Many of the heroes of the high school gridiron from last fall are talking to college coaches and making visits to campuses this winter.
The first day prep recruits can sign with NCAA football programs is today (Feb. 6).
A few area players have committed to schools and will sign national letters of intent Wednesday. However, most players in the area who will end up playing at the next level will continue to mull their options for several more days or weeks, as most will be competing at the NAIA level or as non-scholarship/walk-on players for NCAA programs.
For more than 20 years this reporter has interviewed head coaches from area conferences to inquire where their recruits are considering prior to the NCAA's signing day. This year more schools than ever before said they have no football seniors planning to play at the next level. Those teams include Springfield Kickapoo and West Plains of the Ozark Conference; Pacific of the Four Rivers Conference; Salem, Ava, Thayer and Willow Springs from the South-Central Association, and independent school Cuba.
Here is a list of prep football recruits from area teams; players listed all-state are from either the Missouri Sportswriters/Sportscasters Association or the Missouri Football Coaches Association squads (last season's record in parenthesis):
Rolla (2-9): Alex McCormack (6-4, 205) was an all-district two-way player at receiver and defensive back, catching 31 passes for 587 yards and seven TDs and making 80 tackles with three interceptions. McCormack wants to compete in both football and track in college and has visited Lincoln and Missouri Valley.
Offensive lineman Anthony Mehling (5-11, 215) is looking at Missouri Valley. Defensive end Darien Abston (6-1, 215) is considering several small schools. Running back Michael Pickrell, who rushed for 1,030 yards in '12, could no doubt find a football home, but he plans on playing baseball in college instead.
Waynesville (3-7): Two-time all-state defensive back Dylan Newcomb (6-1, 200) is a top-notch student and has been talking with all the military academys as well as MIT, Harvard, Yale, Washington University and Missouri S&T. This past season Newcomb made 40 tackles and four interceptions despite missing extended action due to injury.
Also for the Tigers LB Tim Moore (6-0, 190) is leaning towards Avila University while DL Josh Rocker (6-3, 230) is considering Missouri Valley and RB Warren Womack (6-0, 190) Missouri Valley and Lincoln.
Lebanon (9-2): The Yellowjackets have two players who have verbally committed and are set to sign with NCAA programs on Wednesday. They are all-state offensive lineman Tyler Couch (6-3, 270) at Division I Southeast Missouri State and receiver Aren Martin (6-1, 190), who transferred from Waynesville during the 2012 season, is to sign to compete in football and track at Pittsburg State, the 2011 NCAA Division II national football champion. Missouri S&T has signed Jeff Plake, a wide receiver who caught 17 far 260 yards and five touchdowns. He will also run track there.
Page 2 of 4 - All-state running back Brock West (5-7, 175), who rushed for 1,930 yards and 31 touchdowns last season, has committed to Evangel College of the NAIA, as has quarterback Hayden Brackett (6-2, 206). Inside linebacker Shawn Dalangin (5-11, 210) is looking at Avila University while kicker Andre Smith is also considering Evangel.
Camdenton (8-4): The Lakers have six players looking to play at the next level. Career rushing later and all-state RB Murphy Ward (5-7, 190) is interested trying to make the roster as a walk-on at Division I programs Mizzou or Arkansas. Ward rushed for 1,526 yards and 18 TDs in 2012. All-state TE-LB Chase Nugent (6-2, 200), who caught 25 passes for 365 yards on offense and led the team with 68 tackles on defense, is looking at Evangel.
Also for Camdenton DL Alec Everett (6-2, 200) is considering Central Methodist; OL Kyle Rizer (6-0, 220) Quincy; LB Jake Voorhees (5-9, 210) Westminster, and DL Tyler Danuser (5-11, 240) Central Methodist and Missouri Valley.
Joplin (5-5): The Eagles' standout tight end Adam St. Peter (6-4, 225) is slated to sign with Division I program Missouri State while DE Jarad Bader (6-2, 210) has committed to Mid-America Nazarene and QB Gabe Sachetta (6-0, 175), who passed for 1,185 yards last year, has offers from Missouri Southern, Quincy and Missouri Valley. RB Chris Payton-Barba, a 1,000-yard rusher the past three seasons, does not plan to play collegiate football.
Springfield Hillcrest (10-2): Jonah Hill, an all-sate QB for the Hornets in 2012, last summer made a verbal commitment to Division I Arkansas State as a tight end. Hillcrest all-state safety Sheldon Moeller plans to walk-on at Missouri State and OT Levi Miles is considering Missouri Valley.
Springfield Parkview (8-3): The Vikings' all-state RB Cole Jenkins (5-11, 205), who rushed for more than 1,300 yards in '12, has several offers from Division II schools and is also considering Arkansas. Also, FS Rudy Beltran (5-10, 165) has talked with Evangel and Avila.
