Ravian Pierce needed a few weeks to decide where he wanted to play college football.
In the end, he found comfort from a family member already playing at his future school.
Pierce – a 6-4, 215-pound tight end at Plantation High School – signed his National Letter of Intent to play for the Bulldogs in front of friends and family members at his school on Wednesday. He will join his cousin, Rufus Warren, who will be a junior next season and is listed as a tight end for the Razorbacks, but Pierce said Warren will play on the offensive line.
Pierce visited the school this past weekend, and made a final decision 22 days after National Signing Day for the Class of 2014 because he was waiting on a qualifying ACT score to close the deal. Pierce will likely spend a year at a junior college to meet academic requirements before playing at Mississippi St.
Pierce was previously committed to Arkansas thanks to his close relationship with Charlie Partridge, who was an assistant head coach and defensive line coach at Arkansas before taking the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic. Pierce withdrew his pledge to the Razorbacks on Jan. 22, and picked Mississippi St. over FAU despite his rapport with Partridge.
“I can’t complain about anything,” Pierce said. “I feel like I made the right choice. I didn’t rush anything.
“Me and coach Partridge, I was real close with him. But I kind of feel down – not saying in a bad way – but I’m just saying like me and his connection was real tight, but things happen for a reason.”
Pierce said he’s not really sure which school he would have picked if he had to make a decision on National Signing Day. Both FAU and Mississippi St. would have accepted his commitment, Plantation coach Steve Davis said.
“It was really hard,” Pierce said of his final decision. “It was very close. Very close.
“I’m pretty sure [Partridge will] be ok [with my decision], but still excited for me.”
Pierce becomes the 24th commitment in the Class of 2014 for Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen and co-offensive coordinator Billy Gonzales, whom Pierce informed of his decision earlier Thursday.
“They were pumped up,” Pierce said. “They were excited.”
Now Pierce’s attention shifts to finishing the school year strong, and his journey ahead.
“I’m a clown and I like to play around, but I’m going to take this serious for the next couple of years,” Pierce said.
When it comes to recruiting south Florida, there are always going to be quality receivers, running backs and even emerging quarterbacks that dot the talented landscape.
But if you want the position that has long been the calling card for this region of the state – there is no question that the defensive secondary is the place where colleges come to enhance their programs – and the NFL is a destination.
When the 2013 NFL season began, there were more defensive backs – who were groomed for the future – in south Florida - than any other part of the country. It’s been that way since the 1970s – when prospects from this area would star in Super Bowls and NFL championship games. It’s that way today.
The defensive secondary Class of 2015, like the running backs that came this past year, could be among the most talented and deepest group ever.
As the off season unfolded, there were at least 30 cornerbacks and safeties who were recruited by major colleges and universities across the country.
At the head of that list is Killian safety and top-rated prospect Jaquan Johnson (5-11, 180). The gifted athlete has been among the nation’s best football prospects, and as he is now healthy, all eyes are on his off season.
What makes Johnson so special is his overall athletic ability and gift of playing anywhere on the field. A true safety prospect who changes a game – in a hurry.
“I enjoy playing a lot of positions, but safety s where I think I can really make the difference,” Johnson said. “I think that is where I can help the team the most.”
As Johnson continues to receiver plenty of attention, he is certainly not alone. Top-flight safety prospects will roam several secondaries over the next year. Among the other players already turning heads include Shawn Burgess-Becker (6-2, 190, Coconut Creek Monarch), West Virginia commit Kendrell McFadden (6-3, 190, Miramar), FSU commit Calvin Brewton (6-0, 170, Miami Central), Killian’s Bruce Davis (6-0, 195), FAU commit Roderick Archer (6-1, 200, South Plantation), Antonyo Sontolongo (6-0, 200, Gulliver Prep), Malik Jackson (5-11, 180, Hialeah Champagnat Catholic) and University School transfer Christian Irving (5-11, 198, Plantation American Heritage).
“I have been watching a lot of what south Florida produces for a long time,” said Dana Wiley of Prep Films. “This group of defensive backs is easily the deepest. There’s a tradition to live up to.”
The cornerbacks in this class are also tremendous as well. Leading the way is Plantation American Heritage’s Tarvarus McFadden (6-3, 195), early FSU commit Tyrek Cole (5-10, 165, Miramar), Tim Irvin (5-9, 190, Miami Westminster Christian), Norland standout Carlton Davis (6-2, 190), Devante Davis (6-2, 190, Booker T. Washington), Champagnat Catholic standout Gerald Robinson (5-11, 175), Rashard Causey (6-0, 190, St. Thomas Aquinas) and Carol City standout Rashad Fenton (5-10, 180).
