June 21, 2014

Bush, Flanagan Have Built A Quality Football Team

Devin Bush remembers when it happened. The time and place where his Flanagan High football program had finally tuned that corner and became a team that was no longer a pretender in the race to get to the state championship game.

"After year of playing top-flight teams such as Lakeland on the road and coming up short, it was a game last year against Sanford Seminole." Bush recalled. "When we went up there and won that game, I looked every player on this team and told them that we had indeed arrived."

Bush was right. The former Hialeah-Miami Lakes, Florida State University and NFL standout defensive back, who took over the Falcons last season, knew that once his program could beat a quality opponent on the road, he could tell them that they had arrived - and using that win - this football program had the best season on school history, finishing 9-1 in the regular season and narrowly losing to power Deerfield Beach in a game that this program could have easily won.

"Last year was one of those seasons where you can honestly look at this football program and say that the corner had been turned," Bush explained. "We can no longer settle for moral victories and second place prizes. To tell you the truth, we fully expect to be in Orlando in December and playing for that 8A state title."

As he watched his team mature over the past season, Bush knows that this is a football program that not only has the talent, but now has the experience to win those close games - and it all starts on offense, where this team really has the talent to come out on top.

Led by rising senior quarterback Ryan Stanley (6-2, 185) and sophomore Stanford Samuels (5-11, 165), the Falcons have the most promising pair of quarterbacks in south Florida. Both have proven that they can move this team and have what it takes to make the offense special.

"I think people were looking at this team as a more defensive program this year," Bush pointed out. "But this offense is stronger and more experienced than last year - ad that's what will set us apart."

With a more confident Stanley, who enters his fourth season at the varsity level, this unit can boast some quality football talent. Senior receivers Robert Foy (5-11, 190), Keavon Mitchell (6-0, 170), Walter Jackson (5-11, 190), Paul Clarke (5-7, 140), Stanley Poisson (6-1, 160) and University of Miami commitment Emonee Spence (6-3, 190), and tight ends Bradley Martin (6-2, 190) and Deandre Hampton (6-0, 190) provide plenty of firepower. Add in juniors Tyler Peppers (6-3, 165), Keith Coffee (6-2, 170), Isaiah Collins (5-7, 150) and Maurice Codner (5-10, 165) and the quality depth is in place.

"We wanted to build a program where if one player went down, we wouldn't struggle," Bush said. "If I found out anything in my years of playing this game, it's a deep team is a successful team."

In the spring, the Falcons found out plenty about how much balance the offense had, especially at running back where seniors Michael Francis (5-9, 170), transfer Arkeem Granger (6-0, 210) and gifted sophomore Anthony Johnson (5-9, 160) all gave this team plenty of speed, athleticism and talent.

In addition, the offensive line, which was viewed as a spot that needed the most improvement, showed why this unit will be in great hands. Seniors Cameron Campbell (6-3, 255), Darnell Brown (5-9, 230), Kevin Lambert (6-2, 260), Brandon Salmon (5-8, 285) and Bryanna Pages (6-0, 215) received plenty of help from juniors Isaiah Murray (6-3, 215), Sean Remmey (6-2, 305) and Giovannie Ramos (6-1, 265) - as well as sophomores Anthony Vega (6-0, 265), Marcus Etienne (5-11, 235) and Jamar Lambert, a 6-4, 340-pounder.

While the offense has been a huge surprise, the defense will be as solid as ever - with perhaps the most impressive and deep group you will find anywhere. Leading the way is Bush's son Devin Jr., a highly recruited junior who stands 6-0, 215-pounds is among the best in the country. Joining Bush Jr. are seniors Donte Brown (5-9, 180), Western transfer Adrienne Talon (6-1, 200) and Jordan Clarke (5-11, 200), and juniors Natrone Ray (5-11, 230), Michael Bowe (6-2, 205) and Nicky Donadel (6-0, 195).

