May 23, 2015

Rockets fully loaded: Extra Miami Central spring/recruiting notes

Keir Thomas**I wrote a feature on Central both in the paper and online. Make sure you check that out as well. You should also check out Bill Daley's write-up on Columbus' win over St. Pete Lakewood.**

Here are a few more notes I came away with from the Rockets’ Green and White Game on Saturday.

--That defense is to be feared! Half of the guys on the starting unit already look like they’re in college. Donavan Thompson, Keir Thomas (pictured to the left) and Eric Mitchell are absolutely fierce. Mitchell, came off the edge unblocked and drilled quarterback Anthony “Mo” Hasan so hard I was concerned for Mo’s health. He turned out to be OK; he's a tough kid.

--Regarding four-star receiver Darnell Salomon, he broke down for me why he liked each of his top five.

Oregon: “Oregon has that fast-pace offense, spread team. Great for a receiver like me.” Darnell Salomon

Oklahoma: “I’m great with the receivers coach [Dennis Simmons]. We’ve got a bond. I talk to him like every week.”

Texas: “They throw the ball 40 times a game.”

Alabama: “Always been a fan of them.”

FSU: “They’re starting all their freshmen receivers and they become big time, so that’s great.”

Salomon (pictured to the right) added Miami is also recruiting him hard and he talks to running backs coach Tim “Ice” Harris every two weeks. He says the Hurricanes would be next if he extended his top to six.

Thompson, a three-star middle linebacker at 5-10, 220 says no one is ahead between Arkansas, Oregon State and USF, but he does say former Central coach Telly Lockette being an assistant at Oregon State gives the Beavers an advantage.

“He kind of knows me, kind of knows my weaknesses, and if I go up there, he can basically keep an eye on me and tell me how it is instead of sugar-coating it,” Thompson said.

Like I mention in my story, Waynmon Steed told me UM coaches have said he reminds them of Sean Spence.

“I want to start my own legacy, but to be compared to Sean Spence, that’s a good comparison. I don’t mind it.”

About being committed to the hometown team, Steed, who also has offers from FAU and Texas-San Antonio says, “It’s a great thing. [I’ve] got to represent 305. My family is a big fan of Miami and I just get to stay home.”

While committed, Steed adds that he’s still open as more offers begin to come in.

Jamel Cook calls himself 100-percent committed to FSU but still wants to enjoy the recruiting process and take his visits – Alabama, Auburn, Louisville, UM, FSU are in the mix for visits from him.

He likes the family atmosphere at FSU with former teammates Dalvin Cook, DaVante Phillips and Calvin Brewton all up there.

“With me going up there, there’s just family. I have people that push me to work hard, stay behind me and push me to do what’s right,” Cook says.

Another Cook, James, who is an eighth grader now and rising freshman that will be enrolling at Central in August, already has hype surrounding him. That’s because he’s Dalvin Cook’s little brother. I’m certainly excited to see what he can do once the season starts as he’s already receiving recruiting interest from major programs.

May 22, 2015

Emptying the Notebook: St. Thomas Aquinas Spring Scrimmage

HarriottThere’s a new head coach at St. Thomas Aquinas, but there’s still the same talent we’re used to.

Roger Harriott (pictured to the left), after one season coaching running backs at FAU following his successful stint with University School, is at the helm of his alma mater, and his Raiders looked especially impressive at their Blue and Gold Game on Thursday.

A bit of a theme in talking to players is that they don’t feel like a team but rather a family since Harriott took over.

For Sam Bruce, a UM commit who played under Harriott at U-School for two years, he has the privilege to be reunited with him.

“It’s a blessing that he’s here,” says Bruce, the high-end four-star receiver. “I was very elated [when I found out he was coming]. I was very happy. I was very fortunate.”

Bruce reaffirmed with me that his UM commitment is “very firm,” even though many fans fear the Canes will eventually lose him. Bruce committed about 10 and a half months ago and there are still eight and a half months before his Signing Day.

 

Bruce committed in July of 2014 on the same day that 2015 running back Jordan Scarlett announced his commitment to UM. Scarlett decommitted days before Signing Day and ended up in UF’s class.

Scarlett was at the spring scrimmage, and according to Alejandro Narciso of State of the U, Bruce said Scarlett has been in his ear to get him to flip but Bruce said “It's not gonna work though.”

Bruce was spectacular on the field, to no one’s surprise. He scored a 53-yard touchdown on a screen where he flat-out demoralized some of his teammates on defense with a juke in the open field.

