Coney gets coaches buzzing

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Orlando stop on the Steve Clarkson Dreammaker Tour might have been the best of the seven events so far this year. Loaded with talented quarterbacks, it was 2012 prospect Bennie Coney (Tampa, Fla./Plant City) who was impossible to ignore Saturday in the Citrus Bowl.

"It's really something listening to all the coaches say that your quarterback [Coney] is the best quarterback here," said Plant City coach Jason Strunk, who was one of the coaches helping out at the camp. "There's a lot of talent here, I mean a lot of talent, and the fact that Bennie is considered one of the best, if not the best, is a great feeling. I've watched Bennie develop from a skinny incoming freshman to an outstanding quarterback and leader.

"Bennie is a quarterback. He doesn't want to play any other sports. All he wants to do is throw the football and lift weights."

Coney threw for 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2009, and schools are starting to take notice.

"Florida State and Auburn are the two schools I grew up watching and rooting for," Coney said. "Purdue and Texas Tech have already verbally offered me a scholarship. I went to Auburn's camp last year, and they said they'll be watching out for me. I'm completely open. Miami, Florida, Texas, Big Ten, you name it. I'm pretty much hearing from everyone right now."

College recruiters stopping by Plant City also might see plenty of other Division I talent. Strunk said that besides Jordan Prestwood, who just pledged to Notre Dame, he has several other prospects, including what he called 15 legit prospects in the 2012 class.

More and more schools interested in Moore
Another 2012 signal-caller who stood out was Evan Moore (Lake Worth, Fla./Lake Worth). The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder showed a ton of poise, composure and presence. Moore has an extremely strong arm, made every throw on the football field and has the confidence you look for in a leader.

"There was a lot of competition out here today," Moore said. "There was a lot of great coaching. This was a great camp, and I just tried to do my best today."

Moore took over at quarterback at Lake Worth as a freshman after highly touted signal-caller Star Jackson went to the University of Alabama. Like his predecessor, Moore will have his pick of schools.

"I like the Florida schools, and it's running in cycles for me now," Moore said. "I don't know why, but it was Miami, then I liked the Florida Gators and then it was Florida State. I'm hearing from all three of these schools as well as Wake Forest, Nebraska, Purdue and a lot of others.

"I'd like to stay in Florida to play my college ball because my family is here, but I'm going to take a good, hard look at all the schools that offer me."

Third camp is a charm
A quarterback who will get plenty of looks next year is Troy Bitterle (Kalamazoo, Mich./Portage Northern). Bitterle is a veteran of the Dreammaker camps, having already attended events in California and Dallas.

Bitterle has come a long way, according to camp director Chris Dubek, who says he is now a legit D-I quarterback prospect.

"It was definitely a great day and experience," Bitterle said. "Coming from Michigan, you always want to measure yourself against the top talent in the country, and I've been to Dallas and now Orlando. It doesn't get any better than that.

"This is the best group of quarterbacks I've seen. They all have strong arms. Kevin Sousa is here and he has an absolute cannon. [Teddy] Bridgewater throws the ball with a tight spin. Bennie Coney is a huge kid with a great arm. Everyone here is a legit prospect."

Bitterle, who threw for 1,700 yards and had a combined 20 passing and rushing touchdowns last season, says his next stops are the Ohio State Elite 11 camp, the Chicago Under Armour camp and maybe another Dreammaker camp in Chicago, which will be held at Soldier Field.

Big-time players at small schools
Make sure you keep an eye on Jared Armstrong (Gainesville, Fla./Oak Hall). Armstrong is the son of former Florida Gators defensive lineman and 15-year NFL veteran Trace Armstrong.

Armstrong preps at a private school, and he'll struggle to get the pub that other quarterbacks in a higher classification would receive, but he showed enough skill and talent at Dreammaker that college coaches should take notice.

Kedric Bostic (Jupiter, Fla./Christian) is another small-school passer who shouldn't be overlooked. The 6-3, 185-pounder showed very well at the camp, is very coachable and carries a 4.2 GPA.

Chris Pool has covered recruiting in Chicago and the Midwest for 15 years. He can be reached at cjpespn@yahoo.com.