"While we are strong at linebacker, our defensive front is quick and athletic," Bush said. "Seniors such as Jawan Roulhac (5-11, 190), Julian Wright (5-11, 185) and Emanuel Strachan(6-1, 180), and junior Dennis Jackson, a 5-11, 255-pounder."

The Falcons' secondary is another place that improvement will be noticed. Seniors Bradley Hall (6-2, 180), Willie Williams (6-2, 160), Raekwon Johns (5-8, 155), Jackie Senat (5-11, 160), Nicoli McCarthy (5-11, 180) and Jamal Souffrant (5-7. 155), Will Viveiros (6-2, 170), and a strong underclass - led by gifted Devin Gil (6-1, 205), Rocco Marucci (6-1, 160), Mark Pleffner (6-0, 190), Charles Williams (5-10, 175) and Joshua Metellus (5-10, 180).

"Our goal this past year was to assemble a team where quality depth would be in place," Bush admitted. "I think we certainly accomplished that."

In addition to a tough district that features Miramar, Cypress Bay and Everglades, the Falcons will get a challenge from Miami Norland as well.

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.

Columbus will rely on a more experienced team in 2014

Not Paying Attention To Miramar Would Be A Mistake!

June 15, 2014

Columbus will rely on a more experienced team in 2014

When Christopher Columbus head coach Chris Merritt and his assistants look back on the 2013 football season, the lack of experience jumped out as the reason this team failed to win the district and posted an “average” 7-5 record.

While a 1-4 start put the Explorers in a hole, it didn’t stop this quality program from finishing strong with 40 seniors helping to keep the team together down the stretch.

In a year where four of the five losses came by a combined 14 points, it was one of those seasons where the players, coaches and fans were left shaking their collective heads when the season came to an end during a two-day playoff game against rival Coral Gables. The Explorers were in control when the rains came on the first day, but seemed to fall apart on the second day.

Coral Gables, which had one of its best seasons in nearly 14 years, ended up advancing and narrowly lost to eventual 8A state champion South Dade. That gave Merritt and his team a feeling that a few breaks here and there and this program could have been holding its first ever state championship trophy last December.

“It really was a frustrating season because we just didn’t have the experience to make those plays needed to be a championship team,” Merritt explained. “The talent was there, but many of the players we had on the roster were never in a position of making those plays in the big games.”

What Columbus faced the past two years was losing 78 seniors and replacing them with several younger prospects. Add to that the many players who transferred out over a two-year period and that could very well be why those close losses defined the season.

As the 2014 season looms on the horizon, there is a different feeling around campus. While there are a record 54 seniors on this year’s team, many of those 2015 prospects are ready to be those decision makers.

Prospects such as quarterback Tucker Beirne, running back Ernest Donaldson, receivers Austin Maloney and Xavier Williams, and versatile Andres Fernandez on offense – and lineman Alejandro Levy, linebackers Fernando Escobar and Peter Delatour, and quality secondary performers J.R. Garrigo, Zack VanDemark and Anthony Rosenfeld.

“The big difference is with Tucker on offense,” Merritt explained. “Two years ago, he was thrust into a position where he just wasn’t ready, but nobody has worked harder to be a leader and a physical threat like he has. Levy has done the same on defense.”

While this senior class is indeed gifted and now loaded with the experience needed, its underclassmen – perhaps the best in recent memory – that will give this program a huge lift and provide them with enough talent to be one of the favorites to get to Orlando this season.

The junior class is stacked with difference makers on both sides of the ball, with athletic Ivan Smith, speedy running back Amir Rasul, Palmetto transfer Jerron Rollins at receiver, steady linemen Kyle Mann and Kevin Householder, and quarterback Alejandro Ros adding to the offense.

Emerging linebacker/defensive end prospect Bryce Handy and linebacker Dean Maestu have proven to be quality players who will be instrumental this coming season.

“This is a really a quality underclass we have this season,” Merritt explained. “Add in 2017 defensive back Trajan Bandy, and it even gets better.”

