May 14, 2015

Amir Rasul headlines strong senior class for Coral Gables

After Shaquery Wilson took his talents to Georgia and several other talented defensive prospects moved on, Coral Gables is looking strong with its senior class once again.

At the top of the list is running back Amir Rasul, who at 6-0, 192 pounds is a four-star recruit on most sites.

Rasul committed to UM in January and had his recruitment blow up since, gathering more than 20 offers from all over the country. Even USC has come all the way to the East Coast to visit Coral Gables and check on Rasul.

“He’s offered from coast to coast,” Coral Gables coach Roger Pollard said. “Every school in the nation has recognized his talent.”

With all the options that have opened up for Rasul, who is also an elite track talent and is spending the spring away from the football team running track, his commitment to the Canes should be considered a soft one. When asked, Pollard could not confirm how firm Rasul’s commitment is currently but said he will sit down with him when he rejoins the team in June.

While college coaches love Rasul’s track speed, they love even more that he runs like a football player with that speed.

 

Amir Rasul after a 195-yard, 4-TD performance against Coral Park last season. DAVID FURONES

“He doesn’t run like a track guy. He runs like a really fast running back, and I think that’s why so many people are really in love with him and what he can do for their program,” Pollard says. “People want home run hitters, and with the type of speed he possesses, he’s a home run hitter.”

Coral Gables’ trio of senior linebackers in Shakur Cooper, Gee Stanley and Robert Brown is one that will spearhead the Cavaliers’ defense and pick up some steam in the players’ recruitment in the fall.

Cooper, at 6-1, 210 pounds, is a four-year starter in Pollard’s defense. He was second-team all-state last season and recently received an offer from FAMU to add to a list that includes Appalachian State and Alcorn State.

“If he was 6-2, he’d be recruited by every school in the nation because his ability to rush the passer – you can ask anybody that’s played against us – he’s got a special knack, a lot of unteachable skill,” Pollard says. “Once that ball moves an inch, he moves two feet.”

Pollard plans on using Cooper, who goes by the nickname of “Pooh Bear,” all over the field his senior season and not restrict him to just outside linebacker.

Stanley (6-2, 200) has started since he was a sophomore and is a sideline-to-sideline outside linebacker who has also seen time at strong safety and lists offers from Alcorn State and Robert Morris since receiving an offer from Temple in the fall.

“He’s really quick in the box, quick with his feet and really knowledgeable in what offenses are trying to do against us,” Pollard says.

Brown (6-1, 195) is a South Miami transfer that Pollard describes as an “effort linebacker.”

“He’s going to run, he’s going to take you down,” Pollard says. “Wherever the ball is, he’s going to do whatever he can to get there.”

Alcorn State and Bryant University have offered Brown, but he’s also receiving interest from FIU and New Mexico.

“I don’t think there will be another linebacking corps with this talent. Usually you’ll have one stud, but with these three, pick your poison,” Pollard says. “If you block one, where’s the other?”

Quarterback Voshon Waiters currently lists one offer (FAMU), but Pollard expects his recruitment to heat up over the summer and in the fall once the season starts.

“I think with the numbers he’s going to put up this year, people are going to hit the brakes when they come by Coral Gables, and it’s not just for Amir Rasul,” Pollard says.

Pollard wants to take him to camps at FIU and FAU because he feels with how meticulously quarterbacks are recruited and offered college coaches need to see him in person.

He says Waiters has solid size at 6-1 to see over the line and runs the Cavaliers’ spread offense, which is very popular in college, to perfection for his unit.

May 12, 2015

Redwine ready to report to the U

**ALSO MAKE SURE TO CHECK SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN'S STORY FEATURING SHELDRICK REDWINE**

I had a chance to catch up with Sheldrick Redwine, the 6-1, 193-pound cornerback coming out of Miami Killian that will be enrolling at UM – which he has previously called his “dream school” – for the start of the Summer A session on Monday and moving in to campus on Sunday.

The offseason has not slowed Redwine down. He’s still working as if it’s South Dade week for the Killian Cougars.

“I’ve been doing two-a-days with my teammates,” says Redwine, the physical corner who also possesses the quickness of the feet and hips to keep up with speedy receivers. “We go to a gym, we get worked out by a trainer. Then we go [back home], eat and do field workouts. Then after that we’ll do lighter drills.”

