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5 posts from March 2014

March 17, 2014

USF gets 2015 commitments from Southwest's Deundre Pickett-White and Trevon Sands

Former Miami Central coach Telly Lockette has struck in and for South Florida again.

Two of Miami Southwest’s best playmakers, quarterback Deundre Pickett-White and athlete Trevon Sands, both announced their commitments to USF on Monday night.

Pickett-White, one of the most underrated quarterbacks in South Florida, said he and Sands made their decisions at school Monday after a month of talks with each other pondering the decision. Both players have been playing together since their Pop Warner days, and have been close to Lockette – currently USF’s running back coach – since they were in the 10th grade.

“We were just spoke about our chemistry and how much better we can make a team,” Pickett-White said of his conversation with Sands. “It would be best for us to stick together and keep the chemistry going.”

Pickett-White said Lockette made him work for the USF offer exclusively at the quarterback position, and took heed of the challenge at the end of his sophomore year. He sent midseason highlight film for Lockette to watch, and finally got his offer after accounting for more than 2,100 yards with 25 touchdowns last season.

“I worked much harder in the weight room and on the field,” Pickett-White said. “I studied hard on [watching film], and just to get a better mindset because I wanted to let people know I wanted to be labeled as a quarterback.”

Sands, a dynamic player who can play running back, receiver or defensive back, had 21 catches for 572 yards and 93 carries for 635 yards with 18 total touchdowns, and 65 total tackles last season. Pickett-White said USF wants Sands to play on both sides of the ball.

“All of us know what we want out of each other,” Pickett-White said of himself, Sands and Lockette. “I think it’s going to [continue to] be a good relationship between all three of us [going forward].”

Pickett-White and Sands become the third and fourth members of USF’s 2015 recruiting class under head coach Willie Taggart.

In the last recruiting cycle, Taggart and Lockette landed commitments from Miami Jackson quarterback Quinton Flowers, Central cornerback Deatrick Nichols and offensive lineman Michael Smith and North Miami wide receiver Stanley Clerveaux.

March 16, 2014

2014 Miami Nike Football Training Camp Recap

Photo (4)

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.


Recruiting notes

--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.

HvjYw.St.56Phillips, 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.


Photo 2

 --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.



Photo 4--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.


RVVhc.St.56--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.


March 14, 2014

7-on-7 Events Open The Way For More Exposure

It’s official, there is no longer a word in the football vocabulary that has anything to do with the off season. There is simply no off days, weeks or months like in the past. Too much at stake.

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.

March 11, 2014

Talented Class of 2016 Already In The Spotlight

On the heels of what many have called two of the most impressive and talented classes that south Florida has developed, 2016 has already proven that it will be loaded with quality football.

With the Classes of 2014 and 2015 already showcasing the many elite prospects that this region always have to offer, this upcoming junior class has been turning heads since many arrived on the high school level.

When this class began, there were a corps of five players that you viewed - earlier on - as prospects who were on that "fast track to the NFL". 

In that mix of players - you had receiver Sam Bruce and defensive lineman Nick Bosa from St. Thomas, Gulliver Prep defensive back/receiver Dionte Mullins, Champagnat receiver Darnell Salomon and Booker T. Washington running back Mark Walton. All impact prospects who take teams to the next level.

Even though these five still stand tall, this is after all, one of the most prospect-rich regions in the country and without hesitation, several other elite prospects have started to join this quality group.

The special players from this class seem to get more exposure each and every week during the season - and take full advantage of the off season.

Among those offensive prospects to keep an eye on include a south Florida quarterback class that many are thinking rivals the 2014 group that sent top-flight prospects across the country.

Champagnat's Kato Nelson, Hallandale's Tyler Huntley, Coconut Creek's Jhakari Harrison, Christian Matos (Belen Jesuit), Eddy Mendez (Edison), Cypress Bay's Kole Stealy, Jackson's Desmond Phillips, Chaminade's Steven “Buckshot” Calvert and Central's Jerrod Thomas have plenty of talent.

"This quarterback class is really impressive," said Ken Mastrole, who runs Mastrole Passing Academy. "From a technical standpoint, one of the dynamic we've had. This is the group that started early and have come on quickly."