With teams such as Killian, South Dade, Coral Gables, Southwest Miami and North Miami serving as major obstacles this season, the Explorers, coming off a productive spring where they knocked off Boward County programs Cardinal Gibbons and Boyd Anderson, have the right to believe they can be right in the mix.

“I have to believe that our schedule has a lot to do with the success of the program,” Merritt said. “We start with the defending 8A state champions, South Dade, play our rival Belen Jesuit, compete in what was the district title game last year with a very talented Coral Gables and then play the three-time 6A state champion Central.”

Instead of playing defending 5A state champion Plantation American Heritage again, the Explorers will fly to Kentucky on Oct. 11 to play Highlands High.

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.

Not Paying Attention To Miramar Would Be A Mistake!

June 14, 2014

Mark Walton's commitment to Miami 'as solid as they come' with reclassification to 2015 class

Mark Walton, Miami Booker T. Washington’s stud running back and University of Miami commitment, has reclassified to the Class of 2015.

Walton and his coach Tim Harris Jr. confirmed Walton’s move up from the Class of 2016 on Saturday while participating in the Miami Dolphins 7-on-7 tournament at Plantation Park.

With the news, UM’s 2015 recruiting class is now up to 15 members and ranked ninth overall in the country by 247Sports. Running backs Jordan Cronkrite from Westminster Christian and Dexter Williams from Winter Garden West Orange are also committed to the Canes, who could boast one of the most talented backfields in the country with former Miami Central back Joseph Yearby already enrolled.

"Man, that would be a great backfield," Walton said.

Harris said Walton’s process began at the end of last season, and included Walton taking a night-school class and online classes to meet requirements.

“He dedicated to wanting to reclassify and we’ve been all behind him,” Harris said. “Every kid’s situation is a little different, and we want to help Mark to be able to one day do all the things he wants to do for himself and his family.”

Walton, who visited UM on Tuesday with teammates including wide receiver Antonio Callaway and cornerback Devante Davis, said the Canes’ coaching staff was elated to hear the news.

“The coaching staff was excited, and I’m excited about it, too,” Walton said. “When I saw they’re reaction, my reaction went up.”

Walton -- who has seen his recruitment slow in recent months -- hopes to receive offers from Alabama, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Arkansas, but still relishes his close relationships with the Canes staff, including running back coach Hurlie Brown.

“I try to convince people to come to the University of Miami and get that swagger back down in Coral Gables, and try to get the tradition back going and try to win a National Championship,” Walton said.

Added Harris: “He’s still committed to Miami. He’s as solid as they come.”

June 07, 2014

Not Paying Attention To Miramar Would Be A Mistake!

After being upset by Palm Beach Gardens in the 8A state playoffs and then watching its most successful head coach in school history take a college job, there were those who were quick to write Miramar off as a contender for the 2014 season.

While this program has been one of the best in Florida over the past five years, there was feeling that losing Coach Damon Cogdell and a quality class of seniors would certainly stand in the way of the Patriots being among the elite for the upcoming season.

Fearing many of the remaining players may be swayed to leave and attend other schools, Miramar High administrators worked quickly to hire a replacement for Cogdell, who had taken his alma mater to levels the program had never been since opening in the early 1970s.

With Cogdell heading to West Virginia, his help in naming a successor, quickly was huge as this program welcomed assistant coach Matt Strout to lead the Patriots into the 2014 season. The decision to hire someone who had been on staff was easy. That way the staff that had so much success working under Cogdell would remain in place and the transition would be smooth and the players would be content to stay on

While several key players graduated on both sides of the ball, it was the offense that really took a hit as two quarterbacks, a number of quality running backs and receivers and linemen departed, leaving Strout and his staff with a huge spring assignment.

“This spring was so much easier because of the staff that remained,” Strout admitted. “We realized that our defense would be solid, but there were many questions to be answered on the offensive side of the ball, where a new quarterback, several new linemen and a coordinator all had to gel.”