From the K to the U

FROM THE K TO THE U: Sheldrick Redwine and Jaquan Johnson on Signing Day. DAVID FURONES

With high school teammate Jaquan Johnson already at UM since the spring, Redwine says he’s also been in contact with another pair of Dade County defensive backs – senior Deon Bush (Columbus) and junior Artie Burns (Northwestern).

“They’re just telling me how it is and what to expect from the DBs. Just to come in confident,” Redwine says. “[Johnson] says he likes it, he’s coming along. He’s learning the playbook and the game speed is starting to slow down for him.”

Redwine is coming in with the mindset that he wants to take his time learning during the summer but then seriously compete for playing time in the fall.

With UM’s deep, talented and experienced secondary, however, a redshirt could be a possibility.

Redwine says if that happens “I’ll just take it in stride, just practice hard every day, try to get better and earn my spot.”

Redwine was a Louisville commit very late in the recruiting process before announcing he was headed to Coral Gables instead with a Signing Day hat trick.

 

He let Louisville know what his move would be the day before.

“They were cool with it,” Redwine says of Louisville’s response.

Cane coaches’ reaction?

“They reacted great. They said they couldn’t wait. They were happy they could get me to flip.”

The dynamic Redwine finished his senior season with five interceptions — two returned for touchdowns — three forced fumbles, 33 tackles and four blocked kicks.

May 10, 2015

South Carolina tops Kenneth Ruff’s list

Dillard senior linebacker Kenneth Ruff’s recruitment is starting to heat up in the spring.

The 240-pound three-star 2016 middle linebacker, who is versatile in the Panthers’ defense also playing outside linebacker and defensive end,  has recently added offers from Virginia, South Carolina, Florida State and Oregon State.

He lists South Carolina as his leader right now and looks to take five visits over the summer. The Gamecocks will certainly get one of them, but he is yet to schedule a date for it.

“We run the same defense as South Carolina, so it would be a smooth transition going into the next level,” says Ruff, who has been recruited by linebackers coach Kirk Botkin.

 

Both Dillard and South Carolina run a 4-3 defense and USC wants to use Ruff, who already has the frame of a college linebacker, in the middle.

Ruff wants to make his commitment in August and then stick to it so that his recruitment doesn’t become a distraction during his senior season.

“I feel like whatever school you commit to, you should be solid to that commitment. There’s no reason to commit and then decommit, so I will be solid to whoever I commit to,” Ruff says. “It’s all hype. That’s like lying pretty much.”

On the inevitable recruiting from other schools after he commits, Ruff says, “I’ll listen, but I’ll still be solid to whatever school I choose.”

After South Carolina, Ruff lists Florida State, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi State -- in that order. Of those schools, FSU is the only one to offer, but he’s received significant interest from the others.

Miami has also shown interest. Ruff says academics are important to him in college, and that has been one of FSU’s primary pitches to him.

Ruff says goals he has going into his senior season are to reach 115 tackles in the season, reach states and one-up his interception total of two last year to record three.

May 08, 2015

Recruiting Recap: McWilliams commits to UF, local 2018 recruits get offers

Hello fans of high school football and recruiting in South Florida, one of the nation's elite recruiting hotbeds.

My name is David Furones, and a lot of you may already be familiar with my work with the Miami Herald, helping cover high school sports, as well as filling in with coverage of the University of Miami among other things.

I'm proud to announce I am now the Herald's lead recruiting correspondent and will update this blog regularly with recruiting news and nuggets. What better time to get started than in the middle of spring football for these high school programs?

OK, maybe August, but anyway...

Coaches across the country have been hot on the recruiting trail (I'll try to refrain from constant use of such clichés in the future), offering scholarships left and right. Some of these prospects haven't even entered their high school freshman year, but we'll have more on that later.

The biggest news in the past week came from Southwest Miami High where 2016 DB Christopher "C.J." McWilliams announced on Sunday he has orally committed to the Florida Gators.

CJ McWilliams UF commitMcWilliams took the announcement to Twitter on Sunday after receiving the offer from Randy Shannon on May 1.