One major beneficiary of all the Aquinas talent has been defending national champion Ohio State. With Hall of Fame receiver and former Buckeye Cris Carter so close to the Raiders, they’re creating a little bit of a pipeline and it doesn’t appear to be stopping any time soon.

OSU already has All-American Joey Bosa on the team and signed cornerback Damon Arnette last Signing Day.

Class of 2016 five-star defensive end Nick Bosa, while he won’t say much on his recruitment publicly, has been linked to Ohio State for obvious reasons – his brother.

In my exclusive interview with him, he says he continues to have a great relationship with OSU coaches but that he plans on taking two summer visits to a pair of in-state schools – Florida and Florida State. He has also told UM he is not interested in the Hurricanes and they have stopped recruiting him.

 

Another five-star, but in the Class of 2017, receiver Trevon Grimes lists Ohio State as his early front runner.

“They’re my leader. Definitely love everything about them,” says Grimes, who had a pair of touchdown receptions. “I love the great coaching staff, the atmosphere, the national champs.”

What makes Grimes so special is that he’s the deadly combination of a big receiver at 6-4 that also possesses the speed to be a deep threat.

Grimes says when he first got the five-star rating so young, he started to feel some pressure, but it brings the best out of him.

“Pressure just makes me stronger, makes me go harder,” Grimes says. “That pressure of the five-star pushed me to a little bit of a higher standard. I feel like I’ve excelled a lot since I earned that five-star.”

The Raiders don’t appear to be missing a beat at running back with Jordan Scarlett moving on to the Swamp. Devonta’e Henry-Cole scored two touchdowns in the scrimmage. He and James Charles will be a deadly tandem.

Cardinal Gibbons quarterback transfer Jake Allen was extremely precise in his passing and finding the bevy of weapons he has at his disposal. The St. Thomas offense will score a lot of points and score in a hurry with Allen running it.

I certainly came away impressed with the Raiders’ pair of highly-recruited 2018 cornerback prospects Benny Sapp and Asante Samuel. Both are very agile and athletic, and it’s clear why so many colleges are on them so early. 

Marco Wilson nearly breaks Twitter with backflip catch

Marco Wilson, 2017 four-star cornerback out of Plantation American Heritage, posted a video on social media of himself making a ridiculous one-handed catch while backflipping.

Wilson currently holds 11 scholarship offers as he heads into his junior year and is the younger brother to current Florida Gator Quincy Wilson.

The Odell Beckham-esque catch had 445 retweets and 440 favorites within two hours of getting posted and sparked a campaign to get it on ESPN's SportsCenter.

May 21, 2015

Greg Simmons lists himself as "medium" UM commit



Greg SimmonsUniversity of Miami 2016 commit and Fort Pierce Central linebacker Greg Simmons was at the Coconut Creek-South Dade spring game on Wednesday night and in an exclusive interview with me listed himself as a “medium” commit.

In the growing world of football recruit commitment levels, Simmons describes a medium commit as between soft and solid, so not as shaky as a soft commit but not as firm as a solid commit.

Another school really making an impression on Simmons, the 6-2, 221-pounder who plays both middle and outside linebacker on top of defensive end for his high school team, is Nebraska.

“Nebraska’s hitting hard. That’s probably one of the hardest that are recruiting me,” Simmons says. “They say my chances of playing early are real. I just take that in consideration. They only have two linebacker commits and they’re both outside, so they want me to join bad.

“When I take all five of my visits, if I like it, I like it. Anything can happen.”

Simmons spoke on what made him want to commit to the Canes in February.

“It was a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” he says. “When you grow older, your mind starts to change, but I still love Miami with all my heart.”

Simmons grew up a “huge” Hurricanes fan, dating back to watching Sean Spence and Graig Cooper when he was younger.

He says he’s being recruited by linebackers coach Hurlie Brown and describes him as “a pops figure to me and a linebacker coach I’d like to play for.”

While Brown is like a father figure to Simmons, he is motivated to excel in football because he wants to do it for his real father. He says his dad could’ve been an NFL talent, but during college, he had to go back home to take care of his mother, who was ill at the time, and cut his career short.

Other schools creeping in for Simmons’ services are Michigan, Maryland, West Virginia and Oklahoma.

Simmons sees himself making a final decision sometime between the end of his senior season and Signing Day 2016.

Cypress Bay's Andrew Parchment commits to Cincinnati

 

Cypress Bay Class of 2016 wide receiver Andrew Parchment announced he was committing to the Cincinnati Bearcats on Wednesday night.

The three-star prospect held an announcement party with about 30 friends and family present at a Chili's in Miramar and then also posted his decision on Twitter.

