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35 posts from January 2010

January 25, 2010

Steven Clarke headed to Vanderbilt

He was a member of one of the top defensive secondaries in the state, and over the weekend, Steven Clarke joined Boyd Anderson teammates Demar Drosey (Florida) and Cliff Coleman (Ole Miss) as Division 1 players.

The gifted 5-10, 175-pounder, who was being recruited by Connecticut, Maryland, Western Michigan and Miami, made his decision.

"I am going to Vanderbilt," Clarke said. "Great fit for me and I have a chance to come right in and make an impact."

The school, city and the chance to play in the Southeastern Conference were all instrumental in the decision making process for a player who had two interceptions in the Nike Miami-Dade/Broward All-Star Game after turning in a tremendous season for the Cobras during a playoff year.

"Obviously Nashville is a great place," Clarke said. "But when you hear things like 92 percent graduation rate and having the opportunity to play for a growing program in the best conference in America, you really have to jump at the chance."

St. Thomas Aquinas has a number of No. 1s to boast about. Being the best team in the nation in 2009, having the premier kicking prospect in Tennessee-bound Michael Palardy and the top-rated cornerback in Lamarcus Joyner. The Raiders also have the No. 1 long snapper in America, and Danny Adams (5-10, 190) was rewarded by accepting a scholarship to attend Eastern Kentucky University.

Adams is just one of a few of the Raiders who have already announced their college plans.

Catch up on all our stories, rankings, commitments and all other archived information by clicking on Miami Herald Recruiting Information:


Countdown to National Signing Day

There is no one source in the state that keeps track of every state of Florida commitment like the Miami Herald. From Division 1 prospects all the way to Junior College, we continue to shine the spotlight on all the athletes who are moving on.

With your help, we want to continue to track all these commitments as they sign with colleges and universities across the country.

The Herald will host a day-long BLOG on National Signing Day, Wednesday, Feb. 3, for you to keep us updated with player signings as well as comment on those who are making that most important decision.

If there are nay additions or subtractions to our impressive list, please let us know. Just e-mail Larry Blustein at LBlustein@miamiherald.com.


January 20, 2010

Varela's Bryan Maura to Kansas

If you asked Brian Maura how he wound up committing to Kansas University, you better pull up a chair for quite an interesting story.

But no matter how this 6-3, 190-pound receiver from Varela wound up committing to first year head coach Turner Gil and the Jayhawks.

“It’s a long, long story, but I am so happy to have the chance to play football for a great coaching staff and a tremendous school,” Maura said. “This is definitely a dream come true.”

It all began as a youth football player at West Pembroke Pines. It then shifted to Flanagan High for 9th and 10th grade. His family moved to Miramar at the end of his 10th grade year and attended Miramar High. His mother then married and moved to Southwest Miami, and he enrolled at Varela.

In two seasons with the Vipers, Maura showcased his speed, ability to catch balls and prove that he was indeed one of the promising players in talented Miami-Dade County.

While he didn’t receive the publicity he deserved, Maura did turn some heads with the coaching staff at Buffalo University. That staff, which is headed up by the former Nebraska Cornhusker quarterback, Gil, then kept recruiting Maura when they went to Kansas.

“Brian is a very good football player,” said Varela head coach Matt Dixon. “We are fortunate to have someone like him who has now opened the door at this school. We have two other prospects in this class and several 10th and 11th graders.”

Mauro knows that he is sure about his decision. After all, his visit in early December to Buffalo was cold and it snowed. The same thing greeted him in Lawrence when he recently went to Kansas!

Catch up on all our stories, rankings, commitments and all other archived information by clicking on Miami Herald Recruiting Information:


College Football All-Star Challenge

MIAMI – FIU will be the host of the 12th annual Mercedes Benz College Football All-Star Challenge taped on location at FIU football stadium on Monday, February 1 from 1:00-3:30 p.m. This prestigious event has featured NFL stars such as Drew Brees, Donovan McNabb, Matt Ryan, Reggie Wayne, DeAngelo Williams, Edgerrin James and scores of others. The event will be aired by ESPN on February 5 at 9:00-11:00 p.m. as part of its Super Bowl XLIV coverage in Miami.

“Part of the vision when we built this stadium was to have events such as this,” said FIU Athletic Director Pete Garcia. “We’ve always said FIU stadium is a multi-purpose stadium and we look forward to having more events like this in the near future.”

Nationally televised by ESPN, the skills and drills competition will feature 12 of the finest college football players in the country and future NFL superstars. Confirmed to participate are quarterbacks Tony Pike from Cincinnati, Dan Lefevour from Central Michigan, wide receivers Jordan Shipley from Texas, Mardy Gilyard from Cincinnati, Dez Bryant from Oklahoma State as well as kickers Brett Swensen from Michigan State and St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Hunter Lawrence from Texas and Josh Shene from Mississippi.