The rising senior, who transferred from Varela after his sophomore season, is a bit under the radar -- FAU was his only other offer and Rivals currently lists him as a two-star recruit -- but he is sure collect several more offers as the season approaches after bursting on the scene with the UF offer.

He's athletic in the secondary and will hit a receiver coming over the middle hard from the safety position (the first play on his junior highlight reel shows him getting flagged for an illegal hit). He also possesses great straight-line speed as evidenced by his offensive highlights where he easily accelerates into a second gear to distance himself from opposing defenders on several catch-and-runs.

While the Gators are looking for immediate help in the secondary, UM is looking to the future. On Tuesday a pair of 2018 defensive backs from St. Thomas Aquinas, Benny Sapp and Asante Samuel Jr. received offers from UM.

Offers began flowing in for the two after that. Sapp announced on Twitter he has been offered by Purdue, Cincinnati, West Virginia, UCF while Samuel has since been offered by Purdue and WVU.

Class of 2018 Coconut Creek cornerback Miguel Edwards and 2017 athlete out of Somerset Academy, Daewood Davis, also got UM offers on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. It's Edwards' first collegiate offer and Davis' eighth.

As Miami continues to try and build its 2018 class, other schools are going after its first commitment in the class of rising sophomores. Legacy Cane commit and University School cornerback Al Blades Jr. has recently received offers from WVU and Rutgers. He also already lists offers from South Carolina and LSU.

 

April 23, 2015

Tillman expects second go-round as Booker T. Washington's football coach to go smoother

By MANNY NAVARRO
mnavarro@MiamiHerald.com

The first time Earl Tillman took over as head coach at Booker T. Washington for a member of the Ice Harris family things didn't go quite as planned.

Not only did the Tornadoes slip, so did Tillman.

A broken left tibia and fibula sustained breaking up a fight at a summer 7-on-7 game resulted in five surgeries over the next three years and consequently sidelined him while the Tornadoes went from state champions in 2007 to getting knocked out of the playoffs a round earlier each year.

The 44-year-old math and engineering teacher is expecting his second shot at being in charge of one of the nation's premier high school football programs will pan out much better.

Selected by school athletic director Hector Gray as Tim Harris' Jr. successor at the beginning of this month, Tillman spoke to The Miami Herald Thursday for the first time since getting his old job back and said he's ready to keep the Tornadoes rolling.

"I just felt like I was long overdue to have another opportunity," said Tillman, who went 28-8 his first three years as head coach at Booker T. from 2008 to 2010 and then stepped down to allow Ice Harris to retake the reigns.

"The first time around I wasn't at the best of health. When the opportunity presented itself and Coach Harris came back I was willing to step down and let him run the program as long as I was a part of the program. Since then, the program has been pretty successful.

"I wanted to make sure it continues. Being that I had the most experience of the guys that were still left here when [Tim Jr. left to become running backs coach at FIU in February], I just felt like I owed it to myself to make a push for it. My health is better. The guys that were here know what it takes. And we're going to keep it going."

The Tornadoes, who own the state's longest-active winning streak at 41 games, went a combined 96-10 under Harris Sr. and then 14-0 this past season with Tim Jr. at the helm after Harris Sr. joined Al Golden's coaching staff at the University of Miami following the 2013 season.

Gray said the decision to hire Tillman was made "following an extensive, national search." Gray said he received resumes and calls from coaches as far west as Nebraska and Texas and he interviewed seven to 10 candidates. He said Tillman was the best interview and the most qualified.

The Tornadoes open the 2015 season at defending Class 7A state champion St. Thomas Aquinas on the night of August 28. Tillman said the school is still working on trying to setup games with powers from Texas and New Jersey.

He said he has 11 assistant coaches returning and only four from last year's team including Tim Harris Jr. and defensive line coach Pierre Senatus (named Miramar's head coach) are gone.

"Torrance Moise, our old quarterback here when I was the coach, has come back from college and will be our quarterback's coach," Tillman said. "We've also brought back Benedict Hyppolite, who was with us in 2013, but spent last year at Edison. He'll be our new offensive coordinator. And we've added Torrance Snelling, who played at Northwestern. He'll be our defensive line coach."

