May 24, 2015

Dirty Birds soaring: News and notes from Flanagan

**I also wrote a story for the paper on both the St. Thomas Aquinas and Flanagan scrimmages. Click here.**

Devin BushNow for some additional notes from the Flanagan scrimmage…

The Falcons hosted several coaches from the likes of UM, Virginia Tech, Georgia and Middle Tennessee and put their athletes on display for the coaches with various 11-on-11 scenarios and then split into one-on-one drills. Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was also present.

Four-star inside linebacker Devin Bush Jr. (pictured to the left doing the Dirty Bird) certainly has the ideal combination of size and athleticism to excel at the next level.

Another asset he possesses, but that you can’t see on film and need to catch him live to witness is his leadership. He’s the unquestioned quarterback of that defense, leads the stretches and you can just tell when he talks others listen.

Both linebacker/safety Devin Gil (hand) and cornerback Stanford Samuels (knee) were held out of the scrimmage, but when they return for the Falcons, the Dirty Birds defense is going to be something to watch.

Samuels, a 2017 four-star uncommitted recruit, currently lists a top five of Florida State, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and Alabama.

Here’s everything Samuels, who is the son of the former FSU cornerback that went by the same name, told me in an exclusive interview with the Miami Herald:

 

Gil, a senior three-star UM commit, had Miami defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio and linebackers coach Hurlie Brown attend the scrimmage.

“It’s great. I like to see them around. I’ll be seeing them in the future, but it’s nice to see that they’re still interested, still coming down and showing love.”

Gil says his commitment to the Canes stands firm, and right now the other schools still pursuing him are Michigan, Louisville and UCF. He’ll visit the Wolverines in June.

Gil says he grew up a Hurricane fan, especially a fan of Ed Reed and Sean Taylor.

Bush Jr., although he’s heavily linked to FSU because father and Flanagan coach Devin Bush played for the Seminoles, he’s hearing it from Gil every day trying to get Bush Jr. on board with the Canes.

“That’s my brother, so wherever he goes, I’m going to be happy with it,” Gil says. “As long as he thinks it’s a great fit for him, I think it’s a great fit for him.”

If they end up at rival schools?

“I might have to hit him every play then.” 

But they’ll both be playing defense…

“I’ll ask Coach to go on offense.”

--Quarterback transfer from Champagnat Kato Nelson did what we’re used to seeing out of him in big games with Champagnat, except in a different uniform. Nelson was poised in the pocket, delivered passes with precision and proved mobile when necessary.

--I came away impressed with 2017 wide receiver Clevan Thomas in one-on-one drills. He was professional in his route-running and cuts, exhibited a burst of acceleration to get open and displayed sure hands.

--2017 athlete Faion Hicks can develop into a really good cover corner. He was blanketing receivers in one-on-one coverage.

--Rising senior Tyler Goetz is listed as a linebacker on certain sites, but he played fullback and tight end in 11-on-11 and gave Nelson a big target with the ability to get open, especially over the middle and in the red zone.

--Lastly, 2017 offensive tackle Jamar Lambert is HUGE (6-3, 350). Interest and offers have to start coming in for this kid with ideal size once he hones in on his technique.

May 23, 2015

Rockets fully loaded: Extra Miami Central spring/recruiting notes

Keir Thomas**I wrote a feature on Central both in the paper and online. Make sure you check that out as well. You should also check out Bill Daley's write-up on Columbus' win over St. Pete Lakewood.**

Here are a few more notes I came away with from the Rockets’ Green and White Game on Saturday.

--That defense is to be feared! Half of the guys on the starting unit already look like they’re in college. Donavan Thompson, Keir Thomas (pictured to the left) and Eric Mitchell are absolutely fierce. Mitchell, came off the edge unblocked and drilled quarterback Anthony “Mo” Hasan so hard I was concerned for Mo’s health. He turned out to be OK; he's a tough kid.

--Regarding four-star receiver Darnell Salomon, he broke down for me why he liked each of his top five.

