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December 20, 2008ORLANDO- Minutes after his team's 34-14 loss to Tampa Plant in the Class 4A state finals, Lincoln senior utility player Jawanza Starling began reflecting on his future.
After refusing to talk to any media about his recruitment until the season was officially over, Starling finally opened up.
"I'm going to take a much needed break, focus on school, relax, get situated and start the next chapter in my life," Starling said.
After starting the season 3-3, many people rode off Lincoln (11-4), claiming they wouldn't even make the playoffs much less the state championship game; however the Trojans rattled off seven consecutive wins to make it to Orlando.
Facing University of Georgia commitment quarterback Aaron Murray and his arsenal of weapons including highly recruited tight end Orson Charles; Lincoln found itself in a deep hole early on with a 28-0 halftime deficit, but regrouped in the second half thanks to Starling.
Down 7-0, Starling bit on a pass play going for the interception and fell down, watching Charles soar down the sideline untouched for a 72-yard touchdown pass.
The second half was a different story as Lincoln outscored Plant 14-6, including a 29-yard touchdown pass to Starling from Ryan White, which cut the lead to 28-14.
Starling, who came into the state final with over 600 all-purpose yards on offense and 61 tackles, was held to 4 catches and 71 yards, 90 all-purpose yards and seven tackles.
With the season over, Starling will now focus his attention to setting up recruiting visits and choosing the right college for him.
"I haven't decided yet as far as setting up visits," Starling said, "Probably won't narrow my top five til January."
Starling lists offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Cal, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Oregon, South Carolina and USC and stated that "At this point I don't have any favorites."
Plant tight end Orson Charles, who lists offers from as many as 15 schools including Florida, closed his career with a bang.
Charles, (1019 yards on 48 catches, 16 touchdowns), finished his career with a 132 yard, 6 catches, 2 touchdown performance against Lincoln.
Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Illinois, Louisville, Miami, Michigan, Ole Miss, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Florida and Tennessee all have offered Charles.
After the Plant seniors accepted the Class 4A state championship trophy, Charles managed to get a hold of the trophy and was seen running with it, causing quite a nervous moment.
Plant head coach Robert Weiner was heard 30 yards away yelling at Charles to put down the trophy slowly, referring to an incident in April Charles had in Gainesville while on a recruiting visit.
While in Gainesville competing in a Nike training camp, Charles and another player were touring the football stadium, where the 2006 BCS national championship trophy and Tim Tebow's Heisman Trophy was displayed.
Charles leaned over to take a photo of the Heisman Trophy and bumped into the Waterford Crystal BCS trophy, which was sitting on a coffee table, shattering it.