Tillman, who spent the last few years as associate head coach and offensive line coach, said his toughest task will be replacing himself "as the eye in the sky up in the press box" during games.

"We know the expectations are going to be high," Tillman said. "We've been to four straight state championship games. That's a big expectation we've built. But we're not going to settle for anything less."

April 22, 2015

February 12, 2015

Coaching Carousel: Smith goes from Coral Park to Hialeah; University School, Chaminade looking

Hialeah High has a new football coach -- it's former football coach.

Steve Smith, who spent two years coaching the T-Breds back in 2004 and 2005, has left Coral Park after one season to replace the coach who replaced him at Hialeah nine years ago, Marc Berman.

Smith, who has a career 31-38 record with a two-year pit-stop at Killian included, accepted the job last Thursday according to athletic director Len Sanders. Smith went 1-9 at Coral Park last year.

Berman, 52, went 46-34 during his nine years on the job at Hileah and led the T-Breds to the playoffs twice in 2011 and 2013. He's stepping aside from football for a year to deal with health issues.

"Overall for the kids it’s going to be better," Sanders said of bringing Smith back. "He’s a strict disciplinarian and I think that's what we need right now. The players have no idea what they are in for.

"[San Diego Chargers defensive lineman and former Hialeah High star] Corey Liuget is a big backer of Coach Smith. He played three years for him here. Once you go to the NFL you see how things are different, how you need that discipline. He really appreciates Coach Smith. Same with [Dolphins running back] Lamar Miller over at Killian, who played for Smith too."

Sanders said Liuget has pledged upwards of $30,000 to help renovate Hialeah's weight room. There's no timetable yet as to when the fixes will take place.

As for Berman, he remains a teacher at Hialeah. He said his plan is to get back to coaching in a year. He said he had a health scare during the middle of last season and that's when he decided he needed a break from coaching.

“Honestly, I’m going crazy right now," Berman said of being away from the game. "It’s something that for 31 years that’s all I’ve ever done. It’s something new. But I have four grandchildren and I spend a lot of time with them. So that's something I'm looking forward to.”

The T-Breds had 20 seniors sign with Football Bowl Subdivision programs during Berman's tenure including six in 2014.

"Coach Berman did a good job with that," Sanders said. "Whether we win games, I don’t really care. As long as the players learn to become young men and disciplined. Getting them in school and prepared for what's ahead, that's what's important."

U-SCHOOL, CHAMINADE LOOKING FOR COACHES

According to classifieds placed on the FHSAA's website earlier this week, former Broward County private school powers and state champions Chaminade-Madonna Prep and University School are looking for head coaches.

Marcelo Rodriguez, still listed as the athletic director at Chaminade, went 7-12 in two years as the head coach. His son Marcelo, who has quarterbacked the Lions each of the last two seasons and is a Class of 2017 prospect, has transferred to Miami High. 

University School, meanwhile, is looking for its second head coach in less than 12 months. The school hired Brandon Harris a year ago to replace Roger Harriott, who left to become an assistant coach at FAU after leading the Suns to the Class 3A state title in 2012. Harris went 3-7 this past season and the Suns missed the playoffs.

Phone calls to athletic directors and coaches at both schools were not immediately returned.

OPENINGS STILL AVAILABLE

Mater Academy, Coral Park, Westland Hialeah and Hialeah Champagnat are among the schools still searching for head coaches in Miami-Dade County.

National powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas remains among a handful of schools in Broward still looking to fill vacancies.

Monarch coach Calvin Davis stepped down earlier this week. The Knights went 9-2 last season and won their district for their first time ever. Davis, 36, was 26-8 in four seasons at Monarch.

February 06, 2015

February 02, 2015

Dade-Broward Top 150 recruits in class of 2015

A look at where the Top 150 recruits in Dade and Broward stand. (Note: Rankings are based on 247Sports Composite rankings which take into account all major recruiting services).

