By GREG AUMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 4, 2001
Wednesday is national signing day, when the country's top high school football players make it official where they will be continuing their promising careers.
Bill Vonada is looking out for the athletes who aren't good enough to celebrate anything Wednesday but have enough talent and determination to play at the college level.
The Springstead head coach has organized a Small College Recruiting Fair and Combine to be held at Springstead on Feb. 16-17, with invitations sent out to high schools and colleges to bring them together.
"It's a bunch of work," Vonada said Friday as he sorted through faxes and phone messages with RSVPs from colleges ranging geographically from Illinois to Georgia to South Dakota. "But the biggest thing is that we need one of these in this area."
Vonada attended a similar camp in Tallahassee last spring and decided Springstead should have one. The recruiting fair will take place in the school's media center.
Coaches need to bring their own TV and VCR for the official-campus-tour video, but Springstead is supplying the rest, including some of the area's top prep stars.
Vonada said he has commitments from at least 10 colleges, and about 25 high schools have told him they will send players to the combine workout that follows Saturday.
Players can bring their own scouting tapes for colleges to look at, then can show coaches in person what they might be able to offer to an NCAA Div. III, NAIA or junior college program.
"It should be a real big event," said Vonada, who continues to get replies from schools and is encouraged by the response.
Vonada has a few players of his own who are in position to play in college.
Lineman Justin Matejka has been in contact with Jacksonville University, and fullback Justen Durr -- the Eagles' leading rusher this season with 734 yards and seven touchdowns -- is looking at programs such as Valdosta State.
The county has two oral commitments in Central's Jerry Daniels and Lance Holland, who will make their promise to Bethune-Cookman official with a signing ceremony at Central on Wednesday.
Hernando's Dee Brown is making his final campus visits this weekend and faces a tough decision from a long list of schools that includes Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Tennessee, Miami, South Florida and Mississippi.