Oregon: “Oregon has that fast-pace offense, spread team. Great for a receiver like me.” Darnell Salomon

Oklahoma: “I’m great with the receivers coach [Dennis Simmons]. We’ve got a bond. I talk to him like every week.”

Texas: “They throw the ball 40 times a game.”

Alabama: “Always been a fan of them.”

FSU: “They’re starting all their freshmen receivers and they become big time, so that’s great.”

Salomon (pictured to the right) added Miami is also recruiting him hard and he talks to running backs coach Tim “Ice” Harris every two weeks. He says the Hurricanes would be next if he extended his top to six.

Thompson, a three-star middle linebacker at 5-10, 220 says no one is ahead between Arkansas, Oregon State and USF, but he does say former Central coach Telly Lockette being an assistant at Oregon State gives the Beavers an advantage.

“He kind of knows me, kind of knows my weaknesses, and if I go up there, he can basically keep an eye on me and tell me how it is instead of sugar-coating it,” Thompson said.

Like I mention in my story, Waynmon Steed told me UM coaches have said he reminds them of Sean Spence.

“I want to start my own legacy, but to be compared to Sean Spence, that’s a good comparison. I don’t mind it.”

About being committed to the hometown team, Steed, who also has offers from FAU and Texas-San Antonio says, “It’s a great thing. [I’ve] got to represent 305. My family is a big fan of Miami and I just get to stay home.”

While committed, Steed adds that he’s still open as more offers begin to come in.

Jamel Cook calls himself 100-percent committed to FSU but still wants to enjoy the recruiting process and take his visits – Alabama, Auburn, Louisville, UM, FSU are in the mix for visits from him.

He likes the family atmosphere at FSU with former teammates Dalvin Cook, DaVante Phillips and Calvin Brewton all up there.

“With me going up there, there’s just family. I have people that push me to work hard, stay behind me and push me to do what’s right,” Cook says.

Another Cook, James, who is an eighth grader now and rising freshman that will be enrolling at Central in August, already has hype surrounding him. That’s because he’s Dalvin Cook’s little brother. I’m certainly excited to see what he can do once the season starts as he’s already receiving recruiting interest from major programs.

May 22, 2015

Marco Wilson nearly breaks Twitter with backflip catch

Marco Wilson, 2017 four-star cornerback out of Plantation American Heritage, posted a video on social media of himself making a ridiculous one-handed catch while backflipping.

Wilson currently holds 11 scholarship offers as he heads into his junior year and is the younger brother to current Florida Gator Quincy Wilson.

The Odell Beckham-esque catch had 445 retweets and 440 favorites within two hours of getting posted and sparked a campaign to get it on ESPN's SportsCenter.

May 21, 2015

Greg Simmons lists himself as "medium" UM commit



Greg SimmonsUniversity of Miami 2016 commit and Fort Pierce Central linebacker Greg Simmons was at the Coconut Creek-South Dade spring game on Wednesday night and in an exclusive interview with me listed himself as a “medium” commit.

In the growing world of football recruit commitment levels, Simmons describes a medium commit as between soft and solid, so not as shaky as a soft commit but not as firm as a solid commit.

Another school really making an impression on Simmons, the 6-2, 221-pounder who plays both middle and outside linebacker on top of defensive end for his high school team, is Nebraska.

“Nebraska’s hitting hard. That’s probably one of the hardest that are recruiting me,” Simmons says. “They say my chances of playing early are real. I just take that in consideration. They only have two linebacker commits and they’re both outside, so they want me to join bad.

“When I take all five of my visits, if I like it, I like it. Anything can happen.”

Simmons spoke on what made him want to commit to the Canes in February.

“It was a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” he says. “When you grow older, your mind starts to change, but I still love Miami with all my heart.”

Simmons grew up a “huge” Hurricanes fan, dating back to watching Sean Spence and Graig Cooper when he was younger.