Updated at noon Friday, Feb. 6. (Constantly updating with news)

Dade-Broward 2015 Recruiting Rankings      
Name Pos School HT WT College choice
1. Calvin Ridley WR Monarch 6'1 170 Alabama
2. Tarvarus McFadden CB Am. Heritage 6'2 198 FSU
3. Torrance Gibson QB Am. Heritage 6'4 204 Ohio State
4. Mark Walton RB Booker T. 5'10 179 Miami
5. Da'Vante Phillips WR Central 6'2 204 FSU (EE)
6. Jordan Scarlett RB Aquinas 5'11 222 Florida
7. Jovon Durante WR Miramar 6'0 162 West Virginia
8. Tyrek Cole CB Miramar 6'0 170 West Virginia
9. Shawn Burgess-Becker ATH Monarch 6'1 185 Alabama
10. Devonaire Clarington TE Booker T. 6'5 238 Texas
11. Jaquan Johnson S Killian 5'10 182 Miami (EE)
12. Jordan Cronkrite RB Westminster Chr. 5'11 198 Florida
13. Tim Irvin ATH Westminster Chr. 5'9 194 Auburn (EE)
14. Sh'Mar Kilby-Lane OLB Hallandale 6'1 209 FSU
15. Davante Davis CB Booker T. 6'3 200 Texas
16. Calvin Brewton S Central 6'0 172 FSU (EE)
17. Kendrell McFadden S Miramar 6'4 193 Undecided
18. Carlton Davis CB Norland 6'2 184 Auburn
19. Devante Peete WR Aquinas 6'6 195 Louisville
20. Antonio Callaway WR Booker T. 5'11 185 Florida
21. Jason Strowbridge DE Deerfield Beach 6'4 247 North Carollina
22. Rashard Causey CB Aquinas 6'0 185 UCF
23. Shaquery Wilson ATH Coral Gables 6'3 190 West Virginia
24. Steven Claude WR Champagnat 6'1 182 Wake Forest
25. Khalid McGee S Northwestern 5'10 185 USF
26. Emonee Spence WR Flanagan 6'2 181 Louisville
27. Damon Arnette CB Aquinas 6'2 185 Ohio State
28. Deandre Baker CB Northwestern 5'10 173 Georgia
29. Juwan Taylor LB Hallandale 6'2 200 Georgia
30. Dominic Sheppard OLB Gulliver Prep 6'2 225 Virginia
31. Chris Hart DE Aquinas 6'3 242 Utah
32. Sheldrick Redwine CB Killian 6'1 183 Miami
33. Richard McIntosh DE Gibbons 6'4 270 Miami
34. Trevon Sands ATH Southwest 5'11 181 USF
35. Leeward Brown G Miramar 6'3 338 Tulane
36. Kahlil Lewis WR Miramar 6'0 179 Cincinnati
37. Ronnie Hoggins CB Monarch 5'10 175 USF
38. Rashad Fenton CB Carol City 5'11 175 South Carolina
39. Andrew James WR Westminster Ac. 5'11 162 Wisconsin
40. Alex Anderson RB Miramar 6'0 184 Undecided
41. Wyatt Ray DE Aquinas 6'4 240 Boston College
42. Tyson Cisrow S Aquinas 5'11 185 Utah
43. Malik Henderson CB Hallandale 6'1 175 Pittsburgh (EE)
44. Therrell Gosier WR Blanche Ely 6'6 200 Kentucky
45. Adrienne Talan S Flanagan 6'1 195 Nebraska
46. Deundre Pickett-White WR Southwest 6'0 193 Alcorn State
47. Kevin Williams CB Blanche Ely 6'1 179 West Virginia
48. Brandon Boyce DT Aquinas 6'0 245 Duke
49. Deltron Sands RB Aquinas 5'9 180 Oregon State
50. Keivonnis Davis DE Central 6'4 227 Florida
51. Richerd Desir-Jones DT Aquinas 6'4 285 Florida
52. Marvin Robinson WR Stranahan 6'4 175 Undecided
53. Jalin LeAndre CB Hallandale 6'0 187 Valparaiso
54. Christian Strachan OG Champagnat 6'3 315 Undecided
55. Fermin Silva OLB Central 6'2 225 FIU (EE)
56. Rodrick Archer S South Plantation 6'0 184 FAU
57. Bruce Davis OLB Killian 6'1 200 Fort Scott (Kan.)
58. Taj McGowan RB Hallandale 6'1 192 UCF (EE)
59. Kadeem Goulbourne WR Cypress Bay 6'4 200 Western Michigan
60. James Gardner WR Fort Lauderdale 6'4 190 Miami of Ohio
61. Ryan Stanley QB Flanagan 6'2 186 Florida A&M
62. Gerald Robinson CB Champagnat 5'10 175 FAU
63. Robert Knowles S Miami Edison 6'1 185 Miami
64. Kirk Livingstone DE Stranahan 6'4 235 South Florida
65. Andrew Spence CB Coral Gables 6'2 180 Undecided
66. Anthony Jones WR Central 6'0 185 FIU (EE)
67. Samuel Clausman OG Aquinas 6'4 301 Syracuse
68. Ocie Rose S Booker T. 6'2 190 FAU
69. Antonio Howard CB HML 5'10 157 Marshall
70. Jeremiah Dinson CB American 6'0 180 Auburn
71. Antonyo Sotolongo S Gulliver Prep 6'0 197 Bowling Green
72. Dana Levine DE Hallandale 6'3 230 Temple
73. Tavaris Harrison WR North Miami 6'3 170 FAU
74. Jordan Herrera WR Miami Killian 5'10 160 West Hills College
75. Doyle Grimes OLB South Dade 6'2 200 Marshall