The announcement came a day after he had decided on a top three of Cincinnati, USF and Syracuse. The latter two have started showing interest recently.

"My commitment is solid with Cincinnati," says the 6-4 Parchment. "If other schools come in, I'll cross that bridge at a later time. As of right now, I'm all Cincy."

Teammate and rising senior cornerback Darrell Malone, who is good friends with Parchment, was close to committing to Cincy along with Parchment Wednesday, but added interest from Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Indiana after Cypress Bay's spring scrimmage Tuesday had him hold off on a decision.

Binjimen Victor, Trayvon Mullen shine as Coconut Creek beats South Dade in Spring Game

Coconut Creek hosted its spring game against South Dade and anyone who’s anyone in college football had a coach at the game.

More than 20 college football programs were represented. A full list of schools I saw watching the action is listed at the bottom of the post.

When a team has a pair of highly-sought-after four-star rising seniors like cornerback Trayvon Mullen and wide receiver Binjimen Victor, you can understand why there were so many followers.

With Victor scoring twice and Mullen scoring another touchdown, the Cougars’ stars shined as Coconut Creek took the exhibition against South Dade 21-14.

Victor was phenomenal in one-on-one situations. It was clear it was going to be difficult for South Dade to cover him from the start, especially with top Bucs recruit James Wiggins, a UM commit, held out of the game.

IMG_1947Victor went to fade routes again and again and it was simply too easy for the 6-4 receiver to go up and get the ball over smaller defenders. Both his touchdowns came in the second half.

Mullen (pictured to the left) was in shutdown corner mode. Whatever receiver he was matched up against didn’t stand a chance of getting open. He’s too quick, long and turns his hips like the elite cover corner he is.

Mullen made a spectacular touchdown catch on the final play of the first half after quarterback Jhakari Harrison threw a backward pass to Malek Young, who then launched it more than 50 yards to a diving Mullen in the end zone.

Young, a Georgia three-star DB commit in the Class of 2016, also had a fumble recovery and was active on defense.

Another rising senior, DB/LB Alexy Jean-Baptiste showed a nose for the ball and tenacity in tackling as did 2017 DB Kobe Green.

2017 defensive end Lashawn Paulino has a very impressive frame to grow into at 6-4 and 220 pounds and certainly looks the part of the prototype end in college. He lists a Temple offer and is sure to add more very soon.

Here’s everything Mullen and Victor were talking about after the game. Both are wide open in their recruitment with offers from essentially every program in the nation.

  

 

While most of the college coaches showed up to see Creek’s stars and Wiggins out for South Dade, they still had to come away impressed with several South Dade prospects, especially when the Bucs built a 14-0 lead in the first half.

Wiggins, who is committed to UM, was held out as a precaution after he clashed knees with a teammate at a recent practice.

Coach Nate Hudson says UM loves “his athleticism – similar to things we want to do – attacking the ball, his IQ of the game. He’s a sponge. He’s an athlete.”

Running back Jawon Hamilton excelled early on when South Dade was building its lead. He scored a touchdown and had a few other long runs, showing a quick burst and ability to accelerate and create separation from a chasing defender.

There’s no question Hamilton was aided by a strong, fundamentally sound offensive line, specifically the right side of it with 2016 tackle Boman Swanson (6-4, 245) and 2017 guard Kyron Taylor (6-1, 275).

Hudson says Swanson’s patience in essentially redshirting two seasons ago has paid major dividends for him in his development. Colleges are noticing, and reports state that Taylor is receiving UM interest.

Darnell Durham, a 2017 wide receiver who only stands at 5-8, made an impressive leaping catching against a Creek defender in the end zone for a South Dade touchdown.

Another pair of rising juniors at DB for the Bucs had interceptions in the end zone in Marquise Parnell and Woobendy Guerrier.

COLLEGES IN ATTENDANCE:

Miami, FSU, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Clemson, Texas, Michigan, Louisville, Maryland, West Virginia, Minnesota, Cincinnati, FAU, Temple, Ohio, Florida A&M, West Florida, Liberty and Prairie View A&M

May 20, 2015

Updates on Jaquwan Nelson, Dallas Jeanty from Fort Lauderdale scrimmage

I got a chance to pass by Fort Lauderdale High on Tuesday to watch the Flying L’s Blue and White Game and was impressed by several of their athletes.

First, 6-4, 225-pound Class of 2016 defensive end Jaquwan Nelson was absolutely dominant in his pass rush and has a solid frame to build upon at the next level.

