TAMPA - Two years ago, as a receiver/quarterback prospect at Boyd Anderson High, Gheirry van der Kuyp made quite an impression with coaches and players.
While he was on the radar screen for the past two years with those who watched and appreciated his skills, it wasn't until this past weekend when the rest of the state had the chance to see what Hialeah head coach Marc Berman and his staff had been boasting about the past year.
Coming up with play after play, this athletic 2012 prospect led his surprising South Florida Football Fire team to a surprising 28-21 win over the defending national champion South Florida Express at the BadgerSport 7on7 tournament at the University of South Florida.
As he heads toward the spring, the name van der Kuyp is no longer one that is hidden behind so many impressive prospects in Florida. A full year after coming south from Broward County, this 6-1, 190-pounder is now one of the many quality athletes who all will now follow.
"The crazy thing about Gheirry is very few people had even paid attention to him over the past two years," said Football Fire defensive coach Travis Johnson, who helped put together the team with many players who were cut from the Express. "This is a young man who has been this talented since youth football. Because he didn't have a defined position, it was tough for people to get a grasp on his abilities."
While van der Kuyp was certainly the story of the weekend, where some 15 quality teams competed for the title that sends the top four squads, including the Express, Team Tampa and Ocala to Los Angeles in July to compete for the national championship, there were so many others who really turned heads.
With ESPN, Sports Illustrated and every media outlet across the state on hand for the weekend event, it was about showcasing quality football talent such as Vanderkup, Kent Taylor (Land O Lakes), Sean Price (Citra North Marion) and Ahmad Fulwood (Jacksonville Bishop Kenny, a 2013 prospect, who played for the Football Fire team.
Other players who turned heads included Jordan Diggs (Fort Myers Bishop Verot), T.J. Jiles (Cape Coral), James Brooks (Groveland South Lake), Chris Bivens (Gainesville) and Blanche Ely defensive back Adrian Burton.
As players performer, the media and recruiting services were there every step of the way, shining the spotlight on some of the impressive athletes who took part in he two-day tournament.
Some of the other Class of 2012 players who really made a lasting impression this past weekend included safety Lucas Thompson (Winter Garden West Orange), defensive end Stanley Slyverian (Naples Golden Gate), Tampa Wharton defensive back Vernon Hargreaves, Jr., the son of former University of Miami and current USF coach Vernon Sr. and Palmetto linebacker Daqual Randall.
Additional 2012 players who made an impression included Lehigh defensive back Malik Simmons, versatile Dalvin Battle (Fort Myers), quarterback Louis Pappas (Tarpon Springs), running back Willie Fleming from Cape Coral Island Coast
Class of 2013 defensive backs Jarmonte Jones and brother Damonte from defending 2B state champion Ocala Trinity Catholic were impressive.
Ken Griffey Jr. was on hand to support his son, Trey, who is a receiver at Orlando Dr. Phillips and competed in the event.
Here is a look at the South Florida area players who took part in the event:
HARD KNOCKS FOUNDATION 1:
Bob Orban, A.J. Leggett, Williams Cortes, Torry Clayton, Jacob McCrary, Demarus White, Elston Lane, James Burgess, Jr., Christian Hill, Trenton Perriman, Miguel Lopez and Derrick Guyton.
HARD KNOCKS FOUNDATION 2:
Michael Goodluck, Danny Gilbert, Akkil Walker, Tremaine Brock, Jarret Best, Michael Daniels, Daniel Sapp, Elijah Phillips, Ine Dean, Lamar Robbins, Karee Bailey, Lemmerick Hooker, Derrod Jones, Gary Zeigler and Cleveland Holmes.
SOUTH FLORIDA BLUR:
Kedric Bostic, Marcus Davis, Jamie Wilson, Cameron Posey, Tremaine McCullough, Adly Enoicy, Fred McRae, Gary Holmes, Roshard Burney, Corry Omeally, Donaldven Manning, Cre'von Leblanc, William Likely, Gerard Fulton, John Brockman, Dominque Gibson, Ja Wand Blue, Jatavis Brown, Devonte Robinson and Omar Pierre-Louis.
SOUTH FLORIDA EXPRESS:
E.J. Hilliard, Akeem Jones, Gunnar Holcomb, Duke Johnson, Sony Michel, Avery Johnson, Malcolm Lewis, Amari Cooper, Daniel Braverman, Devonte Mathis, Ricardo Louis, Macgarrett Kings, Brandon Snell, Herb Waters, Keith Brown, Feddie Davey, Eric Kinsey, Jeremiah McKinnon, Naquan Phillips, Sojourn Shelton, Deon Bush, Willie Bailey, Joseph McClary, Tracy Howard, Deshad Tucker, Hugs Etienne, Dinero Moss, Vernon Davis, Austin Logan and Isaac McDonald.
SOUTH FLORIDA FOOTBALL FIRE:
Tyler Cogswell, Jared Clark, Hansley Fleurejus, Brian Grole, Gheirry van der Kuyp, Robert Moore, Ahmad Fullwood, Isaiah McKenzie, Jonnie Durante, Dionte Taylor, Carl Marc, Adrian Burton, Larry Hope, Dion Witty, Deshawn Lindsey, Alonso Faison, Joshua Wright, Andy Garcia, Zachary Daise and David Rivers.
SOUTH FLORIDA FOOTBALL ICE:
Brandon Diaz, Kendrick Coumin, Jonaviote Ham, Henry Bussey, James Richadson, Kendall Coumin, Larry Faison, Tyler Cameron, Chris Bolton, Sammad Hinds, Illya Stafford, Quamin Floyd, Carlian Lewis, Brandon Dagnesses, Anthony Walker, Terry Harden, Jason Smith, Daniel Gray, Chris Morley and Molik Slade.