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Pitt FB Recruiting

Pitt Extends Offers to Standout 8th and 9th Graders from Florida



The bottom line is talent is talent no matter what age or grade you’re in which appears to be philosophy of the Pitt football staff.

Most times, we’re reporting on offers that are made to seniors, juniors and sophomores.

That’s not the case today as Pitt extended an offer to an eighth and ninth grader from Florida. Yes, that’s not a typo. Pitt offered a eight and ninth grader.

This morning, Charlie Partridge was at Cocoa High School and extended offers to eighth grader Cedrick Hawkins and ninth grader O.J. Ross.

Ross is a running back/defensive back and jumped into a starting role for Cocoa in Week 7 all the way through the state title game. Pitt becomes his first Power Five offer while he also holds ones from Toledo and Florida Atlantic.

Courtesy of OJ Ross

The story with Hawkins is very unique.

Although he’s currently in 8th grade, Hawkins’ talent level was so elite that he not only played on the varsity team at Cocoa, he started every game at cornerback.

Pittsburgh Sports Now had a chance to talk with Craig Spencer, who’s the wide receiver coach at Cocoa High School and is someone that’s very familiar with both players.

“They joined our program this summer from our youth program and it was evident that they were both special,” said Spencer. “As soon as they joined us, we knew right off the bat that they were different and special. Despite being so young, both were so focused in practice and workouts. We knew right away they had the ‘it factor.’

“OJ came in and from day one was always with the older guys and always anxious to learn and wants to master his craft. We have a lot of talented running backs and receivers at Cocoa and OJ was always picking their brains about something wanting to learn and get better.”

“Cedrick was just a whole different beast,” Spencer said. “He walked onto the field like he was a senior. If you look at him (5-foot-11, 175 pounds), you’d never be able to tell that’s he just an 8th grader. Right now, we have him at cornerback. He’s an athletic kid and can play both sides of the ball.”

Courtesy of Cocoa HS Football

Being so young, I tried to have Spencer look into the future and project what the futures of Ross and Hawkins look like.

“OJ plays running back and defensive back,” Spencer said. “I think when it’s all said and done, he’ll end up being one of the best running backs to ever come through Cocoa, and that’s saying a lot. Right now, he’s only 160 pounds, but runs through the tackles like he’s 200 pounds. He’s not afraid to drop his shoulder and with his speed, OJ has great vision. That’s something you can teach, you have to just have it and he does.”

“Cedrick has the whole package. He has great ball skills, he plays physical despite being an eighth grader. From day one, he lined up against the opposing team’s top receiver. Honestly, the sky is the limit with him and will only continue to get better. The scary part is that he started in the state title game and only allowed one completed pass.”

Having their players receive D-1 offers isn’t anything new to Cocoa, but the news today even surprised Spencer some.

“I’m somewhat surprised but on the other hand, knowing the kids, their work ethic and how they don’t play like their young, it’s not that surprising,” he said. “I’m happy for both of them, they deserve it.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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