The three-star UM commit with active hands off the edge demands a double team. One blocker isn’t enough to contain him as a quick and forceful rip move swiftly gets him past linemen. I counted at least three times that he busted through for a “sack” (no contact on the quarterback).

 

Nelson spoke with me about what it meant to him to get that offer from the Hurricanes at UM’s Junior Day and how he reacted.

“It was a dream come true. I always wanted to play for UM as a little kid,” Nelson said. “My heart was pumping. My reaction was outrageous. I didn’t know what to do.”

Nelson lists himself as a “very solid” commit but is keeping his options open. He put his commitment status at 90 percent.

Nelson (pictured in three-point stance below) says the other schools that make up the remaining 10 percent would be Florida State, Notre Dame and Oregon State. Of those, Oregon State has offered while he says he’s heard from the other two but they are not showing too much interest.



Jaquwan NelsonDallas Jeanty, a three-star 6-1, 220-pound linebacker is urging to get a Hurricanes offer and join Nelson in the Canes’ 2016 class, as well as several other close friends in the class.

“I’m the biggest Miami fan on the planet. I’ve wanted a Miami offer forever,” says Jeanty, who currently lists 34 other offers.

He says if he got the UM offer, he would “definitely commit on the spot.”

As for now, Jeanty (pictured behind Nelson to the left) says Oregon State is his leader followed by Cincinnati and Army.

With a 3.9 GPA and a 1260 on the SAT (reading and math), he has been offered by all eight Ivy League schools. He wants a competitive school both in academics and in football, so that’s another reason why the Miami offer is so important to him. He’s also hopeful for a Notre Dame and USC offer.

Another solid-looking linebacker for Fort Lauderdale who is not getting the recruiting attention is 5-11, 210-pound 2017 prospect Darryl Weaver.

Weaver showed tremendous instincts getting to the ball and hits hard with good form when he tackles. He also had a fumble recovery in the scrimmage.

Kevin Thomas, a defensive back who was playing some outside linebacker on Tuesday, scooped up a fumble recovery for a touchdown on a backward pass.

Cornerback Duwan Smith is very good in coverage and reacts well with quick hips.

USF, Minnesota, Akron and Navy all had coaches at Fort Lauderdale's spring scrimmage.

May 19, 2015

Lichtenstein: "I'd probably commit" if offered by Canes; Parchment names top three

There's a lot of recruiting activity brewing out of Cypress Bay as spring comes to its conclusion for the Lightning.

All you had to do was look at how many colleges were represented at Cypress Bay’s spring game on Tuesday to identify how much interest there is in the Lightning’s prospects.

Georgia Tech, Duke, USF, Illinois, Indiana, Cincinnati, Syracuse and Bowling Green all had coaches in Weston on Tuesday.

Jake Lichtenstein (6-5, 235 pounds), a Class of 2017 defensive end, is a hot prospect due to his obvious size, motor and long arms.

Lichtenstein lists a recent offer from Louisville as his first but has also drawn significant interest from the hometown Miami Hurricanes and he says he is a big fan of the U.

How would he react if UM offered him?

“I’d probably commit,” says Lichtenstein, who is also being recruited by Auburn, Virginia and UCF. “I’ve always liked UM – hometown team, family can show up to watch. That’s a dream.”

 

Cypress Bay coach Mark Guandolo has been impressed with Lichtenstein – and not just for his play on the gridiron.

“He’s put on a lot of weight in the offseason program, he’s got a 4.5 GPA, he’s an all-around great kid,” Guandolo says.

Andrew Parchment, a three-star 2016 wide receiver, has announced a top three of Cincinnati, USF and Syracuse – in that order. Immediately after the scrimmage, he had a different third team, but after being contacted by Syracuse later Tuesday, the Orange are gaining momentum in his recruiting picture.

“Cincinnati, right now, has to be my No. 1 offensive-wise and because they have a bunch of South Florida guys,” says Parchment, whose name on Twitter is OchoCinco and his cover photo is one of Chad Johnson (or Ochocinco) in a Cincinnati Bengals uniform.

For now, Parchment tentatively says he will announce a commitment on Twitter at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

At the scrimmage, his size at 6-4 was evident and he also displayed a keen sense of route-running and sharp change of direction. He stopped on a dime in the end zone on a comeback route to catch a touchdown at the pylon.

Parchment and 2016 cornerback Darrell Malone are close friends, both have offers from Cincinnati and could see themselves playing together at the next level.

“That’s one of my best friends on the team, so me and him have been talking about it for a little bit,” Parchment says.