“Intersport again is excited to be teaming up with ESPN and our new title sponsor Mercedes Benz for the 12th annual Mercedes Benz College Football All-Star Challenge,” said Intersport Inc. Senior Account Executive Joseph Salituro. “We expect to have the best of the best that college football has to offer and look forward to giving the fans an exciting day of football.”

ESPN announcers Todd McShay, Craig James and former Heisman trophy winner and South Florida resident Desmond Howard will be on hand to call all of the action. Gate 4 and concessions will open at noon and the event is free and open to the public.

January 19, 2010

Vinnie Mauro off to the Naval Academy

For the past three years, he has played at a high level and has been recognized as one of the top linebackers in the state of Florida. On Monday, Vinnie Mauro made a life decision. One that will pave the way on and off the playing field for years to come.

"I am going to the U.S. Naval Academy," the 6-2, 215-pounder said after choosing the Midshipmen over the University of Wisconsin. "It was all about looking out for my future beyond football as well."

As someone who had been leaning toward the Naval Academy since the recruiting process began, Mauro heads off to a program that has established itself as one of the top football teams in the nation, owning wins over Notre Dame and Missouri and taking Rose Bowl champion Ohio State down to the wire.

At St. Thomas Aquinas, Mauro helped the Raiders win two state titles and one national crown. It was his play this year against Byrnes, S.C. on national television that gave the country a glimpse of how impressive he was on the football field.

"If you watched that Byrnes game or any other big game St. Thomas played in, Vinnie was the one making all the huge plays," said Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services. "He is a quick, strong playmaker who will be a major force at any school he chose."

In addition to being a standout on the football field, Mauro is also an exceptional baseball players, hitting over .300 and coming up with nine homeruns last spring for the Raiders. He is expected to compete for Navy's baseball team as well.

"This is a great opportunity for me," Mauro said. "This is really as chance of a lifetime to be a part of the Naval Academy, receiving an outstanding education and compete in two sports. There is really nothing else I could ask for."

The decision to choose Navy over Wisconsin was tough. He had watched the Badgers play against the University of Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando and was impressed.

"Wisconsin has a great team and the coaches are first class all the way," he said. "It was a tough decision to make."

Mauro's teammates Brian Robinson and Matt Stokes also committed on Monday as well.

Robinson (6-0, 180), a talented defensive back, will join the improving Marshall Thundering Herd, and Stokes, a 6-3, 245-pound defensive lineman, will head off to play at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

Catch up on all our stories, rankings, commitments and all other archived information by clicking on Miami Herald Recruiting Information:


January 18, 2010

Bass and Lynn close to making a decision

Winning a 6A state title is starting to pay off for a number of Miramar High football players.

Over the weekend, linebacker Jamaal Bass, who is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the state title game against DeLand, and safety Keondrick Lyn went to Northern Illinois University for a visit. While both liked the visit, both players insist that the verbal commitment made is not the end of the process.

“They both liked the trip and the coaching staff, but both will still explore everything before making that final decision on Feb. 3,” head coach Damon Cogdell said.

Bass, who had been recruited by schools such as FIU, Mississippi and West Virginia, was regarded as one of the top prospects in the state over the past three years. He is recovering nicely from his injury.

Lyn, who made the most out of his senior year, is also being looked at by several schools. The 6-2, 200-pound safety played in the Nike Miami-Dade/Broward game last Friday night and turned quite a few heads with his size and speed.

“The visit to Northern Illinois was great, and while we both committed, it isn’t the end of the process,” Lyn said. “There are several schools that are still showing interest.”

While verbal commitments are not binding, many schools use them as a measuring stick to see what they have to sign over the next month. Like many schools across the country, Northern Illinois wants their recruits to be comfortable with the decision, and with Bass and Lyn, exploring other options is something every athlete in the nation does.

Catch up on all our stories, rankings, commitments and all other archived information by clicking on Miami Herald Recruiting Information:


Dareyon Chance will head to W. Michigan

From the first time he carried the ball as a youngster for the Lauderhill Lions youth football program, Dareyon Chance was destined to be a star.

On Monday, after visiting Western Michigan University, the 5-6, 180-pound Cardinal Gibbons running back made his decision.

"This is a program that is moving in a positive direction," Chance said. "They have a number of Floridians on the roster, which said to me that they want to continue bringing in speed and athletes. I think it's a great fit for me."

Recruited by a number of schools, Chance narrowed down his choices, and when he picked the Broncos, it came down to playing time and an opportunity to make a contribution.

"Dareyon has been a true blessing for this program over the past four years," said head coach Mike Morrill. "He came into this school and got better every year."

Although he was injured during his senior season, Chance managed to lead the Chiefs into the playoffs and was chosen for two post season all-star games. Just last Friday night, he helped to lead the Broward team to a 29-20 win over Miami-Dade. In December, he competed in the BCAA All-Star event.

