So, from the time that the 2013 season ended in Orlando – with South Dade beating Apopka in the 8A title game, there have been combines, clinics, 7-on-7 all-star team tryouts and 7-on-7 tournaments.
That leaves the question – at least for old timers like myself and others – where are the baseball players, track athletes and soccer standouts? Do they no longer play multiple sports?
Well, they actually do. Many football players have been able to do well in track and explode during a 7-on-7 event – and baseball prospects like North Miami’s Victor Sam, who does pretty well on the football as a top receiver prospect for the Pioneers.
It has reached a point – as we saw during last weekend’s 16-team B2G Sports event at Carter Park in Fort Lauderdale – where some will actually split time like many did in the tournament last weekend, opting for track on Saturday and football on Sunday.
Many of the top 7-on-7 teams from across the state find it tough to survive a south Florida tournament that now is home to some 10 different teams and the competition to attract players is as well expected – competitive.
The South Florida Express Elite – the first team to field an off season program nearly 10 years ago – won the event and the trip to Los Angeles to compete in the national tournament.
Brett Goetz, who has helped to build and fund this impressive program that has high profile coaches and players, by taking them to every event and showcasing many colleges to them during the summer months.
While many teams have been added, it’s still Goetz and his loyal coaches that have maintained this program – and many quality teams have followed.
Even Goetz realized that once the popularity of the off season events gained steam, more teams would pop up and the battle to attract players would be tough.
“From the beginning, our intention was to give players such as Ryan Shazier, Geno Smith, Teddy Bridgewater, Ivan McCartney and so many others a place to stay in football mode year round,” Goetz recalled. “To this day, they all reflect on what the experience of playing with us was all about.”
While the 7-on-7 teams do go after a lot of the same players – even after high profile tryouts are held – the real winners in all this are the dozens of young prospects who never get the chance to participate in the off season.
More teams have added to the local competition as well – with Team Strong Arm coming up with a number of prospects that can really play – and that added up to second place finish and a trip with the Express – to California.
Teams such as the Fire North – where coach Dennis Marroquin and his talented Kato Nelson to high school teammate Darnell Salomon combination that paved the way for the 2A state crown this last season at Champagnat Catholic, have become a real force.
The Fire South, GVP All-Stars, Team Red Zone, Team Hard Knocks and Miami Showcase also have given additional players a chance they may not have had in the past.
“The more teams we get to play, the better competition it is for all our kids I south Florida,” said Marroquin, who has coordinated the Hialeah offense the past few seasons. “The thing about all the teams that we have down here is all have so much talent, you never know what will happen from game to game.”
The 7-on-7 tournaments, like many of the camps and combines that are hosted down here, are loaded with prospects. You can just go all day and watch major football talent like Jaquan Johnson (Killian), Dionte Mullins and Cedric Wright (Gulliver Prep), Miramar defensive back Tyrek Cole and South Dade running back Johnnie Hankins.
You could sit there with a top 150 checklist and watch elite football talent such as Torrance Gibson, QB, Plantation American Heritage, Calvin Ridley, Monarch, Da’Vante Phillips, Tarvarus McFadden, Plantation American Heritage, Tim Irvin, Miami Westminster Christian, Kendrell McFadden, Miramar, Calvin Brewton, Central and Jordan Cronkite, Miami Westminster Christian to name a few.
Booker T. Washington coming attractions such as quarterback Maurice Alexander and receiver Antonio Calloway, defensive back Devante Davis - along with 2016 standout Dontye Carriere-Williams and receiver Darrius Scott along with a familiar name, (receiver) Clevan Thomas, who is the freshman son of former Miami High standout “Cookie” Thomas.
Speaking of coming attractions, Flanagan 2017 quarterback Stanford Samuels, Jr., is not only the son of one-time Carol City standout, this is one of the emerging quarterback prospects. Also, Coconut Creek difference-making receiver Emmanuel Green has proven that he can mix it up with anyone.
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.