Class of 2016 quarterback Demari Simpkins (5-11, 170) was the perfect place to start for a team that featured some impressive talent returning. Simpkins, who is still a work in progress, picked things up quickly, and with a 13-day trip planned this summer to several colleges, learning all facets of the spread offense will come easier.

“We are very excited about what Demari brings to this offense,” Strout explained. “We lost two senior leaders at the position from last year, so it was essential that he came in and picked things up almost immediately.”

While Simpkins will manage the offene, he will not be asked to do it all. The senior class is loaded with playmakers, starting with running back Alex Anderson (6-0, 205), who is regarded as one of the best in the state. There is also Sanjai Bruno (5-9, 180), who saw extensive playing time a year ago. Receivers Khalil Lewis (6-1, 195) and 6-4, 200-pound Kevin Purlett are quality players as well.

The offensive line, which lost some depth, features University of Miami commit Leeward Brown (6-4, 320), Stewart Boyd (6-3, 285) and versatile Jaquan Owens, who made the move from defense last season.

“This senior class has experience and leadership,” Strout pointed out. “That was huge in our spring game win at a very athletic Lake Wales squad.”

Class of 2016 prospects such as running back Greg McCrae (5-11, 165), receiver Kyle Anthony (6-4, 180) and Everglades line transfer Obinna Nwankwo (6-3, 280) give this program plenty to work with during the summer.

As many questions swirled around Strout’s first spring as head coach on the offensive side of the ball, defensively, the Patriots were in great hands.

With a secondary that is perhaps as good as any in the country, there was a feeling that things would fall into place – especially at the linebacker position where Broward County Player of the Year, Ryan Samuels and David Lee, had graduated.

“We knew coming in with our secondary and what we had up front, we could be just as dominating as we have been in the past,” Strout explained. “It was a matter of using some of our rising seniors with a few juniors to set the tempo. When we left Lake Wales, I think we all felt very good about players such as senior Danzel King (6-1, 210), and juniors Deshondre Pitts (5-10, 185) and Mark Niles (5-9, 195) to start with.

The Patriots also believe that they have as active and athletic a defensive front as anyone. With seniors Bryton Diejuste (6-2, 225) and Darrel Swanson (6-3, 205), and junior playmaker Khalil Roan (5-10, 265), moving the ball would be very tough in 2014.

If you really want to make Strout and Patriot fans smile, mention the secondary and you will get nothing but glowing comments.

Led by highly-recruited Tyrek Cole (6-0, 170) and Jeff Hill (5-9, 175), the tradition continues. Add in versatile and athletic Herbert Miller (6-2, 195), Josmar Diaz (5-11, 180) and McArthur transfer Kendrell McFadden (6-3, 180) and catching a ball in this secondary will be nearly impossible.

The Patriots will also feature 2017 standout Brian Edwards, a 6-4, 185-pounder as well.

“I have not seen all the defensive secondaries in the country, but if there is a better one than this, you better not schedule them,” Strout said. This is a group that is being recruited by every college in the country. Having McFadden gives us additional freedom to move him around the field to make plays.”

The Patriots will make good use of the 13-day trip that includes Cincinnati, Ohio State, Louisville, Kentucky, Marshall, Ohio U, Pittsburgh, Akron and a visit to see Coach Cogdell and West Virginia. In addition, the Patriots will visit Auburn, UAB, Alabama, Samford and Florida.

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.

Columbus will rely on a more experienced team in 2014

May 24, 2014

South Florida leaves a mark in NFL Draft, again!

When Ryan Shazier walked across the stage two weeks ago in New York, put on the Pittsburgh Steelers' cap and embraced the Commissioner, it sent a message to every youth and high school football prospect in south Florida that dreams do come true.

What has become common place through the years, area athletes have not only made it happen in high school and college, but have shown so much skill and athleticism, this region of the country continues to be a pipeline that ushers quality football talent from local football fields and brings them to a professional level.

Whether it’s Shazier, a one-time Plantation standout who carved out a positive reputation at Ohio State before landing with the Steelers in the first round (15th selection), or a dozen other south Florida-bred athletes who found a home this year with NFL teams, the reality that the next great football prospect will be lining up at a school near you this coming fall.