While he had a number of quality games, one of the highlights of his impressive career came during his junior season when he ran for over 200 yards in a regular season meeting against powerhouse Glades Central. It was in that game that he caught the attention of Raiders' head coach Jessie Hester, who called him "one of the top backs his team faced all year."

Chance, who was also looking at Toledo, Central Michigan and FAU, will join teammate Garrett Smith and Dillard linebacker Desmond Bozeman, who committed to Western Michigan as well.

"I grew up with both Garrett and Desmond and have played with Garrett in high school the past four years, so this is a perfect situation for me," Chance said.

Catch up on all our stories, rankings, commitments and all other archived information by clicking on Miami Herald Recruiting Information:


January 17, 2010

Christian Henry commits to Middle Tennessee St.

According to Hollywood Hills linebacker Christian Henry, colleges across the country can learn a thing or two about the recruiting process from Middle Tennessee State University.

On Sunday, after visiting the school, Henry came back to South Florida with such a positive feeling, he called and told the coaching staff that he would be attending the school. He was sold on the entire process.

“From the time they offered me last summer, there was no doubt that this was the school that was where I wanted to go,” said the 6-1, 215-pounder. “They did everything the right way.”

With so many schools trying to lure athletes from across the nation, sometimes the personal touch gets lost. That wasn’t what Middle Tennessee State did with Henry. They made sure that they made this impressive talent a priority.

“Every week during the season, instead of a form e-mail or something they sent to everyone else, this school and the coaches took time to personally address me,” Henry said. “That was something that really won me over. They wanted to make sure that I understood how valuable I was to them.”

Henry has been one of the top defensive prospects in Broward County over the past two years, and this weekend, while visiting Murfreesboro with South Plantation defensive back Khari Burke, he found out just how much this school wanted him to be in this class.

With programs such as FIU, UMass, UConn, Fordham and others keeping an eye on his progress, Henry’s decision is now behind him.

“Christian has been the heart and soul of our program for the past two years,” said head coach Scott Barnwell. “While several colleges have overlooked him during the recruiting season, Middle Tennessee State was there, believing that he was one of the best in Broward County. They are right!”

Catch up on all our stories, rankings, commitments and all other archived information by clicking on Miami Herald Recruiting Information:


Chris Rapka heads to Columbia

Last weekend, Chris Rapka had the opportunity to visit Columbia University for the second time. There will be no need to make a third visit to New York City.

On Sunday, the 6-4, 200-pound quarterback from Cardinal Gibbons made his decision, and this Ivy League school will certainly benefit.

“I had the chance to come here during the summer and wanted to see what it would be like when the winter arrived,” said Rapka. “The school, the city, the alumni, the prestige and an opportunity to play football and receive a quality education. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

While Rapka had an opportunity to start for just one season at the varsity level, one of Broward’s top passers never once complained about his role the past two years. He realized that when his opportunity came, this season, he would make the most from it.

“I cannot say enough about Chris as a student/athlete,” Cardinal Gibbons offensive coordinator Matt DuBuc pointed out. “He took over the job this year, led us to the playoffs, played in the Broward All-Star game and was among the best in a very talented county.”

While programs such as Bryant College, Princeton, Dartmouth, Penn and Holy Cross were in the mix, the chance to head to Columbia was too hard to pass up.

Rapka joins Cypress Bay freshman linebacker Joe Nathan on the Lions’ roster.

Catch up on all our stories, rankings, commitments and all other archived information by clicking on Miami Herald Recruiting Information:


January 16, 2010

Brandon Doughty chooses FAU

He had started his career at Chaminade-Madonna, watching the Lions run the Wing-T offensive, which was not a great fit. As a junior, Brandon Doughty made his move to North Broward Prep, where former Miami Dolphin Jeff Dellenbach built the offense around him. On Friday, the 6-3, 195-pound quarterback made a major decision.

With a number of colleges keeping an eye on his progress over the past two years, the school that showed the most interest from the start, FAU, came away with Doughty’s commitment.

“There were a number of schools I had kept in touch with over the past two years, but FAU was the one school that never stopped calling or watching me ,” said Doughty, who threw for over 4,000 yards the past two season, leading his team to the playoffs. “Being close to home and playing a challenging schedule were among the reasons I chose the school.”

FAU’s success with passers such as Rusty Smith was also a major factor in Doughty staying close to home.

While he was projected by many to be the quarterback of the future at Chaminade-Madonna, the offense was not what he was most comfortable with, and while many never saw what kind of quarterback he could be, Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services had watched Doughty on the sideline for two years.

“I remember seeing him at Chaminade as a freshman and watching him throw the ball,” Fishbein recalled. “His arm strength was tremendous, and knowing the kind of offense Chaminade was running, it just was not something that would elevate him.”

Schools such as Mississippi State and Texas Tech were early possibilities, but FAU’s style of offense won out in the end.

Catch up on all our stories, rankings, commitments and all other archived information by clicking on Miami Herald Recruiting Information: