March 3, 2008

Two stars on the rise at Apopka

'Sleeper' is a relative term. In March of 2008, the majority of D-I college prospects in the 2009 class have yet to receive their first official offer. Coaching staffs are still targeting their priorities and gathering information. But occasionally there is a player that even in the early stages seems to be underappreciated.

This spring, one of those players may end up being Jeremy Gallon out of Apopka, Fla.

At 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, Gallon led his team to the class 6A semifinals in the state of Florida where the Blue Darters lost a close contest to previously unbeaten Orlando (Fla.) Boone. As a quarterback in Apopka's single wing offense, Gallon rushed for close to 1,700 yards and passed for nearly 1,100 yards. His performance earned him first team all-state honors for Florida's biggest classification as an athlete.

However, despite all of those credentials, Gallon has yet to garner his first official offer. Apopka's head coach Rick Darlington can't understand why.

"He really plays every position," Darlington said. "He plays quarterback for us but we run the single wing offense so our QB is really like a tailback. In 14 games though, he completed 65% of his passes. He was 6A player of the year in our area and he was runner-up in the state. He runs a 4.4 and he power cleans 300 pounds."

There have been a few schools that have come by to see about the versatile back but none of the bigger programs have made the trek to the high school.

"Any college that's seen him has been flabbergasted by him," Darlington said. "But nobody has seen him. A lot of the bigger schools don't come by here, I guess because we're out here in the middle of the state."

Despite the limited recruitment activity, Darlington is sure that Gallon has high end potential and he should know. Darlington has coached players such as former Miami standout and current New England Patriot Brandon Meriweather.

"When he runs, he doesn't look like he's running very fast but nobody can catch him," Darlington said of Gallon. "He's very wiggly. He's a lot like Percy Harvin. He's got amazing hands. You can throw the football at him from anywhere and he catches with his fingers. He just snatches it out of the air like a baseball."

On the next level, Gallon could project at multiple positions as many people like him as a cornerback.

Rivals.com recruiting expert Barry Every got a chance to evaluate Gallon and loved what he saw.

"He's a cross between Noel Devine and Chris Rainey," said Every. "He's super quick, his change of direction is probably in the top 1/10th of the top 1 percentile. He's go good speed. He's magic with the ball in his hands. He could make a great punt returner. He could be receiver, cornerback and possibly a running back."

Gallon isn't the only big-time prospect that has flown low on the radar at Apopka. Larvez Mars or 'Pooh-Bear' as he is more commonly known is also a player that Darlington sees as future college star.

"He had 158 tackles as a junior," Darlington said. "He runs good sideline to sideline, he's got a good nose for the ball. He's 5-11, 210 pounds and sees the big picture well. He plays middle linebacker for us but he can play will for a lot of colleges.

"He's very versatile. He catches the ball very well. He could play running back and we have played him there some."

Barry Every also weighed in on Mars.

"He loves to hit and he goes all full speed," Every said. "He's a great blitzer just like Buster Davis was. If colleges are knocking him strictly on height, they're making a big mistake."

In the 2008 class at Apopka, three players signed to play division I football. Cameris Stewart will play wide receiver at New Mexico, Danny White is an OLB heading to UAB and Derrick Clark will play defensive back at FIU. Darlington though is realistic about his players' potential.

"I think those two can play high level D-I football," he said. "We have three players that can play to low to mid-level D-I but these guys are on a higher level than those guys. We just fly under the radar. We're a very small team. We run good, we hit good, but we don't have a lot of big players."

As word gets out about Gallon and Mars, Apopka may not have big players, but it may soon have big prospects.




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