Other cornerbacks who have received plenty of recognition so far include Northwestern’s Khalid McGee (5-10, 180), Sheldrick Redwine (6-2, 190, Killian), Robert Knowles (6-1, 185, Edison), Tyson Cisrow (6-1, 185, St. Thomas Aquinas), Jeremiah Dinson (6-0, 170, American), Olin Cushion (5-10, 170, Central), Richie Kittles (6-0, 180, Stranahan), Ronnie Hoggins (5-10, 165, Monarch), Andrew Spence (6, 2, 190, Coral Gables), Damon Arnette (6-2, 185, St. Thomas Aquinas), Jeffrey Hill (5-8, 175, Miramar), Deonte Fair (5-10, 190, Plantation American Heritage), Tobias Moss (5-11, 180, Miami Westminster Christian), Blanche Ely’s Kevin Williams (6-2, 185), Jalin Leandre (5-9, 175, Hallandale) and McArthur’s Malik Wisdom (5-10, 180) to name a few.
We are always looking to help promote our area recruits for the current Class of 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. 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.
Although Nike made its way to South Florida to showcase some of the top, rising high school football players in the area, two athletes far from home stole the show.
Nike continued its SPARQ Combine Tour at North Miami Stadium on Sunday with 2016 wide receivers Tyler Bryd (Naples High) and Brock Miller (Vero Beach Saint Edward’s) earning the only two unofficial ratings eclipsing 100 points.
Byrd, an early University of Florida commitment had the highest SPARQ (speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness) rating amongst the more than 1,500 prospects who participated with a score of 102.54, highlighted by his scores in the 40-yard dash (4.61 seconds), kneeling power ball thrown (38 feet) and vertical jump (38.8 inches). Miller finished with a 101.82, highlighted by his 4.25-second time in the 20-yard shuttle run and 38-feet attempt in the kneeling power ball throw.
The ratings come from tests in the above events, with players also having the options to scratch a time if they wish it not be reported. Having a score scratched, in turn, negatively affects an overall score, which would affect a player’s ability to get invited to a Nike Football Training Combine or even The Opening – Nike’s premier summer event showcasing the top high school players in the country.
Twelve players had ratings of 90 or higher, with three just barely missing the 100-point threshold. Miami Norland 2015 defensive back Carlton Davis had the third highest overall score with 99.78, followed by Miami Gulliver Prep running back Robert Burns – the highest rated 2017 prospect – with a 99.69, and Palm Beach Central 2015 linebacker Frantz Frezin (99.12).
Miami Braddock 2015 running back Lazaro Cespedes (96.54), South Plantation 2015 linebacker and Florida Atlantic commit Rodrick Archer (94.98), Hialeah Champagnat Catholic wide receiver Steven Claude (94.89), Coconut Creek 2015 wide receiver Korron Rozier (93.45), Miami Gulliver Prep 2015 safety Antonyo Sotolongo (92.70), Miami Booker T. Washington 2016 running back Mark Walton (91.47) and West Broward 2016 running back Ricardo Rosario (91.32) round out the athletes from South Florida who had ratings more than 90.
Pembroke Pines Flanagan’s Ryan Stanley was the highest-rated quarterback amongst all participants with an 86.94 rating, marked by a 4.62 40-yard dash, 4.50 20-yard shuttle run and 36-foot kneeling power ball throw.
Miami Coral Reef’s Joe Suarez was the highest-rated defensive lineman with his 88.74 rating, followed by Coconut Creek’s Kermit Silva (87.66), Miami Northwestern’s Keir Thomas (87.48) and Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas’ Wyatt Ray (85.71) and Deerfield Beach’s Jason Strowbridge (84.75).
Aquinas' Samuel Clausman was the highest-rated offensive lineman with an 81.39 score.
Top performers in each event:
--40-yard dash: Miami Christopher Columbus 2016 running back Amir Rasul with a 4.52 time.
--20-yard shuttle run: Plantation 2015 wide receiver Mitch Milfort with a 4.12 time.
--Kneeling power ball throw: Strowbridge with 42 feet.
--Vertical jump: Naples High 2016 running back Carlin Fils Aime with 40.8 inches.
Click here for the complete unofficial results from the Miami NFTC combine.