SI99 DB Earl Little Jr. Talks Recruiting After Senior Debut

John Garca Jr.

Sports Illustrated

Aug 23, 2021

PLANTATION, Fla. -- Not many prospects at any position, much less defensive back, are as coveted as Earl Little Jr.

The NFL legacy prospect and member of the preseason SI99 rankings, who plays all over the secondary for Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage, has collected nearly 40 scholarship offers entering his senior prep season in what has long been a national recruitment.

But on Friday it was all about the now. The Patriots opened up the 2021 slate in the biggest high school game nationally Friday evening, hosting Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy and battling before the Ascenders pulled away in the second half for a 35-15 triumph.

Getting back on the field against the defending high school national champions was no small feat.

"It felt great, first off," Little told SI All-American. "Me, coming into my senior year, it felt amazing to get back out here on the field, competing with my teammates. Just playing it through.

"We didn't get the outcome that we wanted, but we're still going to fight. It was a preseason game, they got that, but we'll be on our P's and Q's, go back to practice, back to the grind, and show out for the regular season."

AHS is coming off of a state championship 2020 season in which the defense did most of the heavy lifting. The offense brings back a lot of experience and added top talent, like new Oklahoma commitment Brandon Inniss, in the offseason.

Little feels confident in the 2021 roster and knows his role will stretch beyond splashing in the secondary from an athletic standpoint.

"Leadership," he said. "I like to lead by example, that's what I do for my team, I'm not too much of a talker when it comes to leading."

On Friday, Little lined up at cornerback, worked the nickel position and had some deep responsibility as well. At 6', 185 pounds with physicality and technique on his side, projecting him to the next level could include a similar fluidity. It's something brought up by some of the programs commanding his attention most.

"Alabama, LSU, and Florida," he said. "They talk about playing like I do here.

"Playing all those positions, it makes me more versatile, so that's how I like to play everything. I feel like I can play every position and I feel like that's how I can help the team. At corner, they'll put me outside and may need me to start. They'll put me at safety, nickel, because I'm versatile."

Little, like most recruits following a 15-month long dead period, hit the road this summer for a closer look at contenders. He took an official visit to USC as well as unofficial visits to Alabama, Florida State and Miami. He will take additional official visits in the fall, though each destination is to be determined.

What is already laid out is how one of the nation's top secondary prospects will evaluate the programs still in contention.

"Whoever produces their DBs the best,' he said. "I like how all those schools carry themselves on and off the field. I feel like I can go to one of those organizations, being brought up like those other players did.

"Production. I need to see production throughout the season with the DBs."

Tracking the handful of programs in the mix, Little says, will be done both on television and in person at games this fall. Among them he will trek to includes one of the marquee season-opening contests as Alabama and Miami compete in Atlanta on September 4.

Several trips are to follow before a verbal commitment is to be made.

"I'm taking it to the end, National Signing Day in December," Little said. "Stay tuned!"

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