76. Jhavonte Dean CB South Dade 6'1 168 Cincinnati
77. Richie Kittles S Stranahan 5'10 173 FAU
78. Malik Wisdom CB McArthur 5'9 180 Undecided
79. Joe Riggins OLB Gibbons 6'2 205 Akron
80. Irick McDonald OLB Miami Springs 6'3 190 FIU
81. Michael Fredrick RB Champagnat 5'11 170 South Dakota
82. Christian Irving S Am. Heritage 5'11 195 Wyoming
83. Emmanuel Lubin CB North Miami Beach 6'1 170 FIU
84. Rayshad Jackson OLB Norland 6'2 215 Florida
85. Marquis Couch OLB Central 6'0 200 Marshall
86. Frank Battle WR Belen Jesuit 6'5 180 Connecticut
87. Cedric Wiggins S North Miami Beach 6'0 185 Undecided
88. Herbert Miller S Miramar 6'2 180 FAU
89. Korron Rozier WR Coconut Creek 5'11 182 Undecided
90. Shawn Curtis OLB Ronald Reagan 6'3 230 Mississippi
91. Colin Byrne OG Aquinas 6'5 300 Syracuse
92. C.J. Maybin S Gibbons 6'4 195 East Carolina
93. James King OLB Booker T. 6'1 200 Miami
94. Jawaun Harris WR Aquinas 5'10 185 Rutgers
95. Sage Lewis OLB Monsignor Pace 6'1 210 FIU
96. Richie Cooper WR Hallandale 5'11 178 Akron
97. Melliek Jackson S Champagnat 5'11 180 Georgia State
98. Cameron Campbell C Flanagan 6'3 270 USF
99. Maurice Alexander QB Booker T. 5'11 170 FIU
100. Jeffrey Hill CB Miramar 5'9 165 Northern Illinois
101. Sam Dervil OT Northwestern 6'5 278 S. Carolina State
102. Paris Manyou CB Champagnat 5'10 168 Undecided
103. Austin Maloney WR Columbus 5'11 174 FIU
104. Emilio Gibbs ILB Coral Gables 6'0 230 Florida A&M
105. Rodney Newkirk DT Blanche Ely 6'2 305 Undecided
106. D'Andre Smart CB Norland 5'11 180 Kent State
107. Montel Jordan OT Deerfield Beach 6'4 315 Akron
108. Deonta Fair S Am. Heritage 6'0 175 Monmouth
109. Richard Williams OG Everglades 6'3 275 FAU
110. Wade Collier RB Homestead 5'8 180 Undecided
111. Aaron Kinsey DE Northwestern 6'4 225 Massachusetts
112. Janarvis Pough ATH Am. Heritage 6'0 170 Bowling Green
113. Raymond Gage WR Keys Gate Charter 5'10 175 FIU
114. Olin Cushion CB Central 5'8 153 FIU
115. Micah Smith OT Westminster Ac. 6'6 260 Georgetown
116. Wayne Clarington DE Champagnat 6'4 230 Undecided
117. Jason Jean OG Central 6'2 275 Marshall
118. Cedric Miller RB Central 6'0 190 Jackonsville St.
119. Lesley Dalger WR Westminster Ac. 6'5 205 Air Force
120. James Oliphant CB Aquinas 5'9 155 Massachusetts
121. Lance Deveaux S Aquinas 6'0 185 Northern Illinois
122. James Bowe LB Miami Killian 6'2 195 Massachusetts
123. Travis Liburd RB Piper 5'6 170 Stony Brook
124. Keavon Mitchell WR Flanagan 5'11 175 FAMU
125. Jared McGahee DT Northwestern 6'1 250 Monmouth
126. Anthony Flory LB Am. Heritage 6'2 225 Appalachain St.
127. Jontavis Testa LB Coral Gables 5'11 190 Arkansas Pine-Bluff
128. Karon Jackson DB American 5'8 165 Eastern Illinois
129. Steve Durosier S American 5'11 195 SE Missouri St.
130. Tavares Moore Jr. DB Gibbons 5'10 165 Tennessee State
131. Jonathon Washington WR Gibbons 6'0 190 Northern Michigan
132. Walt Jackson WR Flanagan 6'0 185 Lindenwood
133. Demetrius Whitehead DB Hallandale 5'10 180 Alcorn State
134. Jamari Hester TE Central 6'6 210 Jacksonville State
135. Theodore Victorin OL Hallandale 6'0 260 Stillman College
136. Deondre Tyler OL Hallandale 6'4 320 Undecided
137. Roberto Montanez OL Monarch 6'3 270 West Florida
138. Darnell Brown DL Flanagan 5'9 250 Lindenwood
139. Jihad Muhammad WR Stranahan 6'2 170 West Florida
140. Robzel Sylvester OL Central 6'1 350 Arkansas Pine-Bluff
141. Roe Farris Jr. ATH C. Springs Charter 6'1 170 Wagner
142. Anthony Olivencia WR Killian 6'2 175 Marist
143. Vaquan Small WR Booker T. 6'3 170 Samford
144. Julian McCleod DT Aquinas 6'2 225 Undecided
145. Jason Collins QB Dillard 6'0 170 Howard
146. Dwayne Paddyfoot LB Mater Academy 6'3 215 Concord
147. George Grimwade OL Gulliver Prep 6'7 275 Samford
148. Robert Foy WR Flanagan 5'8 190 Florida Tech
149. Ellex Davis WR Monarch 5'7 154 Undecided
150. Nick Peart DB Am. Heritage 5'8 180 Dartmouth