Malone, also a three-star at 5-11, 165, was a shutdown corner on defense and also got in offensively to show his burst and run in a touchdown on a sweep.

He had thoughts of announcing a commitment on Wednesday but interest from Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Indiana after the scrimmage has him holding off for the time being.

“They’re great players, good team guys, hard workers, very talented, very tough competitors,” Guandolo says. “They’re going to be ready to play early.”

--Middle linebacker Robert Pitter was an “animal” tackling, as Guandolo put it. Pitter, the Lightning’s leading tackler, is undersized at 5-9, but he more than makes up for it with how strong he plays and how he knifes through the line to make tackles for loss. Guandolo compared him to former Cypress Bay linebacker Nico Marley, who is now at Tulane.

--Rising junior FB/DB Danny Montoya was a workhorse back in the scrimmage and reeled off some impressive runs. He’s receiving interest from Ivy League and Patriot League schools.

--Guandolo also praised rising senior R.J. Rosario at safety and his defensive line, namely Nesta Silvera, a 2018 nose guard that’s already 6-2, 285, and starting end Nicolas Wucher.

May 18, 2015

Deerfield Beach safety James Pierre commits to UM

James Pierre, a three-star defensive back out of Deerfield Beach, orally committed to UM Monday evening after receiving an offer earlier Monday.

The 6-1, 175-pound safety becomes the 21st commitment of the Canes’ 2016 recruiting class and sixth defensive back, joining Tyler Byrd (Naples), Devin Gil (Pembroke Pines Flanagan), Deion Jackson (Hallandale), James Wiggins (Homestead South Dade) and Cedrick Wright (Miami Gulliver).

UM will have safeties Deon Bush and Dallas Crawford go into their senior seasons in the fall while juniors Jamal Carter and Rayshawn Jenkins have two years of eligibility remaining.

The Canes had four freshman defensive backs – safety Robert Knowles and cornerbacks Sheldrick Redwine, Michael Jackson and Terrance Henley – enroll on Sunday while safety Jaquan Johnson enrolled in the spring.

Pierre, the nation’s 27th-ranked safety according to Rivals, had other notable offers from Wisconsin, West Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Syracuse, Cincinnati and FIU.

 

May 17, 2015

#WelcomeToTheTeam: UM welcomes members of 2015 class

It's a day that every college football player will forever cherish and remember -- their first with their program of choice.

UM welcomed 13 members of its 2015 recruiting class and one walk-on Sunday as they get set to begin the Summer A session at UM on Monday.

The newcomers join five other members of the class that enrolled early and arrived at UM for the spring semester. Those were safety Jaquan Johnson, defensive end Scott Patchan, linebacker Charles Perry, tight end Jerome Washington and lineman Jahair Jones.

Running back Mark Walton, expected to break into the backfield rotation as a freshman and eventually become the feature back of the offense, walking into the Schwartz Center in the morning.

 

Some of the larger newcomers -- offensive linemen Brendan Loftus (Tallahassee Godby), Hayden Mahoney (Malvern Prep in Pennsylvania), Tyler Gauthier (Venice), Tyree St. Louis (IMG Academy) and defensive tackle Ryan Fines (IMG) -- are seen in this short video:

Not included is offensive tackle Bar Milo, a teammate of starting quarterback Brad Kaaya in high school at West Hills (Cal.) Chaminade. He arrived later Sunday night.

Robert Knowles, the safety out of Edison, takes the cake as the incoming freshman with the best hair.

 

Knowles' teammates in the secondary but at corner, Sheldrick Redwine and Michael Jackson pictured here.

Sheldrick Redwine

Michael Jackson

The incoming freshmen got together with returning players, shaking hands and formally meeting their new teammates.

Here are the numbers the newcomers will wear:

4 - Mark Walton

20 - Robert Knowles

21 - Terrance Henley

22 - Sheldrick Redwine

28 - Michael Jackson

37 - James King

62 - Hayden Mahoney

74 - Tyler Gauthier

75 - Brendan Loftus

78 - Tyree St. Louis

79 - Bar Milo

80 - Richard McIntosh

94 - Ryan Fines

*UM also added linebacker John Tauber (48), a teammate of St. Louis, Patchan and Fines at IMG who will walk on to the team.

For a full album of all the new arrivals by HurricaneSports.com, click here.

May 16, 2015

Prospects give Valdes solid foundation as he takes over at Coral Reef

It’s clear that coach Javier Valdes is the right man for the job at Coral Reef.

With two years of head coaching experience building Mater Academy’s program to the point of its first playoff appearance last season, Valdes takes over at Coral Reef, a program that has seen success in recent years but then fell on tough times with a 2-8 season in 2014.

