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14 posts from February 2014

February 04, 2014

NMB receiver Steve Ishmael picks Syracuse

North Miami Beach receiver Steve Ishmael, one of the top remaining uncommitted recruits in South Florida heading into the final days leading up to National Signing Day, committed to Syracuse University on Tuesday.

Ishmael picked the Orange over Cincinnati and Illinois where he will join former NMB teammate Ritchy Desir.

"I just want to go to Syracuse and help build an ACC Champion," Ishmael said. "We will have the opportunity to play against great competition and I am going to my best to get on the field as early as possible. Coach Cubit at Illinois and Coach Gran at Cincinnati did a great job of recruiting me but in the end I felt more at home at Syracuse. Go Orange."

Ishmael earned All-Dade First Team honors this past season, hauling in 68 passes for 951 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Here is a link to a story I wrote on Ishmael before the start of the season.

NMB offensive lineman Osman Aguilera and defensive back Immel Raj are expected to sign with Florida A&M and Highlands Community College, respectively.

> Former NMB defensive back Correy Omeally, who was a JUCO All-American at Elsworth Community College in Iowa this past season, will sign with Texas Christian University Wednesday, NMB coach Jeff Bertaini said. Omeally graduated from NMB in 2012.


February 03, 2014

Cardinal Gibbons' George Rushing commits to Wisconsin, Trevon Lee picks Duke

George Rushing and Trevon Lee have seen the repercussions coaching changes in college football have had on current and prospective players firsthand.

In the end, choosing the colleges that offered the two Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons wide receivers the most stability where major factors in their decisions.

Rushing announced his commitment to Wisconsin, with Lee deciding to take his talents to Duke. Both made their decisions public on WQAM Monday night.

Rushing, rated a three-star receiver by multiple media outlets, has had a hectic start to 2014 to say the least. He was previously committed to Louisville since May 2013, but Charlie Strong’s departure to take the head coaching position at Texas left Rushing trying to put all the pieces in his recruitment back together since withdrawing his pledge on Jan. 8.

“It’s been crazy,” Rushing said to the Miami Herald about 90 minutes before announcing his decision.
Rushing took official visits to Wisconsin on Jan. 17, Louisville on Jan. 24 and TCU this past weekend in hopes of finding some clarity, and did with a school kept its persistence.

“The only school I’ve known for a really long time has been Wisconsin,” Rushing said. “They’ve been recruiting me since April. They never gave up even when I committed [to Louisville].”

Rushing said getting to know the new staff at Louisville and trying to quickly build a relationship with those at TCU “as kind of hard, but worth it.”

In the end, joining Wisconsin’s pass-heavy offense was the deciding factor for Rushing, who has grown close with Badgers head coach Gary Andersen and wide receivers coach Chris Betty. Rushing should have no problems thriving as he secured the third-most touchdowns amongst players in Miami-Dade and Broward County last season with 13.

“Basically what [Andersen] wants to do is bring in some playmakers to throw the ball” said Rushing, who had 47 catches for 598 yards. “And I feel like I can be that playmaker especially in the Big Ten.”

For Lee, seeing Duke coach David Cutcliffe promote passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery to offensive coordinator once Kurt Roper left for Florida was reassuring to say the least.

“That was a very big factor to me since a lot of coaches have been swapping schools lately,” Lee said before an hour his announcement. “But Coach Roper leaving didn't really affect me, and I know for a fact Coach Cut isn't going anywhere.”

Duke defensive backs coach Derek Jones was also a key component for Lee, who visited the school this past weekend after taking an official visit to Vanderbilt on Jan. 24. Ultimately, Duke provided more stability after seeing James Franklin leave Vandy to take the helm at Penn State.

Lee, who was tied in 15th place amongst Miami-Dade and Broward County players last season with 741 receiving yards, will now share receiving duties with another South Florida stud in Chris Taylor from Davie University School.

“I say we're pretty close,” Lee said of his friendship with Taylor. “Still working on our friendship since we pretty much just met in the middle of this football season, but we're really cool. He's been telling me about the program and why I should go there with him.”