There is no hiding that south Florida has become ground zero during spring football each and every year – as hundreds of colleges flock to programs from Deerfield Beach to Homestead. That’s why having a first round selection such as Shazier – or former Miami Northwestern standout Teddy Bridgewater being selected in the first round is no longer a major surprise.

For Bridgewater, who was chosen by Minnesota with the final pick of the first round, there was really never any doubt to when this Louisville standout would be chosen. Even though he was picked 32nd, there are those who still feel that he was by far the most NFL-ready quarterback coming out of college this year.

While Bridgewater didn’t wow many with his pro day workouts, there were teams – such as the Vikings who felt otherwise. Remember, during the season, many felt that if he was the No. 1 pick overall by Houston, it would not be a total surprise, but unfortunately, instead of focusing on what he did over three years – leading the Cardinals to over 30 wins – they opted to dwell on what he did in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

While Shazier and Bridgewater were south Floridians chosen in the first round, former St. Thomas Aquinas and Southwest Miami defensive back Lamarcus Joyner was impressive enough for the St. Louis Rams to select him in the second round.

The FSU product, who grew up in Miami-Dade’s inner city, just down the road from Bridgewater, was easily one of the most athletic football players in this year’s draft. He is a true south Florida product, having played youth football and high school in two counties and being viewed as one of the nation’s premier athletes.

The south Florida player rush didn’t end with those three talented performer. Nebraska’s Stanley Jean Baptiste – who attended tiny Westlake Prep – and was coached by current Champagnat Catholic head coach Mike Tunsil – was another area player who was selected in this year’s draft. The New Orleans Saints chose the safety in the second round.

The south Florida talent explosion continued into the third round with St. Thomas Aquinas defensive back product Dezmen Southward (Wisconsin), who was chosen by Atlanta, and lineman Brandon Linder (University of Miami) – selected by Jacksonville.

In the fourth round, Miami Central running back Devonta Freeman (FSU), was taken by Atlanta. Freeman, who began his career in high school at Edison before leading the Rockets to the state championship, was joined by St. Thomas Aquinas and Wisconsin running back James White (New England) and Piper and Utah State safety Nevin Lawson (Detroit).

The fifth round also highlighted south Florida talent with former Miami Central lineman Kevin Pamphile, who emerged at Purdue and was selected by Tampa Bay, and one-time South Dade standout defensive end Ed Stinson (Alabama), who will be headed to Arizona. FAU defensive back Keith Reaser (Killian) was selected by San Francisco.

This year’s south Florida talent extended to the seventh and final round with one-time Pompano Beach Blanche Ely defensive back Jabari Price (North Carolina) finding a home with Minnesota, and former Stranahan lineman Demetrius Rhaney (Tennessee State), who landed with the St. Louis Rams.

“When you look at all the south Florida talent that got drafted – and those who signed on as free agents, it is truly amazing,” said Central assistant coach Alexander Snipes. “We take great pride in the athletes we produce down here. It speaks volumes for all the programs in Miami-Dade and Broward.”

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.

Dolphins 7-on-7 High School Football Tournament

The 7th Annual Miami Dolphins 7-on-7 High School Football Tournament Presented by Under Armour and the National Guard will take place Friday, June 13-15.

Friday, June 13 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – Symposium held in The Arena at the Don Taft University Center on the campus of Nova Southeastern University in Davie (3301 College Avenue, Davie, FL 33314).

Saturday, June 14 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. – 7-on-7 games at Central Park in Plantation (9151 NW 2nd Street, Plantation, FL 33324).

Sunday June 15 9 a.m. – 7 on 7 Championship Games at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens (347 Don Shula Drive, Miami Gardens, FL 33056).

The 7th annual 7-on-7 tournament three-day event begins on Friday, June 13 with a symposium focusing on character development and specific skill training. The character development portion includes guest speakers, including NFL players and coaches. The high school players will be taught practical life lessons and preparation for standardized tests, along with discussions on life after high school, personal development and community service.