A new coach, a new district (15-8A) and solid prospects in a talent-rich neighborhood in the south has football at the Reef back on the rise.

“The guys have already taken into the culture and the mentality that we’re trying to build and are working really hard,” Valdes says. “I feel like there’s a lot of talent here that was untapped, and I think if you give them the system, they buy in and they work their tail off, they start building championship habits. Good things are going to follow.”

--Harvey Clayton Jr., a 2016 athlete who already lists offers from Louisville, Temple and Alcorn State, tops the senior class for the Barracudas.

 

At 6-2, 185 pounds, he already has ideal size and ball skills to translate to a cornerback that could match up with possession receivers at the next level.

Offensively, he lines up at wide receiver and can go up and get a ball over a defender in single coverage – like he did at one point in the end zone in Saturday’s scrimmage.

“We’re expecting a lot of big things from him – not only as a leader on the field – but as a playmaker,” Valdes says. “I think Harvey gives us an X-factor any time we line up on Friday nights.”

N.C. State, Miami and Cincinnati have also shown interest recently.

--2017 linebacker/safety Colvin Alford received his first offer from Temple on Tuesday and has received interest from the likes of Nebraska, Florida, Miami, USF, N.C. State, FIU and FAU.

After watching him, it’s obvious why so many schools like him as he heads into the summer between his sophomore and junior years. At 6-0 and close to 200 pounds, Alford presents Coral Reef with versatility on defense both at linebacker and safety. He had an impressive interception on a poorly thrown ball at the scrimmage.

 

“Dynamic playmaker, he’s got a physical presence but he’s athletic enough to cover at safety or outside backer,” Valdes says. “He makes plays in the box, he makes plays all over the field. Eventually he’ll be making plays with the ball in his hands.

Alford lists Nebraska as an early front-runner once he gets an offer from the Corn Huskers.

--Brian Castro, a 2016 leader on the offensive line at 6-2, 250 was a beast on Saturday.

“Real smart football player and student,” Valdes says. “He plays physical and is the leader of the offensive line, brings the nastiness and is going to help our power run game.”

--Randy Shannon Jr. was out on the field playing middle linebacker and wearing his father’s old No. 22 that Randy Shannon wore as a Hurricane.

With his father now the defensive coordinator with the Florida Gators, one might assume he may end up at UF – if not through scholarship, as a preferred walk-on – but Valdes says the scholar athlete who brings “a calming presence” to the defense will likely go a separate route.

“They don’t want to play for each other; they’re going to make it their own way,” he says – a notion that Shannon Jr. himself confirmed to me.

Shannon Jr., a 6-0, 215-pound 2016 prospect, has seen interest from FIU, FAU, Buffalo, Georgetown, Cornell, Colgate and Fordham.

--Coral Reef has a slew of talented 2018 prospects that its new coaching staff can surely build upon. There’s quite a few to list, but two that really stood out to me were running back Jordon Donaldson and lineman Jaylaan Williams.

Donaldson possesses the vision, burst and ability to make sharp, quick cuts. Williams is an absolute monster at 6-3 and weighs between 280 and 290 as he wraps up his freshman year; he was seen lining up at left tackle.

--2016 RB Mehki Ervan runs with a low center of gravity at 5-7 and can run a defender over if he doesn’t meet him with proper technique. He also has great footwork.

Coral Reef will hold its spring game on Wednesday against Edison at Harris Field.

May 15, 2015

Talented crop of Miramar Patriots flourishing this spring

Miramar held its spring classic on Friday afternoon, and by watching the kids play and the coaches conduct the scrimmage, you couldn’t tell this is the same team that had to forfeit its playoff game last season due to sanctions by the FHSAA for an academic scandal.

Former Booker T. Washington defensive line coach Pierre Senatus has taken over as head coach, cleaned up the program, brought his winning mentality to a program that has seen plenty of winning and the scandal is behind the Patriots.

I’ll have more on how Miramar has moved on from that in the coming week, but first let’s focus on some of the athletes that stood out, some of which have had to wait their turns to finally blossom because of the players they've been behind on the depth chart in past years.

--I was very impressed with 2017 safety Brian Edwards, who already looks like a college safety on the field. He showed great range in his pursuit, going from sideline to sideline.

Syracuse was impressed too. With a coach at the scrimmage, the Orange offered him Friday. Edwards added to an offer sheet that includes UM, Clemson, Cincinnati and interest from South Carolina and Alabama among others.