In the meantime for Rushing and Lee, announcing their decisions together was a lasting moment for both.

“It means a lot,” Lee said. “[Rushing has] been my bro since he got to [Cardinal Gibbons] so I'm glad we're ending our recruiting process together. “We both worked very hard for this moment.”

-Two more local prospects announced their commitments Monday night. Miami Columbus linebacker Nick MeBeath will sign with Holy Cross. Miramar quarterback Nick Jeanty will head to New Mexico State.

February 01, 2014

Former Norland offensive coordinator Anthony White takes over at American

Northwestern wasn't the only Dade County school to fill a coaching vacancy on Saturday.

American hired former Norland offensive coordinator Anthony White to replace Corey Bell, who left to become the defensive backs coach at FAU.

White, 33, spent the last five years coaching quarterbacks for the Vikings and studying under one of the most respected offensive gurus in the state in Daryle Heidelburg. The Vikings won a state title with current Miami Hurricane Duke Johnson in 2012.

"When I first got to Norland, coach Heidelburg said to me 'To be a good leader you have to be a good follower.' He said, 'Coach I’m going to groom you up,'" said White, who played receiver at Miami Central and North Miami High school and two seasons of Junior College football in Oklahoma.

"I'm grateful for all the things I learned under Coach Berg and now I feel I'm ready for the next step."

The Patriots are coming off back-to-back district titles and three straight first round exits in the playoffs.

"Coach Bell got that thing jumping over there," White said. "It’s going to be tough to follow behind a guy like him. I’m not really trying to change everything he set. He does have some good things in place."

White, who left college to come back and be around for his son, said his son, Anthony Jr., now 15, will play at American next season. He too is a talented receiver.

Before coaching at Norland, White coached quarterbacks at Hialeah-Miami Lakes for a season and Hialeah the six seasons prior.

White said he will be introduced to his new team on Monday.

American hasn't won a playoff game since 1997.


New Northwestern coach Eddie Brown has longtime friendship, rivalry with Central's Roland Smith

Just when we thought Northwestern and Central's rivalry might be getting a little stale (the Rockets have owned the Bulls lately and won three state titles in four years) things have suddenly gotten a little more interesting.

Saturday, Northwestern hired Eddie "Rabbit" Brown to fill its head coaching vacancy. Brown, the 44-year old father of Pittsburgh Steelers star receiver Antonio Brown, not only graduated from Central, but he grew up playing with and against Central coach Roland Smith (a Northwestern grad) since the age of six.

"We were teammates for a long time at the Northwest Boys Club," recalled Smith. "Then when it came time to go to high school, I went to the West and he went to Central. If he's honest with you he'll tell you I won the head-to-head battles. I shut him down [laughter]."

Brown, tabbed the greatest player in Arena League Football History with more than 12,000 receiving yards and 300 touchdowns as a receiver for the Albany Firebirds, comes to Northwestern from Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, his first stint as a head coach.

Before that, though, Brown and Smith would often help each other when Smith coached at Northwestern. Brown recruited former Northwestern linebacker Lavonte David to Fort Scott Community College where he was an assitant for a few years. David is now in his second year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brown has hired former Central, Dillard and Deerfield Beach coach Manny Martin to be his defensive coordinator. Brown told me there will be a bunch of locals on his coaching staff.

"In s all about who you know," Brown said. "When I got wind there may be an opportunity at Northwestern I reached out to the athletic director Andre Williams and let him know if there was an opportunity I wanted in. I submitted my resume and today they named me head coach.

"I can't wait to get started."

Brown said he'll be in South Florida until Wednesday before returning home to Kansas City. He'll return to South Florida on March 3rd and then begin preparing for spring football.

What does he plan on doing to help Northwestern, coming off a 5-5 season, catch up with Central?

"Right now I plan on making sure we’re together, one family, one direction, inserting an atmosphere of being competitive," he said. "Our most important goal is to get everyone on the same page."

Brown said his son is hoping to run a football camp at Northwestern sometime in the spring.

"No matter who is on the sideline Northwestern-Central is always going to be a rivalry," Smith said. "I’m sure he won’t be taking it easy on us just because he's playing his alma mater."