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SI99 DL Sapp Headed Back to State Final, Talks February Signing Plans

Longtime Florida commitment considering late push from Alabama

VALRICO, Fla. -- Few outsiders would be surprised by Friday night news of Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas punching its ticket to the Class 7A state championship game after a dominating 37-14 win over Valrico (Fla.) Bloomingdale High. 

But in south Florida, especially after falling to crosstown foe Cardinal Gibbons earlier this fall, the Raiders' rise to the end game played much less like a guarantee. 

Just ask star defensive lineman Tyreak Sapp, who wreaked havoc with two sacks, a forced fumble and registered another hit on the opposing passer that led to an interception. 

"It's unbelievable, the work we've had to put in to get here," he told SI All-American. "Not just the adversity of having a senior season or not, but the doubters saying this is one of the worst STA teams to be assembled. 

"Just so much adversity, so much that this team has had to push through. I'm just grateful to be here at this point." 

Aquinas will face Orlando (Fla.) Edgewater in the title game for a second straight season next Saturday. 

With the Early Signing Period opening up during the week of prep Wednesday, though, don't expect Sapp to sign and lock in his future despite a near two-year long verbal commitment to the University of Florida. 

"I'm not gonna be signing," he said. "With everything going on, COVID-19 and everything, I just want to take my time and really just think through this decision. Not rush anything, make sure everything is set up right."

As familiar with Florida as it gets, with considerable visits to Gainesville before the NCAA rolled out a dead period spanning most of 2020, Alabama has emerged as a contender to push for a potential flip. 

"Everybody knows Alabama is football home," he said. "I'm not gonna lie, you have one good season at Alabama, you're going to the NFL. That's one of the main factors." 

Fellow SI99 pass rusher and STA star Dallas Turner, who is committed to Alabama, helps Sapp bring the heat on opposing quarterbacks. Sapp admits the thought of doing the same at the next level that has played an influence on Alabama's chances as has a connection via the NFL great who coaches the two every day -- Jason Taylor. 

The former Miami Dolphin played under Alabama head coach Nick Saban during his last tenure in the league. 

"My D-line coach and Saban got a little bit of ties," Sapp said. "He gives me detailed conversations about what type of coach (Saban) is. He kind of takes some of that mentality and puts it into his way of coaching." 

While there is a title to win and recruiting evaluations to make over the next six weeks or so, Sapp says Florida fans shouldn't be concerned about him changing his mind just yet. 

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"Not at all, no reason to worry," he said. "School, off the field, things like that. The players I know there, it's just home. I've got family up there. There's a whole lot of factors to why I stay committed. 

"They're consistent. I love the coaching staff, absolutely love the coaching staff. It's the same thing every week, they beat the teams they're supposed to beat. They get tested, fight through adversity and get it done." 

Regardless of where the signature is filed on February 3, the first day of the traditional signing period, the senior says his ending destination lies beyond the SEC. 

"It's my mindset, being an unstoppable force," Sapp said. "I'm on the field to hunt, kill and destroy. I'm the baddest mother...on the field. That's how I think.

"No matter where I go, I feel like I'm going to be an NFL player regardless."

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