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Starting Early

May 21, 2001

Boca Raton News
Guest Commentary: Howard Schnellenberger

The annual spring hunting season for next year's crop of high school senior football players opened on May 1. Our assistant football coaches are working as hunters and combing every nook and cranny of the Florida Atlantic Territory to get our first evaluation. They're excited and encouraged by the great success we've had in our first two seasons and making the most of our potential to bring home The Territory's best players.

With 24 players and 31 signees in the fold, we look to this fertile area to fill selective needs. Coaches Vagotis and Romero are following their traditional paths in Dade County that run from County Line Road and south to Florida City. Coach Alfredo Roberts has returned to his childhood neighborhood and area of recruiting responsibility in Broward County. Coach Van Valkenburgh is patrolling along I-95 to continue his fruitful and successful recruiting pattern in Palm Beach County. Venturing off the highway, Kurt makes his way to the lake areas and covers those productive schools that lie in the heartland.

Coach Kirk Hoza is wearing out US 75 from Naples through Ft. Myers and into the South Tampa Bay area. Our junior recruiter Mel Mills is duplicating his successful efforts in Orlando and the fertile grounds along Highway 27 which splits the state. Coach Seiple is working his professional-bred evaluation skills way up north to Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River counties.

These same seven coaches have worked these areas for two previous years and established relationships in every high school. On first name basis with principals, academic advisors and coaches, they have good handle on sophomores and juniors as they rise to the recruitable age.

These Florida Atlantic workmen have spent more hours in the 327 schools that make up The Territory than any other football program in America. Dedicated to this area and determined to improve the lot with each high school coach, our staff shares the latest techniques and new professional ideas with each receptive coach they find. With the cooperation of these coaching friends, there's no possible way for us to overlook or misjudge any potential student athlete.

A plan already tried and true for years past is demonstrating once again that a collegiate championship program can be developed from the wonderful raw athletic material that we find right here.

On the last day of hunting season, our coaches will assemble on campus to compile their list of names. The numbers will add up to nearly 1,000. Over the next five months, we'll learn more about and evaluate each player so that by the time the November-December-January recruiting period comes, the list will be boiled down to the 250 most suitable players to help our program take the first steps toward the championship.



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