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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Robinson receiver Darrell Stevens has received plenty of attention from major college programs, but issues such as playing time and conference affiliation won't be the deciding factor when he selects a school.
"I'm looking for academics first," he said.
Gee, what a novel idea.
Stevens (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) and Knights quarterback Marcello Trigg form one of the area's top pass-catch duos. Last fall, Stevens, who said he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, caught 40 passes for 693 yards and 10 TDs, among the county's best totals in each category.
He's even better in the classroom, where he carries a 4.4 weighted GPA.
With grades and talent, it's no wonder Stevens has attracted interest from Boston College, Central Florida, Stanford, Tulane, Wake Forest and West Virginia. Wake Forest, which has offered a scholarship, and West Virginia are currently his favorites.
"You've got to give a kid credit who works hard in the class and Darrell is one of them," Robinson coach Mike DePue said. "He's a quality type of kid that will have numerous doors of opportunity open for him. He's smart and he plays tough. And when you add the grades and the character, that's a rare combination. He's a great kid to be around."
Stevens camped at UCF and USF this summer, but didn't have time to travel outside the state, he said. Aside from preparing for the upcoming season, he is thinking about taking the SAT and planning his official visits to prospective schools. "I've got to do real well this fall," he said.
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Middleton outside linebacker A.J. Jones (6-2, 182), a true national recruit, is as coveted as any area athlete. He lists his favorites as Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Ohio State and Southern California, all of which have extended offers.
"He's an athlete," Middleton coach Harry Hubbard said. "He plays the game with the intensity and the speed it should be played with, and he enjoys playing."
Rivals.com ranks Jones as the state's No. 16 prospect. Hubbard said Jones likely will wait until after this season to make his official visits and pick a school.
"From what I've heard him say, he's thinking about getting a state championship," Hubbard said. "Once he gets that out of the way, he'll go from there. That's pretty much what we advise them to do. We want them to take all of their visits."
- Times staff writer Keith Niebuhr can be reached at (813) 226-3350.