association.

Also named the Class 5A Coach of the Year, Wood beat out coaches from five other classifications for the overall honor. Wood earned 149 points on the ballots, 18 better than runner up Joey Wiles of Class 3A St. Augustine High.

A year after going 4-6, the Wildcats posted a 13-2 record and went to the state championship game in only the program's seventh year of existence. The Wildcats fell 22-10 to Pompano Beach Ely in the state final.

WRESTLING: Despite having no individual champions and only one finalist, Sickles won the Kiwanis Invitational in Brooksville Dec. 14-15. Even more impressive, the Gryphons were without defending state champ Jegan Gabbidon and state runner-up Stan Liberatore. Senior Mike Aquino finished second at 160 pounds to help Sickles finish with 156 points. Hernando was second at 135, and Chamberlain was third at 132.50. The Chiefs' Brian Banjany (103 pounds) was the only Hillsborough County individual to capture a weight class.

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