While Walton is the marquee back of the class, he isn't alone. Cardinal Gibbons speedster Deon McIntosh and Coral Gables' standout Keino Mike are very impressive. So is Coral Springs Charter's Kalen Carson and a number of other players who will rise to the top during the spring.

Receivers are also going to be special with Northeast's 6-4, 195-pound Binjimen Victor leading the way – along with American Heritage's Brandon Johnson and Dredrick Snelson.

The depth at receiver in this class boasts prospects such as Miami Westminster Christian's Tony Gaiter, Carol City's Steve Newbold, Southridge standout Freddie Pinder, Malek Young (Coconut Creek), Hallandale's Chris Cotto and Neru N'Shaka - as well as North Miami's Henry Payoute. Even tight Vosean Joseph from Norland is looking for a breakout year.

Defensively, linemen such as Gulliver Prep's Joseph Jackson (6-6, 240), Dillard's Aaron Thompson (6-3, 240), Monarch's Matt Croyle (6-1, 250), Zion Lutheran's Chris Judge (6-3, 230) and Central's Kier Thomas (6-2, 225) have the chance to be special.

Coral Gables' linebacker Shakur Cooper has the chance to be as talented as the Cavaliers have had - and they have produced some quality prospects at this position through the years.

Other quality linebackers for the class will include Bradley Clements (American Heritage), South Broward's Edward King, Hosea McMullin (Booker T. Washington) and Donovan Thompson (Central).

Once again, south Florida is not this region without quality defensive backs. Gulliver Prep safety Cedric Wright and Booker T. Washington cornerback Dontye Carriere-Williams - are headed to the next level.

Champagnat's Antoine Webster, Stranahan's Marcus Garvin, Hallandale's Jaelyn Faulk and Central's Jamel Cook are very special as well.

As we continue to do – we will add prospects each week – giving this area the exposure and promotion the stellar athletes deserve.

    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.

March 06, 2014

St. Thomas Aquinas vs. American Heritage to open 2014 football season at Sun Life Stadium

            Two of the nation's best and most-tradition rich programs in Broward County will clash this August to kick off the 2014 football season.

            Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, a seven-time state champion and two-time national champion, will take on defending Class 5A state champion Plantation American Heritage in each team’s regular season opener at Sun Life Stadium.

            According to St. Thomas athletic director George Smith, the game is tentatively scheduled for August 29 at a time to be announced later.

            “It depends on scheduling with the Dolphins, but it should be that Friday,” Smith said.

            American Heritage won its first state football championship this past season going 13-1 and winning its final 13 games. The Patriots return several starters from last year’s team and are expected to be among the nation’s best next season.

            Aquinas reached the regional finals last season a year after winning its seventh state championship and is also expected to be tabbed among the top teams in the country and a favorite to win the Class 7A state championship.




The game adds to an already jam-packed weekend involving South Florida’s top high school football teams.


On August 30, Miami Norland, Miami Central and defending national champion Miami Booker T. Washington will play a tripleheader against three of Georgia’s top teams.


The event will be played at Hallford Stadium (15,000-seat capacity) in Clarkston, roughly 18 miles from Atlanta.


Norland, which is trying to turn around from a 3-7 season, will open the event against MLK High.


Central, the back-to-back defending Class 6A state champions, will take on Stephenson in the middle game.


Booker T., which will enter next season on a 26-game winning streak, will cap the event playing Tucker, a Class 5A state runner-up in Georgia last year.


At least part of the event is expected to be televised nationally by the ESPN networks.


            Booker T. began its national championship run with a 55-0 victory over Norcross (Ga.) last season on ESPN.


            Georgia teams have not been kind in recent years to Central, which lost to CamdenCounty in 2010 and Grayson in 2012, but won on the road last season against Don Bosco Prep (NJ).


            Norland lost to Stephenson in its opener last season at Hallford Stadium. The Vikings’ opponent this season, MLK, defeated Pompano Beach Blanche Ely the same day.


Central and Booker T. are each also working on booking a second road game early next season.