Estopinan Nears Decision

Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 5:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 5:49 p.m.

South Miami (Fla.) inside linebacker Javier Estopinan has Florida in the mix for his upcoming commitment in the next few days, said South Miami coach Joe Mira.

"He's narrowed it down to three schools: Florida, North Carolina State and Ohio State," Mira said. "He has informed me that he'll probably be making a decision (soon)."

Mira said Estopinan enjoyed his visit to Gainesville and was impressed by how well he was treated.

What separates Estopinan from other linebackers at the high school level is his tenacity and toughness, Mira said. A little-known fact about the 6-3, 230-pound linebacker is that he played with an injured ankle after his first game as a senior, but that did not bring down his performance level one bit.

"His ankle blew up like a grapefruit," Mira said. "He got hurt the very

first game and he never skipped a beat, never missed a day of practice and never missed a football game. His work ethic and toughness are impeccable."

Estopinan was also a state champion wrestler as a junior. His wrestling ability improved his leverage, hand strength and positioning ability, Mira said.

In addition to his toughness, Mira said Estopinan learns defenses quickly and often picks up on defensive schemes before receiving a full explanation.

"He is an exceptional student of the game," Mira said. "He really starts to understand what you're trying to accomplish [on defense] before you're done explaining it to him."

While Mira admitted Estopinan still has to develop some of his skills as a linebacker, the talent is there for him to excel at the college level and perhaps beyond.

"He runs a 4.65 [40-yard dash]. The guy has tremendous athletic ability," Mira said. "I haven't had a whole lot of players that I felt would have the opportunity to do well at [the college level] and then maybe go to the next one, but I do feel that about Javy."

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