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Emptying the Notebook: St. Thomas Aquinas Spring Scrimmage

HarriottThere’s a new head coach at St. Thomas Aquinas, but there’s still the same talent we’re used to.

Roger Harriott (pictured to the left), after one season coaching running backs at FAU following his successful stint with University School, is at the helm of his alma mater, and his Raiders looked especially impressive at their Blue and Gold Game on Thursday.

A bit of a theme in talking to players is that they don’t feel like a team but rather a family since Harriott took over.

For Sam Bruce, a UM commit who played under Harriott at U-School for two years, he has the privilege to be reunited with him.

“It’s a blessing that he’s here,” says Bruce, the high-end four-star receiver. “I was very elated [when I found out he was coming]. I was very happy. I was very fortunate.”

Bruce reaffirmed with me that his UM commitment is “very firm,” even though many fans fear the Canes will eventually lose him. Bruce committed about 10 and a half months ago and there are still eight and a half months before his Signing Day.

 

Bruce committed in July of 2014 on the same day that 2015 running back Jordan Scarlett announced his commitment to UM. Scarlett decommitted days before Signing Day and ended up in UF’s class.

Scarlett was at the spring scrimmage, and according to Alejandro Narciso of State of the U, Bruce said Scarlett has been in his ear to get him to flip but Bruce said “It's not gonna work though.”

Bruce was spectacular on the field, to no one’s surprise. He scored a 53-yard touchdown on a screen where he flat-out demoralized some of his teammates on defense with a juke in the open field.

One major beneficiary of all the Aquinas talent has been defending national champion Ohio State. With Hall of Fame receiver and former Buckeye Cris Carter so close to the Raiders, they’re creating a little bit of a pipeline and it doesn’t appear to be stopping any time soon.

OSU already has All-American Joey Bosa on the team and signed cornerback Damon Arnette last Signing Day.

Class of 2016 five-star defensive end Nick Bosa, while he won’t say much on his recruitment publicly, has been linked to Ohio State for obvious reasons – his brother.

In my exclusive interview with him, he says he continues to have a great relationship with OSU coaches but that he plans on taking two summer visits to a pair of in-state schools – Florida and Florida State. He has also told UM he is not interested in the Hurricanes and they have stopped recruiting him.

 

Another five-star, but in the Class of 2017, receiver Trevon Grimes lists Ohio State as his early front runner.

“They’re my leader. Definitely love everything about them,” says Grimes, who had a pair of touchdown receptions. “I love the great coaching staff, the atmosphere, the national champs.”

What makes Grimes so special is that he’s the deadly combination of a big receiver at 6-4 that also possesses the speed to be a deep threat.

Grimes says when he first got the five-star rating so young, he started to feel some pressure, but it brings the best out of him.

“Pressure just makes me stronger, makes me go harder,” Grimes says. “That pressure of the five-star pushed me to a little bit of a higher standard. I feel like I’ve excelled a lot since I earned that five-star.”

The Raiders don’t appear to be missing a beat at running back with Jordan Scarlett moving on to the Swamp. Devonta’e Henry-Cole scored two touchdowns in the scrimmage. He and James Charles will be a deadly tandem.

Cardinal Gibbons quarterback transfer Jake Allen was extremely precise in his passing and finding the bevy of weapons he has at his disposal. The St. Thomas offense will score a lot of points and score in a hurry with Allen running it.

I certainly came away impressed with the Raiders’ pair of highly-recruited 2018 cornerback prospects Benny Sapp and Asante Samuel. Both are very agile and athletic, and it’s clear why so many colleges are on them so early. 

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