He says he’s being recruited by linebackers coach Hurlie Brown and describes him as “a pops figure to me and a linebacker coach I’d like to play for.”

While Brown is like a father figure to Simmons, he is motivated to excel in football because he wants to do it for his real father. He says his dad could’ve been an NFL talent, but during college, he had to go back home to take care of his mother, who was ill at the time, and cut his career short.

Other schools creeping in for Simmons’ services are Michigan, Maryland, West Virginia and Oklahoma.

Simmons sees himself making a final decision sometime between the end of his senior season and Signing Day 2016.

Cypress Bay's Andrew Parchment commits to Cincinnati

 

Cypress Bay Class of 2016 wide receiver Andrew Parchment announced he was committing to the Cincinnati Bearcats on Wednesday night.

The three-star prospect held an announcement party with about 30 friends and family present at a Chili's in Miramar and then also posted his decision on Twitter.

The announcement came a day after he had decided on a top three of Cincinnati, USF and Syracuse. The latter two have started showing interest recently.

"My commitment is solid with Cincinnati," says the 6-4 Parchment. "If other schools come in, I'll cross that bridge at a later time. As of right now, I'm all Cincy."

Teammate and rising senior cornerback Darrell Malone, who is good friends with Parchment, was close to committing to Cincy along with Parchment Wednesday, but added interest from Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Indiana after Cypress Bay's spring scrimmage Tuesday had him hold off on a decision.

Binjimen Victor, Trayvon Mullen shine as Coconut Creek beats South Dade in Spring Game

Coconut Creek hosted its spring game against South Dade and anyone who’s anyone in college football had a coach at the game.

More than 20 college football programs were represented. A full list of schools I saw watching the action is listed at the bottom of the post.

When a team has a pair of highly-sought-after four-star rising seniors like cornerback Trayvon Mullen and wide receiver Binjimen Victor, you can understand why there were so many followers.

With Victor scoring twice and Mullen scoring another touchdown, the Cougars’ stars shined as Coconut Creek took the exhibition against South Dade 21-14.

Victor was phenomenal in one-on-one situations. It was clear it was going to be difficult for South Dade to cover him from the start, especially with top Bucs recruit James Wiggins, a UM commit, held out of the game.

IMG_1947Victor went to fade routes again and again and it was simply too easy for the 6-4 receiver to go up and get the ball over smaller defenders. Both his touchdowns came in the second half.

Mullen (pictured to the left) was in shutdown corner mode. Whatever receiver he was matched up against didn’t stand a chance of getting open. He’s too quick, long and turns his hips like the elite cover corner he is.

Mullen made a spectacular touchdown catch on the final play of the first half after quarterback Jhakari Harrison threw a backward pass to Malek Young, who then launched it more than 50 yards to a diving Mullen in the end zone.

Young, a Georgia three-star DB commit in the Class of 2016, also had a fumble recovery and was active on defense.

Another rising senior, DB/LB Alexy Jean-Baptiste showed a nose for the ball and tenacity in tackling as did 2017 DB Kobe Green.

2017 defensive end Lashawn Paulino has a very impressive frame to grow into at 6-4 and 220 pounds and certainly looks the part of the prototype end in college. He lists a Temple offer and is sure to add more very soon.

Here’s everything Mullen and Victor were talking about after the game. Both are wide open in their recruitment with offers from essentially every program in the nation.

  

 

While most of the college coaches showed up to see Creek’s stars and Wiggins out for South Dade, they still had to come away impressed with several South Dade prospects, especially when the Bucs built a 14-0 lead in the first half.

Wiggins, who is committed to UM, was held out as a precaution after he clashed knees with a teammate at a recent practice.

Coach Nate Hudson says UM loves “his athleticism – similar to things we want to do – attacking the ball, his IQ of the game. He’s a sponge. He’s an athlete.”

Running back Jawon Hamilton excelled early on when South Dade was building its lead. He scored a touchdown and had a few other long runs, showing a quick burst and ability to accelerate and create separation from a chasing defender.