--A pair of 2016 Patriots were offered by Coastal Carolina on Thursday in defensive end Terrell Lucas and offensive lineman Obinna Nwankwo.

Lucas is already 6-2, 231 and has a tremendous motor off the edge. Nwankwo is 280 pounds and paves a hole with force when a runner gets behind him.

--Miramar’s projected starter at quarterback, senior University School transfer D’Angelo Fulford, looked smooth with his delivery, flashed a gifted arm, showed some escape ability and stood even taller than his impressive 6-1 frame in the pocket.

All he needs to do is continue to learn the Patriot’s tempo offense and put the right touch on his deep ball to connect with his speedy receivers.

--Fulford connected with 6-4 senior receiver Kyle Anthony for two touchdowns at the scrimmage. Anthony displayed tremendous rapport with Fulford, ability to go up and use his body to get the ball as a possession receiver, and Senatus said he also has developed chemistry with Caleb Thomas when he is at quarterback.

Anthony picked up three offers at the FIU scrimmages last weekend – Colgate, Florida A&M and Alcorn State –  and is getting looked at by “all the HBCUs and all the Ivy League schools,” according to Senatus, but one would imagine his recruitment will explode in not time with his size and skill set. Anthony has a 5.0 grade-point average to go with all his tools on the field.

“His skill set, his speed, he has that tremendous ball radius, phenomenal burst, great route-running, great ball recognition,” Senatus says. “We feel we have one of the top receivers in the state of Florida right now.”

--Senatus calls 2016 cornerback Korel Smith “the honeybadger.” At the scrimmage, he presented his ball skills with an acrobatic interception in the end zone in single coverage.

--Senatus added that the cornerback combination of Smith and 2016 recruit Shemar Jean-Charles is one of the top tandems in the Southeast United States.

--Linebacker Deshondre Pitts is a beast at linebacker, shedding off blocks in the box and ripping through the line for tackles for loss. Pitts is also a captain on defense and earns the praise of both Senatus and defensive coordinator A.J. Scott.

“He has some of the highest football IQ that you’ll see in the United States. He is a coach on the field. He’s our field general,” Senatus said. “The intensity and the tenacity that you’ll see him bring on the field is some of the best that you’ll see in the country.”

*Pitts is driving the Miramar equipment crew crazy, breaking his own facemask and the facemask of a teammate running back all in the past week.

Canes get 2018 commitment from Jalen Patterson

The Miami Hurricanes learned Friday that they picked up their fourth commitment in the Class of 2018 and it comes from Citra North Marion athlete Jalen Patterson.

Just a freshman last season, Patterson, who plays both sides of the ball but projects as a defensive back, already looks the part of an elite recruit on film with his blazing speed and pursuit of the ball.

"Two words: Big time," said North Marion coach Stephen Field, former head coach at Miami Northwestern. "Just an all-around athlete with great instincts, and he's physical."

Added Patterson on his game, "I like to hit." He's been told by coaches they like his speed and athleticism.

Patterson got the offer on Thursday and on Friday decided to join a class that consists of two other DB commits in University School's Al Blades Jr. and Thomas Burns from Northwestern, who is the brother of current Cane Artie Burns.

In an interview with Rivals, Patterson said, "I wanted to commit right away when they offered."

With his Signing Day so far in the future (Feb. 2018), he added "it's going to be hard" for another school to catch UM by then.

He told me: "I like their defense, especially their defensive backs."

He has other early offers from Oregon State, West Virginia and Mississippi State and says Alabama is about to offer.

May 14, 2015

Amir Rasul headlines strong senior class for Coral Gables

After Shaquery Wilson took his talents to Georgia and several other talented defensive prospects moved on, Coral Gables is looking strong with its senior class once again.

At the top of the list is running back Amir Rasul, who at 6-0, 192 pounds is a four-star recruit on most sites.

Rasul committed to UM in January and had his recruitment blow up since, gathering more than 20 offers from all over the country. Even USC has come all the way to the East Coast to visit Coral Gables and check on Rasul.

“He’s offered from coast to coast,” Coral Gables coach Roger Pollard said. “Every school in the nation has recognized his talent.”

With all the options that have opened up for Rasul, who is also an elite track talent and is spending the spring away from the football team running track, his commitment to the Canes should be considered a soft one. When asked, Pollard could not confirm how firm Rasul’s commitment is currently but said he will sit down with him when he rejoins the team in June.

While college coaches love Rasul’s track speed, they love even more that he runs like a football player with that speed.