Two of Broward's smallest stars -- Piper's Liburd, Dillard's Bouie -- taking own route to the next level

By MANNY NAVARRO
mnavarro@MiamiHerald.com

Broward County leading rusher Travis Liburd never had any illusions about himself as a football recruit entering his senior season.

At 5-6, 170 pounds, he knew it was going to take more than a great senior season at Piper to get one of the 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country to take a chance on him. Akron and Ohio University showed interest, but in the end neither was willing to dish out a concrete scholarship offer.

So on Wednesday, when dozens of three, four and five-star recruits in South Florida who played alongside Liburd in the Miami Dolphins All-Star Game sign with big name schools in front of throngs of media, the two-star recruit and All-Broward First Team selection will quietly do his own thing in front of a much smaller audience at school.

He’s signing with Stony Brook, a Football Championship Subdivision program in Long Island, N.Y., where it was snowing so hard this past weekend during Liburd’s official visit he said he “barely saw the ground.” Being relegated to college football’s second tier might feel like an underachievement to some, but not Liburd. To him it’s just another avenue to success.

“It’s a great team for me because they run the ball a lot,” said Liburd, who ran for over 4,100 yards and 36 touchdowns in three years for Piper despite being the only weapon on a losing team and seeing many eight and nine man fronts. “I’ve already got my major – electrical engineering – and everything. And there’s opportunity to get on the field as a freshman, especially on kickoffs.”

Special teams is usually where the smallest guys in college and pro football make their money. Liburd, clocked at 4.35 in the 40-yard dash according to his coach, ran back eight kickoffs for touchdowns as a junior. “He didn’t have any as a senior because no one would kick him the ball,” his coach Roger Mitchell said.

