Deion Sanders taking in prospect
Noel Devine, a top recruit from Florida, will move to N. Texas
01:12 AM CDT on Saturday, June 11, 2005
By DAMON SAYLES / The Dallas Morning News
One of Florida's most highly touted high school football players said Friday he is moving to Texas to live with Deion Sanders.
Running back Noel Devine, a Cape Coral, Fla., resident who just completed his sophomore year, said he is transferring from North Fort Myers (Fla.) High School to Prosper and will live with Sanders. Sanders, a 1985 North Fort Myers graduate, confirmed that Devine will live with him and attend Prosper, a Class 2A school north of Frisco. Sanders, who signed a one-year contract Wednesday with the Baltimore Ravens, said he is considering adopting Devine.
Devine, 17, rushed for more than 2,700 yards and scored more than 30 touchdowns in his first two varsity seasons. Both of Devine's parents are deceased, and he's been living with a friend, Robert Harlow, for the last three years, said Devine's 25-year-old cousin, LeDondrick Rowe.
"My wife would tell you all through our life together that I've talked about adopting a child and giving a kid a chance who otherwise wouldn't have one," said Sanders, who met Devine earlier this year. "It's about giving someone an opportunity to have a chance in life."
Said Devine: "I think it'll be a great opportunity for me. He'll be able to help me with everything I need help on. Some of the people [in Florida] think I'll be better off there. I think I'll be better off, too."
On the football field, Devine (5-8, 170) balances blazing speed with impressive strength. He has been clocked in the 40-yard dash in under 4.3 seconds, and he bench presses 340 pounds and squats 415 pounds. He's expected to be one of the top recruits nationally for the Class of 2007.
"He's an obvious candidate to be one of the top 10 or 15 players in the country, if not No. 1," said Rivals.com recruiting analyst Bobby Burton. "He's not just good. He's big-time."
For Devine to be eligible to play athletics for the upcoming season, he'll have to fill out an application for a hardship waiver of the athletic parent residence rule, UIL athletic coordinator Mark Cousins said. According to the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules, all students not living with either a natural parent or a legal guardian or living outside his designated attendance zone must apply for this waiver then explain why the move was involuntary and unavoidable.
"We've got a waiver officer who would make the determination that the student warrants a waiver," Cousins said. "If the waiver is granted, and he meets all eligibility, he'll be allowed to play."
Devine, who said he is a B student, has six schools on his short list of college choices Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Miami, Michigan, Georgia, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Florida State, Sanders' alma mater. He wants to major in business and be an entrepreneur Ã¢â‚¬â€œ that is, if he's not fortunate to make the professional ranks.
Devine's varsity football background has been remarkable. He rushed for 1,668 yards and scored 23 touchdowns as a sophomore, and he rushed for more than 1,092 yards, scored 12 touchdowns and averaged nine yards a carry as a freshman.
Internet highlight reels have featured Devine's best runs on both rivals.com and sunshinepreps.net. Photos of Devine pressing 315 pounds as a freshman also have been posted on the Internet.
"What he does on the field and the fact that he has two more years of high school football is amazing," sunshinepreps.net administrator Derek Williams said. "It's almost freakish."