Getting ready for the next step

It's hard to believe that the leading rusher from one of Florida's largest and most talent-rich areas is quietly slipping under the radar but that seems to be the case with Jeremy Donaldson (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Pines Charter).

The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder rushed for over 1,700 yards and 22 touchdowns for Hollywood Hills in 2010 but decided to switch to Pines Charter in the offseason for a fresh start.

"I just needed to make a change," said Donaldson. "Some things were happening at my old school that didn't work for me. I wanted to be in a situation where everyone is working hard."

Donaldson participated in the Under Armour combine at the Miami Dolphins practice facility earlier this month but while he had a respectable showing don't expect to see him at too many more camps this season.

"I have to spend some time with my trainer to learn how to do the combines better," Donaldson said. "There is a lot of technique that goes into them and I'm just more of a football player. I don't really think about some of the intricacies of running a particular drill. I need to train harder; I'm not quite there yet."

Right now Donaldson is without any offers but says Wisconsin, N.C. State, UCF, Boston College and FIU have all been in contact. He has gone to Miami's junior day and he's not sure what his future holds in terms of unofficial visits.

"I'm getting noticed but it's a slow process," said Donaldson. "I'm learning more about the process."

One of the reasons for his move to Pines Charter was to help him prepare for college academically and get into a situation where he could learn more about the recruiting process.

"It's a big change for me right now but I'm getting more comfortable every day," he said.

Donaldson considers himself more of a power back because he likes to run in between the tackles and right now one school stands out to him, Wisconsin.

"I like they way they play, they run the ball heavy and use a lot of backs," Donaldson said.

Right now the focus is on becoming one of the rare running backs that wins two rushing titles in Broward County. The competition is heavy, especially with players like Class of 2014 prospect Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage) nipping at his feet.

"You have to always keep an eye out for the talent in this area," Donaldson said. "It's as good as it gets. It's what makes me work harder. I want to play football as hard as I can and win big."

No combines, no problem
You won't hear much from running back Brandon Holloway (Tampa, Fla./Alonso) during the combine season this year. The 5-8, 160-pound athlete, who is also one of the state's promising track stars, spends much of his offseason training for upcoming meets.

Despite his lack of availability this time of year, Holloway already has offers from North Texas and Toledo.

"They were the first two schools to come after me and basically because they need more speed in their offenses," Holloway said. "I'll try to get to some of the junior days but it's hard with my track schedule."

There was a time when Holloway did participate in one of the several camps and combines available during the offseason, but an injury ended that experiment.

"I think it was after my freshman year, I went to a combine and messed up my hamstring," Holloway said. "And that ended my track season and the track coach wasn't too happy about that."

Nonetheless, Holloway says that track works fine for him as an offseason conditioning program. He runs the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4x100-meter relay for his school and is considered to be one of the top sprinters in the state.

He hopes that whichever program he chooses will allow him to play football and run track there.

"Track is so good for my conditioning that I'm usually able to breeze through all of the summer conditioning drills for football," said Holloway.

The next level
With former Florida-area recruits playing football around the nation, it's no surprise that the state has plenty of representation at this weekend's NFL combine. Here is a list of the players from the Sunshine State that will be participating:

Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech (Tampa, Fla./Jesuit); Armando Allen, RB, Notre Dame (Miami, Fla./Hialeah-Miami Lakes); Damien Berry, RB, Miami (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central); Ahmad Black, DB, Florida (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland); Matt Bosher, K, Miami (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter); Mario Butler, CB, Georgia Tech (St. Augustine, Fla./Nease); Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia (Fort Myers, Fla./North Fort Myers); Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton (Greenacres, Fla./John I. Leonard); Orlando Franklin, OL, Miami (Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic); Marcus Gilbert, OL, Florida (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas); Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas); Jamie Harper, RB, Clemson (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian); Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington); Lester Jean, WR, Florida Atlantic (Miami, Fla./Miami Norland); Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois (Miami, Fla./Hialeah); Greg Lloyd II, LB, UConn (Clermont, Fla./East Ridge); Colin McCarthy, LB, Miami (Clearwater, Fla./Central Catholic); Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida (Pensacola, Fla./Pensacola); Orenthal Murdock, WR, Fort Hays State (Tampa, Fla./Middleton); Jamar Newsome, WR, UCF (Gulfport, Fla./Boca Ciega); Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville (Deland, Fla./Deland); Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU (Pompano Beach, Fla./Ely); Mike Pouncey, OL, Florida (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland); Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville (Lakeland, Fla./Lake Gibson); Jah Reid, OL, UCF (Haines City, Fla./Haines City); Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh (Coral Springs, Fla./Coral Glades); Jockee Sanders, WR, West Virginia (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Pete Catholic); Robert Sands, DB, West Virginia (Miami, Fla./Carol City); Jabaal Sheard, DL, Pittsburgh (Hollywood Hills, Fla./Hollywood Hills); David Sims, DB, Iowa State (Gainesville, Fla./Gainesville); James Thomas, LB, West Virginia (Pompano Beach, Fla./Ely); Jeff Van Camp, QB, Florida Atlantic (Gulf Breeze, Fla./Navarre); Demarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami (Miami, Fla./Monsignor Pace); Markus White, DE, Florida State (West Palm Beach, Fla./John I. Leonard); Ian Williams, DT, Notre Dame (Longwood, Fla./Lyman).

• The Maxwell Football Club has named 2011 Under Armour All-American Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty) its player of the year. The 6-4, 230-pounder enrolled at Florida in January. Driskel finished his senior year with 3,152 total yards (1,819 passing and 1,333 rushing) and 35 total touchdowns. He also had two touchdown receptions. Earlier in the year Driskel was named Florida's Gatorade Player of the Year.

"I'm excited to receive this honor," Driskel said. "It's a prestigious award and to be named national player of the year is awesome. There are all kinds of people I'd like to thank who have given me help to get here, from my parents, to the coaches I've had, to my teachers, and it's great to know that all of the hard work that I've put in throughout my whole high school career has been recognized. But I think I'm most proud of my team. We never had a winning record, or were even close to a winning record before this year, and this team worked hard all summer to achieve a goal we set."

• Defensive back Tracy Howard (Miramar, Fla./Miramar) was invited to the 2012 Under Armour All-America Game this week. The 5-11, 170-pounder has offers to Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Carolina, West Virginia and Marshall. He spent the past weekend on an unofficial visit to Florida.

Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.