The Manatee defense had an underwhelming season, but Garrett Ware was a consistent bright spot for an inexperienced and inconsistent Hurricanes unit. The linebacker, who also made occasional appearances as a tight end, led the Canes with 112 tackles, including four tackles for a loss and one sack. As a team captain, he was the steady leader Manatee’s defense needed.
The senior’s career in Bradenton ended last month, but he should be moving on to Division I football next year. Ware will take a pair of official visits during January to the two Football Championship Subdivision schools that have offered him. Ware has already scheduled a trip to Stetson and plans to visit Valparaiso around the same time.
The Hatters, so far, have left the biggest impression, as Ware has had a chance to visit the DeLand campus for a pair of games. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior has a number of friends who are committed to play sports at Stetson and is also excited by the possibility of continuing to play with Hurricanes quarterback A.J. Colagiovanni, who also has an offer from the Hatters.
Running backs coach Matt Diniak has led Ware’s recruitment with Stetson and Ware has also talked a lot with linebackers coach Bob Majeski.
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“They’re good crisp football,” Ware said of the Hatters. “I really like their defense and how they’re set up, and how they set their linebackers.”
Ware hasn’t had a chance to visit Valparaiso, Ind., although he did watch Valpo beat Stetson in Florida on Oct. 15. Tight ends coach Sami Caygoz has led the Crusaders’ recruitment of Ware and had an in-home visit with the linebacker.
Ware has also spoken with coaches from Davidson, another FCS program, and Marshall, although the Thundering Herd are mostly considering giving Ware a chance as a preferred walk-on, rather than a scholarship player.
And while Ware is committed to playing linebacker in college, he was also the Canes’ starting long snapper this year and works occasionally with private coach Craig Montgomery, who last year sent Manatee’s Andrew Zink and Saint Stephen’s Jacob Westberry on to Football Bowl Subdivision programs as long snappers.
“I definitely want to play linebacker in college,” Ware said, “but I’ve been long snapping my whole life.”
The first two schools to offer will have a leg up. Stetson first offered Ware in June, and Valpo followed a month later.
“They’re both just super adamant about me,” Ware said. “So I think that’s what I like the most.”
News and nuggets:
- A week after picking up his first offer from Ohio, Braden River junior Deshaun Fenwick pulled in an offer from Mississippi. The running back and wide receiver was the Pirates’ No. 2 both out of the backfield and in the passing game this fall, and should take on an even bigger role next season.
- IMG Academy senior Cesar Ruiz, the No. 1 center in 247sports.com’s national composite rankings, committed to Michigan on Monday. The commitment continues the Wolverines’ New Jersey-to-Michigan pipeline. Ruiz is originally from Camden, N.J., and overcame a difficult upbringing before coming to Bradenton.