There’s no question Hamilton was aided by a strong, fundamentally sound offensive line, specifically the right side of it with 2016 tackle Boman Swanson (6-4, 245) and 2017 guard Kyron Taylor (6-1, 275).

Hudson says Swanson’s patience in essentially redshirting two seasons ago has paid major dividends for him in his development. Colleges are noticing, and reports state that Taylor is receiving UM interest.

Darnell Durham, a 2017 wide receiver who only stands at 5-8, made an impressive leaping catching against a Creek defender in the end zone for a South Dade touchdown.

Another pair of rising juniors at DB for the Bucs had interceptions in the end zone in Marquise Parnell and Woobendy Guerrier.

COLLEGES IN ATTENDANCE:

Miami, FSU, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Clemson, Texas, Michigan, Louisville, Maryland, West Virginia, Minnesota, Cincinnati, FAU, Temple, Ohio, Florida A&M, West Florida, Liberty and Prairie View A&M

May 20, 2015

Updates on Jaquwan Nelson, Dallas Jeanty from Fort Lauderdale scrimmage

I got a chance to pass by Fort Lauderdale High on Tuesday to watch the Flying L’s Blue and White Game and was impressed by several of their athletes.

First, 6-4, 225-pound Class of 2016 defensive end Jaquwan Nelson was absolutely dominant in his pass rush and has a solid frame to build upon at the next level.

The three-star UM commit with active hands off the edge demands a double team. One blocker isn’t enough to contain him as a quick and forceful rip move swiftly gets him past linemen. I counted at least three times that he busted through for a “sack” (no contact on the quarterback).

 

Nelson spoke with me about what it meant to him to get that offer from the Hurricanes at UM’s Junior Day and how he reacted.

“It was a dream come true. I always wanted to play for UM as a little kid,” Nelson said. “My heart was pumping. My reaction was outrageous. I didn’t know what to do.”

Nelson lists himself as a “very solid” commit but is keeping his options open. He put his commitment status at 90 percent.

Nelson (pictured in three-point stance below) says the other schools that make up the remaining 10 percent would be Florida State, Notre Dame and Oregon State. Of those, Oregon State has offered while he says he’s heard from the other two but they are not showing too much interest.



Jaquwan NelsonDallas Jeanty, a three-star 6-1, 220-pound linebacker is urging to get a Hurricanes offer and join Nelson in the Canes’ 2016 class, as well as several other close friends in the class.

“I’m the biggest Miami fan on the planet. I’ve wanted a Miami offer forever,” says Jeanty, who currently lists 34 other offers.

He says if he got the UM offer, he would “definitely commit on the spot.”

As for now, Jeanty (pictured behind Nelson to the left) says Oregon State is his leader followed by Cincinnati and Army.

With a 3.9 GPA and a 1260 on the SAT (reading and math), he has been offered by all eight Ivy League schools. He wants a competitive school both in academics and in football, so that’s another reason why the Miami offer is so important to him. He’s also hopeful for a Notre Dame and USC offer.

Another solid-looking linebacker for Fort Lauderdale who is not getting the recruiting attention is 5-11, 210-pound 2017 prospect Darryl Weaver.

Weaver showed tremendous instincts getting to the ball and hits hard with good form when he tackles. He also had a fumble recovery in the scrimmage.

Kevin Thomas, a defensive back who was playing some outside linebacker on Tuesday, scooped up a fumble recovery for a touchdown on a backward pass.

Cornerback Duwan Smith is very good in coverage and reacts well with quick hips.

USF, Minnesota, Akron and Navy all had coaches at Fort Lauderdale's spring scrimmage.

May 19, 2015

Lichtenstein: "I'd probably commit" if offered by Canes; Parchment names top three

There's a lot of recruiting activity brewing out of Cypress Bay as spring comes to its conclusion for the Lightning.

All you had to do was look at how many colleges were represented at Cypress Bay’s spring game on Tuesday to identify how much interest there is in the Lightning’s prospects.

