When the 2011 high school football season ended, there were a number of South Florida prospects who had an opportunity to put themselves in the spotlight for the upcoming year.
After completing successful seasons, many in the Class of 2013 started to receive letters, offers and plenty of attention for good reason.
But what about those athletes who were injured, played for a team that didn’t offer a chance to showcase their abilities or other reasons they weren’t recognized and promoted?
“That’s what is great about the off season,” said Corey Long of ESPN. “You not only have a spring, where there are 20 days of actual football, and also the 7-on-7 events, which have given the skilled athletes a huge advantage.”
Long also says that linemen and linebackers have a way of getting noticed throughout the spring and summer – attending events that college coaches teach and evaluate. They see a lot at those camps, which have earned many scholarship offers.
When you are dealing with this region, having 100-150 Division 1 athletes each year, there is always going to be a forum, or showcase, that these “under the radar” football prospects will have the chance to prove themselves.
“You would be amazed at how many football players that many fans have never heard about that are big time prospects,” Says South Florida Express 7-on-7 founder Brett Goetz. “We had so many quality athletes in every class at our tryout, we formed two teams. That’s how impressive the talent is.”
While the marquee athletes continue to get noticed, there are others who are now stepping up to the plate and getting that well-deserved attention.
Here are a few local athletes who have helped themselves in the four plus months since the season ended:
Adrian Baker, S, Chaminade-Madonna: This is a prospect who has certainly come out of nowhere after enjoying a solid junior season. With offers from schools such as Florida Boston College, you can see how his stock is rising.
Akeem Jones, QB, Carol City: For the past two years, everyone realized that the Chiefs had something special in this gifted passer. But this off season has uncovered a talent who is starting to get plenty of attention.
Jermaine Grace, LB, Miramar: While many had heard about him from last year’s state championship run, plenty of people found out how good and athletic he is.
Devondre Powell, DB, Jackson: If you watched the Generals play last year, you know that this is a tremendous talent who continues to turn heads in the off season. May turn out to be one of the elite prospects at the position.
Rashard Robinson, DB, Blanche Ely: Perhaps nobody has watched his football career soar more than this 6-3, 185-pounder, who can run and play this game at a high level.
Lance Virgil, OLB, St. Thomas Aquinas: Outside of the Raiders and many of the opponents they lined up against last year, very few people had a clue who this tackling machine was. He is a big time talent who is not done growing.
MUSTANGS TAKE CHARGE
While Cooper City pulled off the amazing district championship last year, and St. Thomas Aquinas finished second – both advancing to the playoffs – there was another team starting to turn things around.
Coach Andrew Rhoden and the Mustangs have set the table with a quality rising senior class that includes Jeremy Benjamin (LB/S, 6-3, 225), Cameron Johnson (LB/S, 6-1, 190), Steven Chica (WR, DB, 5-10, 170), Jabari Graves (RB/FB, 5-10, 190), Junior Talleyband (DB, 6-1, 170), Norman Lindo (FB/LB, 5-10, 210), Curtis Robertson (WR/DB, 6-2, 175), Nehemiah Ali (WR/DB, 5-6, 155), Jhamoy Belle (LB/S, 5-11, 180), James Olkinitsky, (DB/S, 6-0, 165) and Fernando Rodriguez, a, 5-10, 190-pound fullback.
The Mustangs also set the table for the future with rising juniors Damian Richardson (RB/DB, 5-9, 165), Matt Padilla (OL/DL, 6-2, 303), Joel Thompson (OL/DL, 6-5, 260), Alex Vargas, (OL/DL, 6-2, 312), Torris Calloway (Athlete, 6-2, 165) and defensive lineman Isaiah Mortimer (6-2, 260).
The Class of 2015 also shows why this will be a program to watch in 2012 with Kendrea McFadden (S, 6-3, 175), Alex Fowler (WR, 5-11, 160), Samy-Jean Claude (DE, 6-3, 180 and safety Thomas Nelson (5-10, 155).
We are always looking to help promote our area recruits for the current classes of 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. All you have to do is send a DVD and information about the athlete to: Larry Blustein, P.O. Box 3181, Hallandale Beach, FL 33009.
To comment, email [email protected] Follow Larry on Twitter at twitter.com/larryblustein