Recruiting watch: Columbia's Amare Ferrell chooses Indiana, DCPS' Tammie Talley wins award

·5 min read

The recruiting chase is heating up fast in Lake City.

Columbia defensive back Amare Ferrell announced his commitment Sunday night to play college football at Indiana, part of a flurry of four high-profile Northeast Florida commitments in a 30-hour span.

At 6-1, 192 pounds, the three-star defensive back — most often projected as a safety at the college level — is ranked as a top-40 prospect in the position in the 247Sports composite.

Columbia defensive back Amare Ferrell covers a receiver during the Florida High School 7v7 Association state championship in The Villages on Friday. Ferrell committed Sunday night to Indiana.
Columbia defensive back Amare Ferrell covers a receiver during the Florida High School 7v7 Association state championship in The Villages on Friday. Ferrell committed Sunday night to Indiana.

He earned All-First Coast honors last season, intercepting three passes on Columbia's road to the Class 6A playoffs. Ferrell also lined up as point guard for the Tigers' basketball team.

Meanwhile, Columbia teammate Jaden Robinson also announced over the weekend that he has trimmed his list of finalist schools down to the quartet of Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan and South Carolina. The four-star linebacker is among the nation's top 40 prospects at the position.

In addition to Ferrell, Orange Park offensive lineman Roderick Kearney (Florida State), Jackson linebacker Grayson Howard (South Carolina) and Bartram Trail cornerback Sharif Denson (Florida) all announced commitments in rapid succession. Also late Monday, First Coast defensive back Anthony Bivines announced his commitment to Howard.

Duval County Public Schools athletic director Tammie Talley receives the athletic director of the year award at the National High School Athletic Coaches Association ceremony in Iowa on June 22, 2022. [NHSACA/Provided by Tammie Talley]
Duval County Public Schools athletic director Tammie Talley receives the athletic director of the year award at the National High School Athletic Coaches Association ceremony in Iowa on June 22, 2022. [NHSACA/Provided by Tammie Talley]

Talley receives national AD honors

By the Census Bureau's count, there are 3,143 counties or county equivalents across the United States.

Duval County's Tammie Talley is now on top of them all.

The Duval County Public Schools athletic director received a surprise prize, the national athletic director of the year award on Wednesday night from the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.

"If somebody had had a picture of me," she said, "my mouth would've been wide open."

Talley received the award from a group of eight finalists at the national conference in Altoona, Iowa.

Before stepping into the DCPS role a decade ago, she held administrative and coaching roles in numerous sports, first at Paxon and then at Mandarin. Talley also served as president of the Florida Athletic Coaches Association for the 2019-20 school year, the first woman ever to lead the organization.

As she noted, the scores on the field are just one part of the mission. She credited school athletic directors, district staff members and coaches for supporting myriad tasks during the year, from facility maintenance to officiating contracts to coaching certification to player eligibility.

"It's nice that Duval County is getting this recognition," she said. "This award isn't just about me."

Jackets, Braves strong in 7-on-7

For St. Augustine, it was a weekend of nail-biters — and the football season is still two months away.

The Yellow Jackets squeaked out close win after close win on their way to the final at Saturday's Florida High School 7x7 Association championship at The Villages, eventually losing 24-14 to Sanford Seminole.

St. Augustine did it the hard way. The Jackets won four knockout games by a combined 11 points, including one victory on a game-winning score with one second to play.

Meanwhile, Parker took the top spot in the BattleLines championship at the same event, highlighting offensive and defensive linemen for schools across the state.

Bartram Trail's Grace Ivey, right, heads a shot during the 2021 Class 7A state final against Cypress Bay.
Bartram Trail's Grace Ivey, right, heads a shot during the 2021 Class 7A state final against Cypress Bay.

Ivey earns Gatorade soccer award

The awards are adding up rapidly for Bartram Trail's Grace Ivey.

The junior midfielder received her latest accolades on Thursday, winning the Gatorade Florida Girls Soccer Player of the Year for 2021-22.

She is the first winner of the Gatorade girls soccer award not only for the Bartram Trail program but for all of St. Johns County, and now becomes one of the 51 candidates — one from each of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia — for the nationwide Gatorade Player of the Year.

Ivey scored 13 goals and 11 assists last year for the Bears, who spent much of the season at No. 1 in multiple national rankings. Bartram Trail extended its winning streak to 32 games before a 3-2 loss to Creekside in the regional playoffs.

All-First Coast squad: FHSAA champions highlight Northeast Florida's best in 2021-22 girls soccer

With 40 goals and 24 assists in her three seasons at Bartram Trail, Ivey has committed to play college soccer at Texas A&M. She helped the Bears capture the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 7A championship in 2020 and 2021, the first two titles in the Bears program's history.

She has also worked her way onto the radar of the United States Soccer Federation, participating in a virtual training camp with the U.S. Under-17 women's national team while competition was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Other Gatorade Player of the Year winners from the region include the St. Johns Country Day quartet of Carson Pickett (2011-12), Chelsea Burns (2014-15), Abbey Newton (2017-18) and Kamy Loustau (2018-19), as well as Bolles' Olivia Candelino (2019-20).

Sandalwood pitcher Cooper Whited (33) delivers a pitch against Fletcher during the Gateway Conference baseball championship.
Sandalwood pitcher Cooper Whited (33) delivers a pitch against Fletcher during the Gateway Conference baseball championship.

Around the area

Sandalwood junior pitcher Cooper Whited committed to Gulf Coast College baseball. ... Jackson outfielder Keara Smith committed to Florida Memorial softball. ... Former Bolles midfielder Ariana Munoz, now at the University of North Florida, scored on her international debut for Peru's national women's soccer team in Saturday night's 5-1 loss to Mexico. ... Former St. Johns Country Day pitcher Bri Enter announced her transfer from Florida State to Minnesota for college softball. ... Former Bishop Kenny striker Sophia Hayag transferred from Wofford to UNF for women's soccer. ... Providence named former UNF pitching coach Tommy Boss as its new head coach for baseball. Boss, who replaces two-time state champion Mac Mackiewitz, also previously coached for two stints at Dunnellon. ... Fleming Island named Andy Toelken as head baseball coach. The former Clay and University of Missouri standout most recently served as an assistant at St. Johns River State College. ... Union County promoted Jiwan James to head baseball coach. ... Eagle's View named Zach Shank as athletic director. ... Ribault named Diane Butler, Laveranues Coles, Anthony Flynn, Clifford Johnson, Yolanda Smalls and Dionne Turner-Williams to its athletic hall of fame.

Clayton Freeman covers high school sports and more for the Florida Times-Union. Follow him on Twitter at @CFreemanJAX.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Recruiting watch: Columbia DB Amare Ferrell commits to Indiana football