As more and more combines and camps are held for football prospects during the winter and spring, many players, coaches and parents are finding that while many are designed to showcase the elite players, it's those under the radar athletes who are actually winning out.
As Nike, Rivals.com, Scout.com and others come into southern Florida, looking to showcase many of the elite prospects, football players such as rising seniors Carter Jacobs (Plantation American Heritage) and Harry Dumervil (Oakland Park Northeast), rising juniors Shaq Green (Miami Washington) and Jordan Cronkite (Miami Westminster Christian), and rising sophomores Tyler Huntley (Hallandale) and Kato Nelson (McArthur) have used the spotlight to make their own way.
"When many companies host a combine, they are looking at the Sony Michels (Plantation American Heritage) and Joseph Yearbys (Miami Central)," said Dana Wiley of Prep Films. "They rarely promote the kids who aren't already rated as the ones to keep an eye on."
In south Florida that recipe is often going to lead for a number of missed prospects. Athletes who have the skill level to be considered one of the best in the state, but have been overlooked or not discovered at all.
If many had taken the time to watch a prospects like Jacobs play last year, they would understand that the 6-1, 195-pound safety is one of the best Florida has to offer. The lack of attention never bothered him in the past, and even though a few started to take notice at the recent Rivals.com exposure camp at North Broward Prep, Jacobs is fine with his underdog role.
"I work extremely hard at becoming a better football player, Jacobs said. "I know which people have taken notice of what I do, and trust those people to continue pushing me. For my part, I get work hard and know that everything will fall into place."
Jacobs also has followed in the footsteps of close friend, Michael Deeb, who is headed to Notre Dame. Deeb pushed and motivates Jacobs - and that his helped bring him to that next level.
Green is also making a name for himself this off season. The one time youth football standout in Overtown, began his career at Norland before moving to BTW last year. A slot player and running back, he dazzled everyone at the Rivals.com event, but has remained active in the off season, competing at 7-on-7 events and giving himself a chance to make an impression with the Tornadoes.
His opportunity to really turn up the heat - from the football standpoint, and not just in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, will come in the spring as well as when BTW takes its superb 7-on-7 team on the road.
Green's speed and athleticism has given him the chance to turn some heads as he races toward his junior season.
One of the major surprises for most who had not watched him play before is Dumervil, a 6-foot-7 offensive lineman who is as strong as many one in the nation, but lacks live play.
Dumervil steam-rolled all the top defensive prospects on hand and had major offensive line athletes watching his every move.
Much depends on how the coaching change will help this year - as former FSU receiver Kez McCorvey moves in at Northeast with a year to make up a lot of lost time that Dumervil has not been on the field.
In addition, an event like Rivals.com gave a number of players, who were not on the radar screen before, that opportunity to shine and finally get some recognition.
"When you have over 100 D1 type of prospects to sort through, it's never easy to see them all," Wiley pointed out. "That is why you look at players in the NFL that come from this area that were never promoted or exposed."
Some of the Class of 2014 prospects who have stepped up include Kai Absheer (OL, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas), Peyton Bender (QB, Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons), Jarius Brown (WR, Fort Lauderdale University School), Dreshown Dean (LB, Miami Norland), Raul Diaz, OL, Miami Central), Jeremiah Dinson (DB, Miami Norland), Tevin Evans (LB, Miami Booker T. Washington), Jonathan Harris (LB, Miami Central), Nick McBeath (LB, Miami Christopher Columbus), Terry McCray (LB, Pompano Beach Blanche Ely), Devaughn Priester (DL, Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons), Randy Ramsey, DB, Fort Lauderdale Dillard), Keith Reed (QB, Miami Central), Nicholas Richardson (LB, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas), Jon Schultz (OL, Miami Belen Jesuit), Semar Smith (RB, Coral Springs Taravella), Jestin Snow (OL, Miami Northwestern), Christopher Taylor (WR, Coconut Creek North Broward Prep) and Jaboree Williams (LB, Fort Lauderdale).
Rising juniors who have jumped on the radar screen include Deonta’ Fair (DB, Miramar), Johnnie Hankins (RB, Homestead), Jeffrey Hill (DB, Miramar), Christian Irving (LB, Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson) and Tarvarus McFadden (DB, Plantation American Heritage) 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 video link and information about the athlete to Floridakids1@aol.com. Follow Larry on Twitter at twitter.com/larryblustein.