Freddie Stevenson, a top linebacker recruit, visited the Jimbo Fisher Camp over the weekend. Stevenson plays for Bartow (Fla.) High School. He's 6'1, 230 pounds with good speed, and can be described as a run-and-hit 'backer. The various recruiting sites give him three or four stars.
Unfortunately for Stevenson, he was injured last November, breaking his fibula. The January surgery required a plate and pins to be inserted in his leg. The pins are now out, but when doctors remove them, they discovered that the cartilage in his ankle was insufficient. Doctors filled the ankle with gel, and Stevenson now says that he is close to 90 percent. He was officially cleared during the last week of spring football, but didn't want to risk re-injury while his rehab continued.
Despite the injury, top schools have stuck by Stevenson. He holds double digit offers and recently named his top four schools. They are Florida State, Texas A&M, Penn State and Florida, though the Gators have yet to offer.
I spoke with Stevenson about each of his top schools.
"With Florida State, it's the system that they have to support your whole life, the comfort I have up here, and my relationship with the coaching staff," Stevenson said. "I talk with Odell Haggins and am starting to talk to Hudson," he offered, speaking of Haggins, Florida State's defensive line coach who recruits Bartow's region, and Hudson, FSU's linebacker coach.
"A&M was my first offer, and they're going to the SEC and are going to get better," Stevenson said of the Aggies. "I talk with coach Wallerstedt," he added. [Editor's note: on the tape, Stevenson sounds like he says "Wallace." But Texas A&M does not have a coach named Wallace listed on its roster of coaches, and Wallerstedt is close and recruits Stevenson's position for the Aggies.]
"I love how Penn State develops linebackers, and I like coach [Stan] Hixon," Stevenson said. Hixon has been instrumental in Penn State's renewed recruiting efforts in the Sunshine State.
"With UF I was not sure about them running some 3-4 [defensive alignment], but the visit there made me real comfortable and I guess the 3-4 is not that big of a deal," Stevenson said of the Gators. Stevenson is being recruited by Derek Lewis, Florida's area recruiter, and D.J. Durkin, UF's linebacker coach.
Academics will play a major role in Stevenson's recruitment. "Football won't last forever," he said. "I want to study business management," he added. Asked if he knew what type of business he'd like to run, Stevenson was unsure.
Stevenson has not yet tripped to Texas A&M or Penn State. He plans to use his official visits (paid for by the university) to visit College Station and Happy Valley. I asked him if distance would be a factor in his recruitment and he indicated that it would not.
I asked if he might commit to either in-state school before taking the trips, which typically occur later in the year. "Only if there was no doubt. It would have to be perfect," Stevenson said. Stevenson said he does not have a specific timetable to make his decision, but since it likely won't happen until after the official visits, it's safe to say it won't occur for at least a few months.