FT. MYERS, Fla. - You've read the talk on the message boards about the sophomore running back who's been shredding defenses in Florida. You might have even seen the highlight clips yourself floating around that leave people in awe. Yet, the biggest question still remains - who is Noel Devine?
Devine, is a 5-foot-8, 165-pound junior-to-be from North Ft. Myers, Fla. He recently turned 16, already has a bench press of 330 pounds and stats that rival any of the nation's best prospects.
Devine rushed for 1,092 yards and averaged 9 yards per carry as a freshman and then backed that up with an effort that produced 1,668 yards and 23 touchdowns as a sophomore. He earned third team all-state honors in Class 4A this past season.
It's stats like those and an array of moves on film that remind people of Barry Sanders, another back that was short in stature but tall in talent. Devine gushes when the comparisons to Sanders are made, but his coach feels that he compares better to another former NFL great.
"A lot of the college coaches I talk to like to compare him to Tony Dorsett," said North Fort Myers coach James Iandoli.
"He's got it all, and I think his best quality is that he is a downhill runner. He doesn't lose any speed when he changes direction and there have been very few players that can do that."
Again, don't forget that Devine will only be a junior this upcoming year. No doubt Devine is extremely talented, but perhaps it is his mental outlook that gives him the extra edge.
"Every time I get the ball, I want to get it in the end zone," Devine said. "I am just trying to break blocks and do what I have to do to get the ball in the end zone. I want my team to win, and that is my No. 1 goal every time."
Some times when an athlete receives an enormous amount of attention early in their careers, they become cocky or selfish, but that is not the case for Devine.
"He is such a great kid," Iandoli said. "He's a quiet kid who likes to be around his friends and he surrounds himself with the right people. He loves to fish and I take him fishing all the time, we really have a great time out there. He is just an absolute joy to be around."
The one question everyone has for Devine likely involves what colleges he is hearing from and which ones he is most interested in.
"I am getting a lot of mail from Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Rutgers, Pittsburgh and a bunch of others already through my coach," Devine said. "Growing up I was always a Miami fan because they are good every year and they have great athletes."
Now you know who Noel Devine is, and you can officially take him out of the mystery man category and firmly plant him toward the top of the names for elite prospects in the class of 2007.