Springfield Glendale (2-8): The Falcons' OL David Randall (6-1, 310) has committed to William Jewell. QB Will Rogers (6-1, 195) has talked with several schools, including Missouri S&T and William Jewell. Rogers' father, Roddy Rogers, was a defensive back for the S&T (then Missouri-Rolla) undefeated team of 1980. Four other Glendale players would like to play somewhere but have no real interest yet.
Springfield Kickapoo (6-5): The Chiefs have a couple of players dabbling with the thought of college football but nothing firm at this time.
West Plains (0-10): The Zizzers have no seniors interested in playing in college.
Four Rivers Conference
St. James (3-7): Two Tiger linemen have collegiate football interest. OL Josh Karnes (6-1, 280) has considered Missouri Valley, Central Methodist and Missouri S&T. And DL Jake Gleason (6-2, 195) is looking at several small schools.
Owensville (0-10): Dutchman OL Cody Hendrix (6-2, 250) is looking at Missouri S&T and Missouri Valley while QB Terrick Ellis (5-11, 150) is looking at Missouri Valley and Westminster, among others.
Page 3 of 4 - Sullivan (12-1): After the Eagles' huge season, which included the conference title, three players look to move on to the next level. All-state receiver Adam Wieland (6-1, 175) and QB Adam Tiefenbrunn (6-0, 185) are both considering Westminster and Iowa Wesleyan while all-state DL Seth Mesey (6-1, 215) is looking at Central Missouri State, Missouri Valley and Central Methodist.
St. Clair (10-2): The Bulldogs have a slew of players looking to play at the next level after a big 2012.
All-state OSLB Adam Brott (6-2, 195) is looking at several Division I and Division II programs, including Southeast Missouri State, Western Illinois, South Dakota, Northwest Missouri State and Central Missouri State. All-state DB Kyle Juergens (6-0, 185), who passed for 1,300 yards and rushed for 1,300 yards, is looking at Northwest Missouri State, Central Missouri State and Winona State. All-state defensive back Richard Grivetti (5-11, 170) plans on competing in both football and track and is looking at Central Methodist, Missouri Valley and, as a walk-on, Southwest Missouri State.
Other St. Clair players looking for a football program: OL-DL Jake Yerkey (6-3, 190) was to play football and run track and is looking at Central Methodist, Missouri Valley, Avila as well as walking on at Southeast Missouri. WR-DB Evan Powell (6-3, 170) is looking at Quincy, Missouri Valley, Central Methodist and Coe College. OL-DL Josh Haynes (5-11, 250), is looking at Avila, Missouri Valley, Cole College and Greenville College. TE-DE Blake Dierking (6-1, 190) is considering Missouri Valley and Iowa Wesleyan. LB Evan Murphy (5-11, 175) is considering teams including Central Methodist, Greenville, Westminster and Avila.
Hermann (4-6): The Bearcats' RB-LB Armando Matech (5-8, 185), who rushed for 921 yards in eight games, is looking at Westminster.
Union (5-5): The Wildcats have a pair of seniors looking to continue their football careers. DE Blake Wright (5-11, 180) is looking at Westminster and Truman State while LB Cody Pace (5-11, 180) is considering several small schools.
Pacific (2-8): The Indians had only four seniors on the roster last year. One of them, OL-DL Ryan Byron, had a chance to play college ball but has decided to join the Air Force.
Salem (6-4): Salem QB Brady Floyd (6-2, 158) has a chance to play football; having rushed for 933 yards and 18 TDs in the Tigers' option game. However, Brady is likely to follow in his dad's footsteps by playing college baseball instead. Among several baseball programs he's considering are Drury and Missouri Southern. His father, Tony Floyd, starred at Licking High School, Three Rivers Community College and Missouri State (then Southwest Missouri State) as a pitcher before being drafted by and signing with the Oakland Athletics.
Houston (2-8): The Tigers have two players who are each looking at several small schools – FB Kaden Miller (5-9, 210) and RB Drake Bell (5-11, 190). Miller rushed for 600 yards before suffering an ankle injury in the second half of the season. Bell also rushed for around 600 yards and is to have knee surgery soon.
Page 4 of 4 - Mtn. Grove (11-1): The Panthers have a pair of all-staters looking to play in college. LB Brett Johnson is looking at Central Methodist. TB Tyler Collins, who rushed for 1,500 yards in 2012, is looking at Central Methodist and has some other recruiting trips scheduled.
Mtn. View Liberty (10-3): Most of the talent on the Eagles' 2012 squad were underclassmen and will be back next fall. However, OL-DL Josiah DePriest (6-4, 290) is one senior who has college options.
Cabool (0-10): All-state TE Gavin Green (6-4, 225), who had 30 receptions for 350 yards last season, has talked with Southwest Baptist, Evangel and Missouri Western.
Ava (4-6): None.
Thayer (6-5): None.
Willow Springs (5-6): None.