Georgia Tech, Duke, USF, Illinois, Indiana, Cincinnati, Syracuse and Bowling Green all had coaches in Weston on Tuesday.

Jake Lichtenstein (6-5, 235 pounds), a Class of 2017 defensive end, is a hot prospect due to his obvious size, motor and long arms.

Lichtenstein lists a recent offer from Louisville as his first but has also drawn significant interest from the hometown Miami Hurricanes and he says he is a big fan of the U.

How would he react if UM offered him?

“I’d probably commit,” says Lichtenstein, who is also being recruited by Auburn, Virginia and UCF. “I’ve always liked UM – hometown team, family can show up to watch. That’s a dream.”

 

Cypress Bay coach Mark Guandolo has been impressed with Lichtenstein – and not just for his play on the gridiron.

“He’s put on a lot of weight in the offseason program, he’s got a 4.5 GPA, he’s an all-around great kid,” Guandolo says.

Andrew Parchment, a three-star 2016 wide receiver, has announced a top three of Cincinnati, USF and Syracuse – in that order. Immediately after the scrimmage, he had a different third team, but after being contacted by Syracuse later Tuesday, the Orange are gaining momentum in his recruiting picture.

“Cincinnati, right now, has to be my No. 1 offensive-wise and because they have a bunch of South Florida guys,” says Parchment, whose name on Twitter is OchoCinco and his cover photo is one of Chad Johnson (or Ochocinco) in a Cincinnati Bengals uniform.

For now, Parchment tentatively says he will announce a commitment on Twitter at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

At the scrimmage, his size at 6-4 was evident and he also displayed a keen sense of route-running and sharp change of direction. He stopped on a dime in the end zone on a comeback route to catch a touchdown at the pylon.

Parchment and 2016 cornerback Darrell Malone are close friends, both have offers from Cincinnati and could see themselves playing together at the next level.

“That’s one of my best friends on the team, so me and him have been talking about it for a little bit,” Parchment says.

Malone, also a three-star at 5-11, 165, was a shutdown corner on defense and also got in offensively to show his burst and run in a touchdown on a sweep.

He had thoughts of announcing a commitment on Wednesday but interest from Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Indiana after the scrimmage has him holding off for the time being.

“They’re great players, good team guys, hard workers, very talented, very tough competitors,” Guandolo says. “They’re going to be ready to play early.”

--Middle linebacker Robert Pitter was an “animal” tackling, as Guandolo put it. Pitter, the Lightning’s leading tackler, is undersized at 5-9, but he more than makes up for it with how strong he plays and how he knifes through the line to make tackles for loss. Guandolo compared him to former Cypress Bay linebacker Nico Marley, who is now at Tulane.

--Rising junior FB/DB Danny Montoya was a workhorse back in the scrimmage and reeled off some impressive runs. He’s receiving interest from Ivy League and Patriot League schools.

--Guandolo also praised rising senior R.J. Rosario at safety and his defensive line, namely Nesta Silvera, a 2018 nose guard that’s already 6-2, 285, and starting end Nicolas Wucher.

May 18, 2015

Deerfield Beach safety James Pierre commits to UM

James Pierre, a three-star defensive back out of Deerfield Beach, orally committed to UM Monday evening after receiving an offer earlier Monday.

The 6-1, 175-pound safety becomes the 21st commitment of the Canes’ 2016 recruiting class and sixth defensive back, joining Tyler Byrd (Naples), Devin Gil (Pembroke Pines Flanagan), Deion Jackson (Hallandale), James Wiggins (Homestead South Dade) and Cedrick Wright (Miami Gulliver).

UM will have safeties Deon Bush and Dallas Crawford go into their senior seasons in the fall while juniors Jamal Carter and Rayshawn Jenkins have two years of eligibility remaining.

The Canes had four freshman defensive backs – safety Robert Knowles and cornerbacks Sheldrick Redwine, Michael Jackson and Terrance Henley – enroll on Sunday while safety Jaquan Johnson enrolled in the spring.

