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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.
CLEARWATER - Although his decision was made in May, Countryside quarterback L.D. Crow could not disguise his excitement Wednesday.
It was the first day 2007 football recruits could turn their oral commitments into written ones, and Crow officially committed to Stanford.
"I'm thrilled because the whole process is now over," Crow said.
Crow gave Stanford's coaching staff a brief scare when he called later than expected to say his signed national letter of intent was on its way.
"I knew the coaches were a few hours behind on the West Coast, and I didn't want to wake anyone up," Crow said. "But it's okay. (Stanford) got everything around 8 a.m."
Crow and teammate A.J. Matthews, a linebacker who committed to Iowa State, had a signing party in the school's media center.
"I don't have to wait around anymore," Matthews said. "I can go out and play."
STAYING HOME: Boca Ciega senior running back Josh Bellamy fought off two months of flirtation from Florida coaches and signed with USF.
Bellamy, the Times' No. 5 bay area recruit, wore a green and gold polo shirt and Bulls hat as he shared the moment with grandmother Barbara Washington; his mother, Alicia Butler; and his stepfather, Tim Daniels.
"I like (Bellamy) a lot," said CSTV recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. "He can run, play offense and defense. He's a great athlete."
MILES AND MILES: When Brenda Williams got her 2004 Ford Expedition, it had 23,000 miles on it. But that was before her son, St. Petersburg defensive tackle Lawon Scott, started getting recruited. On consecutive weekends, Williams and Scott drove from St. Petersburg to North Carolina, to South Carolina and to Oxford, Miss. Now, the SUV has 27,000 miles on it. "I'd never driven that far once" before the recruiting trips in January, Williams said. After visits to the Citadel, Wake Forest and Ole Miss resulted in scholarships, she'd gladly do it again.
TOP CLASS: Jefferson led the bay area with eight signees and another who accepted an academic scholarship with the intent to play.
Leading the Dragons was quarterback Stephen Garcia, who is enrolled in spring classes at South Carolina.
Offensive lineman Mike Williams, defensive back Kevin Brown, defensive lineman DeMarcus Cleveland and tight end Byron McLeod signed with Middle Tennessee State.
GEOGRAPHY PRIZE: Plant wins the award for placing players in the widest geographic range.
At the Panthers' news conference coach Bob Weiner announced players would be going to Miami (quarterback Robert Marve), Air Force in Colorado Springs (offensive lineman Alex Townsend), Furman in Greenville, S.C. (defensive back Luke Rorech) and Hawaii (linebacker Brent Thomas).
Marve, Townsend and Rorech signed national letters of intent. Thomas is going to Hawaii as a preferred walk-on after visiting the school in January.
IF THE PITT HAT FITS ... : Two hats sat on a table in front of Middleton defensive back Sherod Murdock, one with "Pitt" printed on it, the other "Alabama."
"But that was just for a little fun," said Murdock, wearing his Pittsburgh hat. "You know, after everything that happened."
Murdock orally committedto Alabama only to change his mind after Mike Shula was fired in December and later replaced by Nick Saban.
"I didn't get that much attention" from Saban, Murdock said. "After I visited Pitt, I knew that was my new home..
NICE HAUL: Signing day has become an annual ritual at boys soccer powerhouse Countryside, which had three players commit: Jeff Attinella (South Florida), Josh Martinez (Florida International) and Mike Favero (North Carolina Greensboro). Martinez, who tore his meniscus three months ago, is waiting to pass a physical before his signing becomes official.
Times staff writers Joe Smith, Dave Murphy, Scott Purks and Joey Knight contributed to this report.