Said Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services: “Liburd’s a little pocket rocket. He’s not elite, but he’s in that second or third group locally if you’re talking about production and what he does. You’re telling me there’s 120-something D-1 schools and none can use a kid like that?”

Size is ultimately what scared BCS programs off, Mitchell said. The numbers certainly support the claim.

According to Rivals.com’s recruiting database, a total of 221 players listed as being 5-feet, 7-inches or shorter have signed with Football Bowl Subdivision (126) or Football Championship Subdivision schools (95) since 2002. That averages out to a little less than 16 scholarships a year across Division 1 football being given nationwide to players of that height (nine to FBS programs and a little less than seven to FCS schools). Of that group, 60 scholarships have been awarded to players listed 5-6 or shorter including only eight listed at 5-5 or shorter.

Most are running backs (122) or listed as athletes (42) or receivers (27). Dolphins Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes, listed at 5-6, 180 pounds coming out of high school in Louisiana, is among that group. He was a two-star recruit who signed with Central Arkansas.

His success story – like that of Eagles Pro Bowl running back Darren Sproles (5-6, 190) – give Liburd and other small guys like Dillard linebacker/safety Christian Bouie hope.

Bouie (5-7, 160) led Dillard in tackles two years in a row and was “blowing receivers up in the secondary at the Dolphins All-Star Game,” Mitchell said. But he also couldn’t get any FBS schools to bite and offer him a scholarship.

Dillard coach Lorenzo Davis said he expects Bouie to sign with Division II Stillman College (Ala.) on Wednesday. According to Rivals, only 25 defensive backs and one linebacker listed at 5-7 or shorter have signed with Division 1 schools since 2002.

“Three inches taller and everybody in the country is after him,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, when you’re making $200,000 to $300,000 a year as a college assistant and your job is on the line every year you can’t take that chance because if the guy doesn’t pan out the boss will be looking at you and saying ‘Well, you knew he was too small.’ I was really trying to get FIU and FAU to look at him. I just couldn’t get him a shot.”

Bouie, who has a 3.4 GPA, says he’ll take the shot wherever he gets it. Stillman, by the way, had eight players on its roster last season listed at 5-7 or shorter.

“You can measure my height, but you can’t measure my heart,” Bouie said.

Said Mitchell: “Like I told Travis, put that chip on your shoulder and just turn and look at it every time before you get the ball. Show them what they missed every day.”

LOCAL PLAYERS 5-7 OR SHORTER TO SIGN WITH D-1 (FBS/FCS) SCHOOLS SINCE 2002
RB Dareyon Chance, Cardinal Gibbons, 5-5, 175, 3-star (Western Michigan, 2010)
WR Derrick Hopkins, Monsignor Pace, 5-6, 160, 2-star (USF, 2009)
RB Krondis Larry, Booker T. Washington, 5-6, 160, 2-star (FCS Samford, 2014)
DB Terry Jefferson, Booker T. Washington, 5-7, 170, 2-stars (FCS Monmouth, 2014)
WR Jarius Brown, University School, 5-7, 172, 2-stars (FCS Dartmouth, 2014)
ATH Franklin Labady, Champagnat, 5-7, 180, 3-stars (Cincinnati, 2014)
DB Nico Marley, Cypress Bay, 5-7, 182, 2-stars (Tulane, 2013)
RB Darius Hoggins, Monarch, 5-7, 156, 2-stars (Louisiana-Lafayette, 2013)
RB Jared Sanders, Hallandale, 5-7, 165, 2-stars (Eastern Kentucky, 2012)
RB Orville Reynolds, Douglas, 5-7, 175, 3-stars (Wake Forest, 2011)
ATH Ronnie Kennedy, Plantation, 5-7, 147, 3-stars (Central Michigan, 2009)
WR Brandon Drayton, Northwestern, 5-7, 156, 0-stars (FCS Howard, 2008)
WR Tim Brown, Northwestern, 5-7, 146, 3-stars (Rutgers, 2006)
RB Jovens Degage, North Miami, 5-7, 180, 2-stars (Ball State, 2004)
RB Jerry Seymour, Monsignor Pace, 5-7, 183, 2-stars (Central Michigan, 2003)