Pierre, the nation’s 27th-ranked safety according to Rivals, had other notable offers from Wisconsin, West Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Syracuse, Cincinnati and FIU.

 

May 16, 2015

Prospects give Valdes solid foundation as he takes over at Coral Reef

It’s clear that coach Javier Valdes is the right man for the job at Coral Reef.

With two years of head coaching experience building Mater Academy’s program to the point of its first playoff appearance last season, Valdes takes over at Coral Reef, a program that has seen success in recent years but then fell on tough times with a 2-8 season in 2014.

A new coach, a new district (15-8A) and solid prospects in a talent-rich neighborhood in the south has football at the Reef back on the rise.

“The guys have already taken into the culture and the mentality that we’re trying to build and are working really hard,” Valdes says. “I feel like there’s a lot of talent here that was untapped, and I think if you give them the system, they buy in and they work their tail off, they start building championship habits. Good things are going to follow.”

--Harvey Clayton Jr., a 2016 athlete who already lists offers from Louisville, Temple and Alcorn State, tops the senior class for the Barracudas.

 

At 6-2, 185 pounds, he already has ideal size and ball skills to translate to a cornerback that could match up with possession receivers at the next level.

Offensively, he lines up at wide receiver and can go up and get a ball over a defender in single coverage – like he did at one point in the end zone in Saturday’s scrimmage.

“We’re expecting a lot of big things from him – not only as a leader on the field – but as a playmaker,” Valdes says. “I think Harvey gives us an X-factor any time we line up on Friday nights.”

N.C. State, Miami and Cincinnati have also shown interest recently.

--2017 linebacker/safety Colvin Alford received his first offer from Temple on Tuesday and has received interest from the likes of Nebraska, Florida, Miami, USF, N.C. State, FIU and FAU.

After watching him, it’s obvious why so many schools like him as he heads into the summer between his sophomore and junior years. At 6-0 and close to 200 pounds, Alford presents Coral Reef with versatility on defense both at linebacker and safety. He had an impressive interception on a poorly thrown ball at the scrimmage.

 

“Dynamic playmaker, he’s got a physical presence but he’s athletic enough to cover at safety or outside backer,” Valdes says. “He makes plays in the box, he makes plays all over the field. Eventually he’ll be making plays with the ball in his hands.

Alford lists Nebraska as an early front-runner once he gets an offer from the Corn Huskers.

--Brian Castro, a 2016 leader on the offensive line at 6-2, 250 was a beast on Saturday.

“Real smart football player and student,” Valdes says. “He plays physical and is the leader of the offensive line, brings the nastiness and is going to help our power run game.”

--Randy Shannon Jr. was out on the field playing middle linebacker and wearing his father’s old No. 22 that Randy Shannon wore as a Hurricane.

With his father now the defensive coordinator with the Florida Gators, one might assume he may end up at UF – if not through scholarship, as a preferred walk-on – but Valdes says the scholar athlete who brings “a calming presence” to the defense will likely go a separate route.

“They don’t want to play for each other; they’re going to make it their own way,” he says – a notion that Shannon Jr. himself confirmed to me.

Shannon Jr., a 6-0, 215-pound 2016 prospect, has seen interest from FIU, FAU, Buffalo, Georgetown, Cornell, Colgate and Fordham.

--Coral Reef has a slew of talented 2018 prospects that its new coaching staff can surely build upon. There’s quite a few to list, but two that really stood out to me were running back Jordon Donaldson and lineman Jaylaan Williams.

Donaldson possesses the vision, burst and ability to make sharp, quick cuts. Williams is an absolute monster at 6-3 and weighs between 280 and 290 as he wraps up his freshman year; he was seen lining up at left tackle.

--2016 RB Mehki Ervan runs with a low center of gravity at 5-7 and can run a defender over if he doesn’t meet him with proper technique. He also has great footwork.

Coral Reef will hold its spring game on Wednesday against Edison at Harris Field.