Plantation American Heritage (FL) High track and field coach Gregory Barnes was keeping a close eye on a few of his athletes on Wednesday during the second National Signing Day period for football players.
Three of his coveted athletes inked with collegiate programs, including 5-star cornerbacks Patrick Surtain and Tyson Campbell, who went with Alabama and Georgia, respectively. Anthony Schwartz, a 4-star receiver, went with Auburn University.
All three are also part of an expectant dominant 4x100 squad in 2018, though Surtain is likely to cut the cord with track once he arrives on campus in Tuscaloosa. Schwartz's main sticking point with the Tigers was that they give him a chance to compete at track and football -- and, according to Barnes, all signs point toward Auburn allowing him to do that.
There's no doubt Schwartz, who owns a world youth record in the 100m in 10.15 seconds, has a bright future in the sprints. He will enter his outdoor season hoping to become the first high school prep to ever run under 10 seconds in the 100m.
But a little more persuading may need to happen in Campbell's case.
Barnes says he wants the senior, who won two FHSAA Class 2A championships in the 100m and 200m when Schwartz went down with an injury last spring, to give collegiate track a shot at the next level.
While the 6-foot-2, 170-pound cover cornerback could immediately step on the field for the Bulldogs, who were part of the college football playoff this season, he has also advised the teenager that joining Georgia in track and field could be just as crucial.
The Bulldogs, after all, are one of the top track programs in the nation, with its women's team finishing second overall at the NCAA outdoor championships. The men were sixth. Campbell would be either the second- or third-fastest sprinter on the squad based on times from this past season. He owns a top time of 10.41 seconds in the 100m and 20.80 in the 200m, though Barnes believes the senior will cut those times significantly this spring.
"I told him, 'Don't box yourself in by not running track anymore,'" Barnes said. "He could run 10.1 or 10.2 this year and then if he doesn't keep it up that could change. I told him if he runs 4.2 seconds (in the 40 yard dash) at the combine, you'll be off the charts."
Campbell says he isn't thinking too far ahead just yet.
"(I want to be) a true freshman and be a freshman All-American," he said of his upcoming football career in college. "A big-time player. I haven't thought about track. I don't know if I want to run."
If Campbell did join the Bulldogs, Barnes said, it could eventually provide major dividends for him down the road.
"Wherever I've coached, I've always told my athletes this," Barnes said. "I know, because I was in his same position. I was the same kid. And I tell them, 'You have to keep your speed. If you run fast, that's it, nothing else matters.'"
Barnes points to one of his case studies: Miami Monsignor Pace graduate DeMarcus Van Dyke. The cornerback from Miami was also a 4-star prospect and was considering dropping track for football at the Division I level.
But after signing with Miami in 2007, he doubled in track and eventually was invited to the NFL combine in 2011.
He ran the fifth-fastest 40 yard dash in NFL combine history in 4.28 seconds and was drafted in the third round in ensuing months.