 

Amir Rasul after a 195-yard, 4-TD performance against Coral Park last season. DAVID FURONES

“He doesn’t run like a track guy. He runs like a really fast running back, and I think that’s why so many people are really in love with him and what he can do for their program,” Pollard says. “People want home run hitters, and with the type of speed he possesses, he’s a home run hitter.”

Coral Gables’ trio of senior linebackers in Shakur Cooper, Gee Stanley and Robert Brown is one that will spearhead the Cavaliers’ defense and pick up some steam in the players’ recruitment in the fall.

Cooper, at 6-1, 210 pounds, is a four-year starter in Pollard’s defense. He was second-team all-state last season and recently received an offer from FAMU to add to a list that includes Appalachian State and Alcorn State.

“If he was 6-2, he’d be recruited by every school in the nation because his ability to rush the passer – you can ask anybody that’s played against us – he’s got a special knack, a lot of unteachable skill,” Pollard says. “Once that ball moves an inch, he moves two feet.”

Pollard plans on using Cooper, who goes by the nickname of “Pooh Bear,” all over the field his senior season and not restrict him to just outside linebacker.

Stanley (6-2, 200) has started since he was a sophomore and is a sideline-to-sideline outside linebacker who has also seen time at strong safety and lists offers from Alcorn State and Robert Morris since receiving an offer from Temple in the fall.

“He’s really quick in the box, quick with his feet and really knowledgeable in what offenses are trying to do against us,” Pollard says.

Brown (6-1, 195) is a South Miami transfer that Pollard describes as an “effort linebacker.”

“He’s going to run, he’s going to take you down,” Pollard says. “Wherever the ball is, he’s going to do whatever he can to get there.”

Alcorn State and Bryant University have offered Brown, but he’s also receiving interest from FIU and New Mexico.

“I don’t think there will be another linebacking corps with this talent. Usually you’ll have one stud, but with these three, pick your poison,” Pollard says. “If you block one, where’s the other?”

Quarterback Voshon Waiters currently lists one offer (FAMU), but Pollard expects his recruitment to heat up over the summer and in the fall once the season starts.

“I think with the numbers he’s going to put up this year, people are going to hit the brakes when they come by Coral Gables, and it’s not just for Amir Rasul,” Pollard says.

Pollard wants to take him to camps at FIU and FAU because he feels with how meticulously quarterbacks are recruited and offered college coaches need to see him in person.

He says Waiters has solid size at 6-1 to see over the line and runs the Cavaliers’ spread offense, which is very popular in college, to perfection for his unit.

May 12, 2015

Redwine ready to report to the U

**ALSO MAKE SURE TO CHECK SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN'S STORY FEATURING SHELDRICK REDWINE**

I had a chance to catch up with Sheldrick Redwine, the 6-1, 193-pound cornerback coming out of Miami Killian that will be enrolling at UM – which he has previously called his “dream school” – for the start of the Summer A session on Monday and moving in to campus on Sunday.

The offseason has not slowed Redwine down. He’s still working as if it’s South Dade week for the Killian Cougars.

“I’ve been doing two-a-days with my teammates,” says Redwine, the physical corner who also possesses the quickness of the feet and hips to keep up with speedy receivers. “We go to a gym, we get worked out by a trainer. Then we go [back home], eat and do field workouts. Then after that we’ll do lighter drills.”

From the K to the U

FROM THE K TO THE U: Sheldrick Redwine and Jaquan Johnson on Signing Day. DAVID FURONES

With high school teammate Jaquan Johnson already at UM since the spring, Redwine says he’s also been in contact with another pair of Dade County defensive backs – senior Deon Bush (Columbus) and junior Artie Burns (Northwestern).

“They’re just telling me how it is and what to expect from the DBs. Just to come in confident,” Redwine says. “[Johnson] says he likes it, he’s coming along. He’s learning the playbook and the game speed is starting to slow down for him.”

Redwine is coming in with the mindset that he wants to take his time learning during the summer but then seriously compete for playing time in the fall.

With UM’s deep, talented and experienced secondary, however, a redshirt could be a possibility.

Redwine says if that happens “I’ll just take it in stride, just practice hard every day, try to get better and earn my spot.”

Redwine was a Louisville commit very late in the recruiting process before announcing he was headed to Coral Gables instead with a Signing Day hat trick.

 

He let Louisville know what his move would be the day before.

“They were cool with it,” Redwine says of Louisville’s response.

Cane coaches’ reaction?

“They reacted great. They said they couldn’t wait. They were happy they could get me to flip.”

The dynamic Redwine finished his senior season with five interceptions — two returned for touchdowns — three forced fumbles, 33 tackles and four blocked kicks.