Deiros, Tollett, and Vaughn all shared their reaction and thoughts following the NCAA’s decision to cancel all spring championships.
Naples Daily News
Josh Repetti likes to stick to a schedule. The past four years his time management skills helped Repetti juggle classes at Fort Myer High School and prepare for college while also playing football.
This week’s schedule says Repetti should be at West Virginia Wesleyan College meeting with the Bobcats football team, hoping to secure a scholarship offer on his official visit to the Division II school.
Instead, Repetti is at home taking online classes, working out on his own and trying to stave off boredom.
In the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA canceled all spring sports, including spring football practices and scrimmages. With that, the NCAA put a halt on in-person recruiting in all sports.
The “dead period”, which lasts until at least April 15, hasn’t had an adverse effect on Southwest Florida’s football prospects just yet. College coaches don’t fully ramp up their face-to-face recruiting until high schools begin spring practices, which are scheduled to start April 26.
However, players have had to cancel their campus visits as colleges across the country have stopped student activities.
Missing visits might not have a huge effect for underclassmen who have a few years left to get recruited. But for seniors like Repetti, who have just a few months to find a team, the sports shutdown is big deal.
“These visits possibly determine your whole future, everything that’s ahead of you,” Repetti said. “I’m kind of upset, but there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t focus on it.”
Repetti, a two-way lineman, was scheduled to take his visit to West Virginia Wesleyan with Fort Myers teammate Bradley Merilus, a linebacker. Both Green Wave players have scholarship offers from other colleges, so they won’t be completely left out if they don’t get to go on any more visits.
Without seeing the campus, Repetti said he’ll make his decision based on which school can offer the best scholarship and financial aid package.
Lehigh coach James Chaney planned to take a group of five underclassmen to visit Vanderbilt and Louisville last week during spring break. The trip was canceled when those schools stopped classes and sports.
Although the NCAA has suspended in-person recruiting, college coaches still are allowed to contact recruits.
Naples High rising junior safety Devin Moore is one of the area’s most sought-after players with 11 Division I offers. He said he’s been talking with several coaches through texts, calls and FaceTime chats.
“They’ve been reaching out, checking in on me, motivating me,” Moore said. “Just creating positive vides to get through a hard time and make sure I’m still working.”
Moore even picked up another offer during the dead period. Pittsburgh gave the Golden Eagles standout a scholarship offer last week.
The five Lehigh players who canceled their visits already have offers from Louisville, so Chaney is confident the stoppage won’t hurt them too much. But the coach worries what could happen to players without offers if spring football is canceled.
All public schools in Florida are closed until April 15. The Florida High School Athletic Association has suspended sports at least that long but has not canceled the remaining spring sports or announced any changes to spring football.
However, some coaches doubt players will be putting on shoulder pads anytime soon.
“In my mind, I’m resigned to the fact that the earliest we’re going to get to do (any football activity) is this summer,” Fort Myers coach Sam Sirianni Jr. said. “I can’t see a timeline, personally, where we play (this spring).”
The month of May is when many college coaches visit high schools in Florida. Colleges are done with their spring programs and they want to do as much recruiting as possible before they start preparing for the upcoming fall season.
Sirianni said 78 college coaches came to Fort Myers High spring practice last season.
At Lely, second-year coach J.J. Everage is expecting as many as 30 out to see his top recruits, rising senior quarterback/athlete J.J. Dervil and rising senior receiver/defensive back Sergio Morancy.
“They want to be out here to see them in person, see how they compete,” Lely coach J.J. Everage said.
Dervil and Morancy had an unofficial visit to South Florida planned. This spring they also were hoping to get to Virginia, which has offered Dervil.
“This has put a stop to all that,” Everage said.
Both Trojans have six scholarship offers, including two each from Power Five conferences, so they’re already on college coaches’ radars. But many times when a coach comes to practice to recruit a specific kid, he sees another player he likes and that player starts generating interest.
Without spring football, those players could get overlooked. Players like Aidan Gousby.
A 6-foot-2, 185-pound receiver, Gousby didn’t put up huge stats as a sophomore at Lehigh this past season. Chaney, though, thinks the receiver has Division I talent. Gousby has height and speed – he was running a sub-22 second 200-meter dash during track season before sports were suspended.
“Some of these rising juniors, maybe they didn’t have enough film (highlights) to offer them after their sophomore seasons,” Chaney said. “Going into spring, college coaches could come to practice and see the kid is explosive enough to know he’ll have a great junior and senior season. Those are the type of kids that may be hurt by this.
“It’s not a death sentence, but it’s going to be harder for them.”
Florida A&M head coach Willie Simmons and his staff are revising their strategies. To counter the inability of face-to-face meetings, the coaches are putting a deeper analysis of film study.
“With everything that’s going on, it forces us to think outside the box and be creative and innovative to maximize the time,” Simmons said.
“It hurts us in the aspect that prospective student-athletes aren’t allowed to visit our campus. During spring practice, oftentimes, prospective student-athletes want to come up and do unofficial visits. It prevents us from doing that. This puts more of an emphasis on film evaluation because you can’t have those in-person contacts.”
— USA Today Florida sports reporter Rory Sharrock contributed to this story.