Surprises in Bay area on National Signing Day - WFLA News Channel 8

Surprises in Bay area on National Signing Day

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Javon Harrison was expected to sign with Virginia Tech. Instead he signed with FSU. Javon Harrison was expected to sign with Virginia Tech. Instead he signed with FSU.
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - Call it the year of the “flip flop”. 

On National Signing Day,  one of the biggest days each year in high school/collegiate athletics, the Tampa Bay area provided plenty of drama for a sports hungry nation to absorb.

By mid-afternoon, at least six bay area high school football stars switched their verbal college commitments to sign letters of intent with other schools.

At Kathleen High School, in Lakeland, Red Devils wide receiver, Ja’von Harrison, walked into his signing ceremony as a Virginia Tech recruit, and signed to play football at Florida State.  The defending national champions were always in the picture but only recently began a push to land Harrison, a four-star player according to the recruiting service, Rivals.com.

Another surprising “flip” took place earlier in the day at Armwood High School in Seffner.  Defensive back, Kyle Gibson, committed to Vanderbilt, elected to sign with Central Florida.  Gibson, was a prized recruit of former Commodores head coach, James Franklin.  When Franklin departed Vanderbilt for Penn State, Gibson’s desire to play at the SEC school dwindled.

A second bay area player affected by Franklin’s job change was Gaither High defensive back Amani Oruwariye.  Unlike Gibson, Oruwariye will follow Franklin to Penn State, signing with the Nittany Lions.

It is not uncommon to see a high school football player change his mind when it comes to making his college decision official.  In the days of recruiting websites and 24-hour coverage for fan bases, the spotlight is bright the moment an athlete even expresses interest in a college program.

As colleges recruit athletes during their early high school years, a verbal commitment becomes breaking news, taken as concrete by many.  Even before the athlete sets foot on campus for an official visit.

Therefore, a last minute change of heart is viewed as altering history.    In some cases, the direction of a program really is affected by the “flip”.

At South Florida, head coach, Willie Taggart, endured a de-commitment by Jefferson High quarterback, Deoindre Porter, who signed to play for Florida.

Meanwhile, in Brooksville, Nature Coast defensive end, Rohan Blackwood, rewarded Taggart by switching from his Wisconsin commitment to sign with USF.

And, sometimes, a “flip” sends waves from coast to coast.

St. Petersburg Catholic four-star offensive lineman, Reilly Gibbons, was a longtime verbal commit to Miami.  But a recent campus visit to Pac-12  champion Stanford changed everything.  Gibbons signed his letter of intent as well, the Cardinal over the Hurricanes.

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