It is no longer a secret that if college coaches want a quality defensive back; one that was tested against some of the best competition in the country, they would head to South Florida.
Look up and down any NFL roster and you will see big time athletes - with South Florida pedigree, making a major impact. It's always been that way.
The speed and athleticism that the football talent has in this part of the country is simply unmatched. Athletes who were former star quarterbacks, receivers and running backs have found that the riches at the next level - and beyond - could be in the secondary.
While the Class of 2014 certainly has some marquee athletes, who can easily play on both sides of the ball - such as Miami Central running back's Joe Yearby and Dalvin Cook, Ermon Lane (Homestead), Cornelius Floyd (Miami Gulliver Prep), Chris Lammons (Plantation) and many others, the pure defensive back; those who have gone to countless camps, spent time admiring and learning from local greats such as Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle, Patrick Peterson and others, are what this is all about.
In just the past five years, 24 defensive backs have made their way from the football fields in Miami-Dade and Broward and have landed on NFL rosters. Those are numbers that no other state can come close to, and it drives the local high school football player harder to know they he can soon be in those same shoes.
There are once again big time prospects in this upcoming senior class who have already been coveted by some of the country's elite programs. After all, this is a region that continues to produce top-flight cornerbacks and safeties.
This year, while much of the focus will be on the uncanny depth at running back and quarterback, many will take for granted that the defensive secondary will do what its done for years - produce top-fight collegiate football talent.
Among those who head into the spring wearing that elite tag includes Miami Booker T. Washington corner Nigel Patten, Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale University), Miami Central standout Deatrick Nichols, John Battle IV (Hallandale), Marquese Dudley-Gordon (Weston Cypress Bay), Alshinard Harris (St. Thomas Aquinas), Carter Jacobs (Plantation American Heritage), Trumaine Washington (Miami Killian), Michael Johnson (Hialeah Champagnat Catholic), Antwan Cordy (South Dade), Andre Godfrey (Miramar), Marcus Leslie (Miami Coral Reef), Ryan Mayes (Miami Northwestern), Juwan Dowels (Davie Western), Andrew Soroh (Hialeah American), Jonathan Jackson (Hallandale), Deion Hallmon, Albert Smalls (Everglades) and safety Randy Ramsey from Dillard.
"You look at some of these defensive backs and you shake your head how advanced they are," said former Miami Dolphins standout Sam Madison. "Having the chance to work with many of the top kids with the 7-on-7 team or just in training, you have to be bowled over by the size and speed they bring to the game."
Madison and Patrick Surtain, who both are among the best ever to play for one team at the corner position, have the opportunity to teach so much to the players, which is a huge advantage.
Being in such a talented area also provides a forum for so many other defensive backs who have not been put on the radar, but certainly have turned plenty of heads. Players such as Tyson Burch (Cooper City), Gavin Anderson (Weston Cypress Bay), Stanley Barnwell (Miami Monsignor Pace), Malik Bynum (Coral Springs Coral Glades), Terrance Grant (Fort Lauderdale Dillard), Laroy James and Tyree Johnson (Miami Carol City), Kevin Joseph (North Miami Mourning) and Shyenn Magdelano (Southwest Miami),
"There are so many talented players we run into at tryouts for 7-on-7, combines, camps or any other event that is held," said Dana Wiley of Prep Films. "It's amazing how ,ugh talent you uncover even after spring and into the summer. That's what makes covering football down here so much fin."
Other defensive backs to keep an eye on this spring include Miami Northwestern safety Shermarke Spence, who is the younger brother of former UM standout and current Pittsburgh Steeler, Sean Spence. What he lacks in size, this is certainly a player who makes up for it with football skill and knowledge.
In addition to Spence, others to watch will be Daniel Neptune (Miami Belen Jesuit), Kris Sanchez (Weston Cypress Bay), Bobby Stinson (Miami Springs), Justin Wiggins (Miami Dade Christian), Brandon Wright (Hialeah American) and Coral Gables' Mark Wynn Jr., to name a few.
We are always looking to help promote our area recruits for the current Class of 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. All you have to do is send a You Tube or Hudl link and information about the athlete to: Larry Blustein at Floridakids1@aol.com.
Follow Larry on Twitter at twitter.com/larryblustein.