South Tampa News
Plant's Ely picks Alabama; Posada picks Michigan
It's hard to imagine Phillip Ely as a nose tackle. But the Plant High quarterback apparently hasn't forgotten any of the skills he learned at the position he played in youth football because Ely blindsided the college football world with his announcement Wednesday. Ely verbally committed to the University of Alabama, a school that offered him a scholarship only three weeks ago. One of Ely's protectors, right tackle Tony Posada, announced he is going to Michigan during a one-hour news conference at Plant's media center. "I wanted it to be a shocker. I think it's more fun that way," said Ely, who was on the phone to Alabama coach Nick Saban soon after his announcement. "I hope everyone got a kick out of it."Following in the footsteps of Robert Marve (Purdue) and Aaron Murray (Georgia), Ely became the third consecutive Division I quarterback Plant has produced. He received more than 30 Division I offers, including Clemson, LSU, Purdue and Wake Forest, but when the defending national champions pulled the trigger last month with an offer, Ely said his decision became much easier. Ely, who will wear No..12 like Joe Namath, showed up on Alabama's radar during spring practices while the Crimson Tide were checking out Plant two-way starter James Wilder Jr. Ely's beefed-up physical appearance and workout performances opened Alabama's eyes. His news conference announcement, which included the unveiling of an Alabama tie and hat, left a lot mouths open and drew gasps from a few people in the crowd. "It was a shocker," Plant head coach Robert Weiner said. "Just the way it came about, kind of gave us the opportunity to do that. "I told him after he made his decision that he had the opportunity to really, really surprise a lot of people." Posada also showed off a Michigan tie and hat when he announced his decision. Both players were key contributors to the Panthers' back-to-back state championships and 27-2 record the past two seasons. Posada emerged as one of the top offensive linemen in the country toward the end of last season and the offers soon flooded in. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Posada was ready to commit to Michigan, over Florida and USF, soon after his campus visit. "That program has so much history, it felt like I just had to go with them," Posada said. "I'm happy to get this out of the way so I just have to worry about practice. "I don't have to worry about (recruiting) when I go home. Now I can just concentrate on my senior season."