On-field components of the NFL’s High School Player Development (HSPD) Program include fundamental skill development by position, reviews and individual competitions. As part of on-field training, players focus on both an offensive and a defensive position and eventually apply their newly-learned fundamentals to live drills.

Over 50 high schools from the Tri-county area and Southwest Florida will be represented at the event, including: American Senior High School, Archbishop Curley, Booker T. Washington, Calvary Christian, Cardinal Newman, Carol City, Champagnat Catholic, Coconut Creek, Columbus, Deerfield Beach, Dillard, Douglas, Dr. Krop, Dwyer, Flanagan, Fort Lauderdale, Gulliver, Hialeah Gardens, Island Coast, Jupiter Christian, Keys Gate, Lake Worth, Mater Academy, Miami Country Day, Miami Jackson, Miami Killian Senior, Miami Pace, Miami Senior High, Miami Springs, Miami Sunset, Miramar, Monarch, North Miami, North Miami Beach, Northeast, Nova, Piper, Seminole Ridge, South Plantation, Southridge, Stranahan, Suncoast Community, Taravella, Village Academy, Western, Westland Hialeah and Westminister Academy.

The high school football tournament will begin on Saturday, June 14 at 8:00 a.m. The tournament will consist of Round Robin play and then move into a single elimination format. The final 8 teams will play on Sunday, June 15 at Sun Life Stadium that will crown one high school football champion.

The winning high school team will represent South Florida and the Miami Dolphins in the 2014 HSPD National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana on July 14th – 15th. Former winners Booker T. Washington and Glades Central have won the national championship in previous years.

May 22, 2014

Torrance Gibson misses Plantation American Heritage spring game for disciplinary reasons

Outgoing seniors Sony Michel and Isaiah McKenzie were two big names on hand to watch the Plantation Anerican Heritage spring game on Thursday afternoon.

But the team's biggest name wasn't even on campus.

Dual-threat quarterback Torrance Gibson, rated the No. 1 player at the athlete position by both ESPN and 247Sports, missed the school's intrasquad scrimmage for disciplinary reasons.

Gibson — who tweeted Monday "Minor setback for a major comeback. Just wait on it" — did not give a reason himself via text message Thursday for his absence.

"I'm not playing," he said.

Gibson did acknowledge he is not injured.

"No," he said, "I can't play."

Heritage athletic director Karen Stearns did not want to comment on Gibson's situation to “respect his privacy,” but also acknowledged he is not injured.

As for the defending Class 5A champions' offense, it moved as well as it could behind freshman quarterback Jason Brown.

Brown — who held his head high and proceeded to keep working while struggling during the first half of play — had two interceptions and a fumble, but got on the scoreboard with a goal-line fade pass to junior receiver Brandon Johnson towards the end of the first half.

Senior linebacker Christain Irving (5-11, 205) caught both interceptions, and ecstatically said on the sidelines he had “magnets in his gloves.”

Junior linebacker Bradley Clement (5-10, 225) and junior weakside defensive end Brian Burns (6-5, 205) also were standout players on defense. Five-star cornerback Tarvarus McFadden (6-3, 195) had his fair share of frustration with the offense avoiding his side of the field.

When Gibson does return to the helm of the Patriots' offense, he'll have his share of weapons to compensate for the departures of Michel and McKenzie.

The Patriots have a trio of running backs at their disposal in senior speedster Travis Jackson (5-7, 180), junior Shaddrick Lowery and sophomore Kyshaun Bryan (5-10, 185). Gibson will also look to continue his chemistry with Johnson and fellow junior wide receiver Dredrick Snelson.

As for Michel and McKenzie, they will be roommates when they arrive at the University of Georgia on May 31.

And as for the current crop of Heritage players, coaches from Florida State, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Jacksonville and Florida Tech were on hand for the game. LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder — former Heritage coach from 1983-1987 — visited the school earlier Thursday.

