A who’s who list of high school football players from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties participated at the Nike Football Training Camp at Plantation’s American Heritage High School on Sunday with eight players earning the distinct honor of being invited to Nike’s The Opening event.
From left in the photo above: Palm Beach Gardens linebacker Tevon Coney, Miramar cornerback Kendrell McFadden, Miami Central wide receiver Da’Vante Phillips, Heritage quarterback Torrance Gibson, Monarch wide receiver Calvin Ridley, Heritage cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, Miami Central safety Calvin Brewton and Miramar cornerback Tyrek Cole were all invited to the nation’s premier football camp held in July at Nike’s headquarters in Beavertown, Ore.
“I’ve been watching this event since a little kid and it means a lot,” Cole said. “I feel like I accomplished something big so that feels good.”
Said Coney: “I’ve been praying for a long time that I would get invited, and I just continued to work hard, stay humble, and waited for my chance to get it.”
Added Ridley: “I’m just happy I got it, but I’m going to be more happy when I get there.”
Several players also earned most valuable players honors for their respective positions. Phillips, Coney and Cole won MVP honors for the receivers, linebackers and cornerbacks, respectively. Miami Booker T. Washington quarterback Maurice Alexander, Lake Worth Park Vista running back Zander Bernard, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna offensive lineman Christian Strachan, and Coral Gables defensive lineman Jarred McGahee also won MVP honors.
“I’m speechless,” Strachan said. “I thought some other guys would’ve got it, but I guess I showed out.”
Honorable mentions from the event:
--Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas 2016 wide receiver Sam Bruce was one of the best performers during the event, but did not receive an invite. Westminster Christian running back Jordan Cronkrite was also a snub. But check out these videos of Bruce, in white, outdueling Killian's Jaquan Johnson (in the first video) and Wesminster defensive back Tim Irvin during 1-on-1 drills.
--Miami Gulliver Prep wide receiver Dionte Mullens was also a standout. Check out this sick catch he had captured by ESPN.
--As much as Da’Vante Phillips tries to sidestep the topic, it’s close to inevitable he’s going to commit to Florida State to reunite with running back teammate Dalvin Cook.
Phillips, right, visited FSU on Feb. 22 with Cook showing him around Tallahassee, and said “It feels good knowing that’s a good environment.”
Phillips left Sunday’s event to hang out with Cook, who was in town for spring break. On playing together at the next level, Phillips said “We’re going to be dominant. We do good when we’re with each other.”
Phillips also isn’t concerned with having to compete with Seminoles receivers Ermon Lane (Homestead), Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman) and Javon Harrison (Lakeland Kathleen) if he does end up at FSU.
“I’m not going to say I’m better than those guys,” Phillips said, “but I’m just going to have to work to get that spot.”
Phillips, a former Florida commit, said he’s not been having as much communication with the Gators coaching staff as of late. UM is also in the picture for Phillips, who wants to take visits to Auburn, Louisville, Ohio State and Alabama sometime this summer.
--Tevon Coney, right, has seen his recruitment skyrocket once the 2014 signing period came to a close.
Coney holds offers from more than 15 schools in the country and has interest from at least 10 more schools. Coney said he doesn’t have any favorites and is wide open at the moment with visits to UM this coming week, and visiting UF on Friday and Saturday.
Coney said both schools are recruiting hard, with Florida “recruiting him the hardest.” Ohio State, Tennessee and Clemson are also showing him the most love.
--UM commit Charles Perry, a 2015 linebacker from Royal Palm Beach, said he’s “100 percent committed to Miami, but I’m also open because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Perry, who committed to UM in June 2013, said he talks to UM’s coaches about “once a week.” He’s also hearing from Tennessee, West Virginia, Auburn, Illinois, Minnesota and Central Florida.
Perry said he’s not really trying to recruit other players to UM, but is trying to get in Coney’s ear.
“I’d love to play next to him,” Perry said of Coney.
--Miami Killian safety Jaquan Johnson said Florida, Miami, Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State have been keeping in touch with him, but said he doesn’t have a school that stands out on top for him at this point.
He plans to visit UM before the end of March and Alabama for its spring game on April 19.
As you see from the photo on the right, UM is the favorite to land Johnson.
--Calvin Ridley said Alabama and Miami are still stand on top for him and close friend Shawn Burgess-Becker, but he is not in any rush to commit to a school.
“I just want to take my time, get my work done, and then I’ll focus on [recruiting],” Ridley said.