Noel Devine has been one of the most talked about prospects on the Internet for some time. He exploded on the high school football scene as a freshman sensation at North Fort Myers (Fla.) High School. Devine is a unique player that doesn't come around too often. He has talents that you can't coach and only marvel at. Devine, 5-8 and 170 pounds, has work to do in the classroom if he hopes to make it to the next level. According to his coach, he is doing what it takes and his classroom attendence has been perfect. That's good because the college football world will be more fun to watch with Devine in it.
"Noel has been a model citizen both off the field and in the classroom," said James Iandoli, his high school head coach. "He has exceeded expectations so far as a student. Noel work ethic in the classroom has been beyond the expectations I had for him. He saw the writing on the wall and is doing something about it. His plate is full. For Noel right now it's his kids, school and football and in that order."
North Fort Myers High School is off to a 2-0 start. In their opening game the defense they were facing put nine men in the box to stop Devine. So Landoli and his staff split Devine out wide as a receiver. He finished the game with 150 rushing yards and 150 receiving yards and scored three touchdowns. In week two he had 250 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards and he scored four touchdowns. This week they face Ida Baker, a team they beat in their pre-season jamboree. In that game Devine rushed four times for 164 yards and scored four touchdowns.
"Believe it or not, his receiving skills are just as good as his running skills. This kid has a 42-inch vertical and incredible hands. There isn't anything he can't do. He is like trying to catch a water beetle and it can't be done."
According to coach Iandoli Devine has been busy talking with the college coaches across the country, as they could begin to call him as of September 1st. "They are all calling him now and I think it is the same coaches. I definitely know that FSU has called. So has Nebraska, LSU, Texas, Florida, Michigan and others. The heavy hitters of college football have all called. But I know I can tell you this, Noel has no idea what is out there and where he will end up."
I have to admit, when it comes to evaluating running backs, I am a little biased towards the big back, for one reason and one reason only, you have to have the ability to break tackles at the next level. But there are some backs that are exceptions to that rule. One in particular is Devine. This kid is just so darn exciting and fun to watch, like Reggie Bush was at USC. Everytime he touch the ball you just hold your breath in anticipation.
Devine has it all except for that great size you like to see in a running back. But Barry Sanders and Warrick Dunn were not the biggest backs and they faired pretty well after their high school careers were over. Devine is a special talent, one that comes along rarely. First and foremost Devine has unbelievable instincts and does things on the field you can't coach. He has unreal vision and balance, two traits most of the great running backs all have in common. Devine has super speed and quickness and will blow you away with his surprising power. In space, he is absolutely deadly. He can shake and bake with the best of them or run right through you.
Devine is a home run hitter that can be a threat to score from anywhere on the field. He is tough enough to run between the tackles and definitely fast enough to get around the edge. He hits the hole hard and once he's downhill and in the second level, watch out.
If there is a better football player or prospect in the nation among the class of 2007, then I want to see him. And with Devine working extra hard in the classroom hopefully we will all get to see him playing college ball next season.