May 18, 2014

2014 Walker Football Academy

The 2014 Walker Football Academy at Cooper City High School in Cooper City focuses on developing the Junior High football player through its Fundamental Football Skills Camp for boys in grades 4th through 7th or ages 10 to 13 years.

The Walker Football Academy requires a completed football camp application with parental/guardian signature along with payment to secure a position at the camp.

Campers must bring a water bottle, towel and wear cleats. The wearing of sun screen and a visor are strongly recommended. A Monday through Friday session will be offered from 9 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. June 9-13. The cost is $125 and includes a T-Shirt.

Camp will be held on the grounds of Cooper City High School, 9401 Stirling Road, Cooper City, FL 33328. To receive an application please email The Walker Football Academy at kay.walker7@gmail.com or stop by the front office at Cooper City High School (Head Coach Brandon Walker) or Archbishop McCarthy High School (Head Coach Byron Walker).

The Walker Football Academy will be coached by McCarthy High Head Coach Byron Walker, an FACA Hall of Fame Coach, a 12 time Coach of the Year, an FACA At-Large Board Member, who coached the Florida-Georgia All-Stars and North-South All-Stars and coached teams which have played in 10 State Football Championship games winning.

Three State Titles, Six Runner-up titles and advanced to the State play-off series Twenty-three times. Coach Walker will be joined by his son, Brandon Walker, Head Coach of the Cooper City High School Cowboys, a three year collegiate coach (University of Delaware and Fordham University), who has coached high school football for nine years.

For additional information please call Coach Byron Walker at 954-583-7747 or Coach Brandon Walker at 954-830-6225.

May 09, 2014

Plantation coach calls NFL first round experience with former player Ryan Shazier "awesome"

Plantation coach Steve Davis (right) poses with Steelers 1st round pick Ryan Shazier hours before the NFL Draft Thursday.It's not often that a high school coach gets the chance to travel up to New York City and watch one of his former players get taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.

So Plantation High coach Steve Davis made sure to soak the experience all in on Thursday night.

Ryan Shazier, whom Davis coached for four years at Plantation and grew into an All-American linebacker at Ohio State, was taken with the 15th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday. It's the first player Davis has ever coached to go in the first round.

Shazier, a 6-1, 237-pound athletic freak who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds at the NFL combine, also became the first Broward County player to be taken in the first round since the Arizona Cardinals drafted former Pompano Beach Ely cornerback Patrick Petersen with the fifth pick in the 2011 draft.

"It was an awesome experience," said Davis, who said he got a chance to hug Shazier -- along with 15 family members -- shortly after he stepped off stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

"The funny thing about it was Pittsburgh was real quiet throughout the whole process. They didn't call his agent. If they didn't take him the Dallas Cowboys were on the phone with his agent saying they were going to take him at 16. It was exciting and a great moment."

Shazier grew up the son of a pastor -- and not just any pastor. Vernon Shazier is the team chaplain for the Miami Dolphins and a motivational speaker for the team. Davis said both of Shazier's parents did a tremendous job raising him especially as he struggled growing up battling Alopecia, a condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body.

"It was rough for him as a child," Davis said. "It wasn't cool to be a bald headed guy when you're a little guy. His hair was in patches. He developed a rough exterior, but always had a great heart. And now he's grown into a young man who wants to help other people."

Davis, who had former Plantation players Brandon McGee (2013, 5th round) and Josh Robinson (2012, 3rd round) taken in the previous two drafts, said he knew Shazier was going to be a special talent since his freshman year at Plantation.

"He was on JV and they were playing Boyd Anderson. Ryan sacked the quarterback, picked up the fumble and ran it in for a touchdown," Davis said. "The funny thing was right before he got over the goalline he held it up to celebrate and the ball slipped out of his hands. That was like a life lesson. He said he never did that again. But you could see the ability."

