A collection of the best prep talent in Florida arrived in Los Angeles on Monday to begin preparations for CaliFlorida Bowl VII. The annual matchup between Florida and California will be played December 31st at 3:00 pm PST from Cal-State Fullerton and be broadcast on one or more of the regional FoxSports Net channels.
The series began in 2000 with Florida holding a 4-2 advantage and the all-stars from the Sunshine State will be looking to make it three straight this Saturday. On Monday, the Florida squad completed a light practice followed by a team barbeque. Starting on Tuesday, the intensity of the workouts will pick-up and there is a lot more at stake Saturday afternoon than just another high school all-star game.
"We want to prove to everybody that we are the best state as far as high school football is concerned," Daron Rose told Warchant.com. "We will go out there and perform to the best of our abilities. The pride factor always comes in."
"It makes my job a whole lot easier," Rose said of blocking for Spiller. "I don't have to open the holes very big as I do for some other backs. He's just in and out of there."
Look for the Florida team to utilize its speed and athleticism by going to a spread offensive system. So far, there hasn't been any complaints about the wide open offense from the very talented skill players on the Florida squad."
"In practice we are getting used to the system," Spiller told Warcahnt.com. "Working in the spread offense should help me out. I'll have a first hand experience playing in that offense. That's the offense Florida runs, and they do it some at FSU."
Spiller maintains that USC, a school he visited last month, still holds a slight lead over FSU, Florida and Miami. He is scheduled to visit all three Florida schools next month.
In addition to the wide receivers, running backs and quaraterbacks, at least one offensive lineman will feel right at home blocking for a spread offense.
"It's pretty much the same system we run at Jefferson," Daron Rose said. "Every now and then we run the power-I amd stuff like that but it's pretty much four-wides, shotgun and no-huddle so it's no big adjustment to me."
The defensive side of the ball for the Florida team is equally talented.
"We are going against guys like Bryant Miller, John Paul, Leslie Stirrups and a bunch of linebackers," Rose said. "I don't know who they were (LBs) because there were so many of them coming in but there were a bunch of great linebackers out there."
In addition to game preparations, there has already been a little recruiting going on between the players.
"Guys from the big three in Florida have been pulling me," Spiller said. "I've talked to Tim Tebow, Ryan Hill, Fayson and guys like that."
With Daron Rose being the highest rated offensive lineman on the Florida team, and with him looking hard at several schools, it's no surprise that a few committed players have been in his ear already.
"There are a couple Florida guys, a couple South Carolina guys, a couple Florida State guys and pretty much everybody," Rose said. "There's Jim Barrie, Jarred Fayson and I talked to Tim Tebow, and some other guys."
Long flight for some
A majority of the Florida team flew out of Orlando on a flight to Los Angeles that took a little over five hours. That's a pretty quick trip going from coast to coast but for three big men sitting together the trip seemed a lot longer than five hours.
"For some reason they had me, Jim Barrie and Caz Piurowski all in the same row," Daron Rose said. "That's a 6-6, a 6-5 and a 6-foot-8 guy all in the same row. It's like 300 pounds, 300 pounds and 250 pounds so it was kind of tight."
This and that
* Gulliver Prep (Miami) safety Anthony Leon, an FSU commitment, was penciled in for the Florida roster but did not make the trip. However, his teammate Patrick Robinson, who is reportedly leaning to the 'Noles, is in California and will play wide receiver.
CALIFLORIDA BOWL GAME HISTORY (from StudentSports.com)
California 21, Florida 11
Florida MVP - WR Tavares Capers (Central Florida)
California MVP - DL Benard Thomas (Nebraska)
Florida 17, California 14
Florida MVP - QB Adrian McPherson (Florida State/New Orleans Saints)
California MVP - DB Dominic Robinson (Florida State)
Florida 34, California 24
Florida MVP - DB Devin Hester (Miami)
California MVP - DB Aaron Miller (Oklahoma)
California 26, Florida 15
Florida MVP - LB Ernie Sims (Florida State)
California MVP - QB Richard Irvin (Tulane)
Florida 23, California 20
Florida MVPs -- WR Keith Brown (Alabama) & LB Brandon Siler (Florida)
California MVPs - WR Marty Tadman (Boise State) & DL Brigham Harwell (UCLA)
Florida 24, California 22
Florida MVP -- RB Antone Smith (Florida State)
California MVP - RB Lydell Sargent (Penn State)