Maxpreps 2012 All-Americans: Lake Wales' Hiers, Auburndale's James Make List
Sat. January 05, 2013 at 3:00 a.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
Luke Hiers, left, and Derwin James
By BILL KEMP
LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
All-State honors are not the pinnacle for Polk County prep football players anymore. Two sophomores stepped under the national spotlight this week.
Lake Wales center Luke Hiers and Auburndale linebacker Derwin James were named to the MaxPreps 2012 Sophomore All-American football team on Wednesday.
Hiers was a first-team selection on the offensive line while James was a second-team honoree at linebacker.
"I didn't expect it at all. It popped up on my dad's phone," Hiers said. "It just shows the work I put in paid off."
Lake Wales head coach Rod Shafer said he knew Hiers was a special player a year ago when he became only the fourth freshman to ever start for him in 37 years of coaching — and the first on the offensive line.
"He's just a football guru," Shafer said. "He can really play off the ball. You have to understand he is a 4.0 GPA kid."
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Hiers has already attracted offers from LSU and Florida and the attention of several other Division-1 programs.
"Anyone that has ever seen him play offers him," Shafer said.
Both Hiers and James were selected to the 2012 Florida Class 5A All-State team on Friday, Hiers as a third-team offensive lineman and James as an honorable mention utility player.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound James has also been starting since he was a freshman, and he said competing against upperclassmen has never daunted him.
"I put on my jersey the same way they do so there is nothing to be scared of," James said. "When I'm out on the field I don't even think about what age I am. I just play to the best of my ability each and every play. I don't even think about being an underclassman."
Splitting his playing time between offense and defense this year, the Auburndale athlete recorded 25 tackles and one sack and rushed for 641 yards with seven touchdowns.
"He has always done special stuff as a freshman and sophomore," Auburndale head coach Ken Grantham said. "He's rangy. He's got those long arms and legs and can cover a lot of ground. And he can hit you real fast.
"He loves to compete and has a good time doing it. The good Lord has just blessed him with so much talent. Nothing bothers him. He's a really bright young man and does well in the classroom."