Somehow, the hometown Miami Hurricanes didn't. Davis said Shazier never got an offer from Randy Shannon's coaching staff before he was fired on the final day of the 2010 season. Davis said it was tough for him to stomach especially since UM had recruited McGee from him the year before.

"I hate to share that because how I feel about UM and they're the hometown team, but it was a head scratcher," Davis said. "Ryan had offers on the table from Alabama, LSU and was committed to Florida before Urban Meyer left. Miami had been recruiting him since his sophomore year. Other teams saw what freakish ability he had and that he was going to be a linebacker. Everybody else knew they would have to coach him up. That's why you coach."

Davis said the day after Al Golden got the job at Miami he called to offer Shazier a scholarship. But it was too late. Shazier was already on his way to Columbus, Ohio to play for Jim Tressel. 

"I look at it like all things happen for a reason. Ryan led the Big Ten in tackles two years in a row," Davis said. "People make mistakes. That's one unfortunately they made."


May 08, 2014

Nearly half of top 50 NFL Draft prospects were 3-star high school recruits or worse


If you are a high school football recruit and you aren't considered a four- or five-star recruit there is no need to panic. Your chances of being a future NFL first round pick aren't impossible.

Don't believe me? I spent this afternoon looking up the recruiting backgrounds of the Top 50 NFL Draft Prospects according to ESPN and found some intriguing information on how many stars they were given in high school.

Of the top 50 players expected to be taken over the next three days, Rivals.com rated 26 either 4- or 5-star recruits and 24 were 3-star recruits or worse according to the scouting website.

Here's the breakdown: Six five-star recruits; 20 4-star recruits; 17 3-star recruits; six two-star recruits and 1-no star recruit.

Who is the player that didn't have any stars coming out of high school? Former Miami Central and Nebraska cornerback Stan Jean-Baptiste. He moved to North Carolina as a senior and ended up having to go to Fort Scott Community College in Kansas where eventually a couple of BCS programs offered him including the Cornhuskers. So it's safe to say he's the ultimate long shot entering tonight's draft.

Now, as my colleagues at @SBNRecruiting were quick to point out, there are far fewer 5- and 4-star recruits than 3-star recruits or less. So the elite talent usually rises to the top. But it's not impossible for 3-star recruits and others to climb to the top. Take a look at the examples below.


1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
- Rivals.com 5-star and No. 1 overall player in 2011 from Rock Hill, S.C. Visited Alabama and Clemson.

2. Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
- Rivals.com 4-star and No. 90 overall player in 2011 from Thibodaux, La. Visited LSU.

3. Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
- Rivals.com 2-star, unranked from Fort Pierce Westwood, Fla. Only other offer was from Liberty.

4. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
- Rivals.com 5-star, No. 15 overall player in 2011 from South Fort Myers. University of Miami was in the running.

5. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
- Rivals.com 4-star, No. 48 overall player in 2011 from Missouri City, Tex. The son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, he committed to the Aggies in July before his junior year. USC was also in the mix.

6. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
- Rivals.com 3-star, No. 37 among DTs in 2010 from Pittsburgh, PA. He picked the Panthers over Toledo and Rutgers.

7. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
- Rivals.com 3-star, unranked overall in 2011 from Galveston, Texas who was a basketball standout. Only other offers were Colorado State and Tulane.

8. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
- Rivals.com 4-star, No. 194 overall player in 2009 from Scottsdale, Arizona. His only other official visit was to Minnesota. Lewan told Canesport in Oct. 2008 he got a surprise offer from UM out of the blue after they saw his highlights on the internet.

9. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
- Rivals.com 4-star, No. 22 among offensive tackles in 2009 from Indianapolis. Notre Dame was his only official visit.

10. Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
- Rivals.com 4-star, No. 43 overall in 2011 from New Orleans. Hurricanes were a finalist, but Rivals.com noted Beckham hadn’t talked much with the Hurricanes’ new coaching staff back in January 2011.

11. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
- Rivals.com 3-star, No. 21 among tight ends in 2011 from Greensboro, N.C. Committed to Butch Davis as a junior and stayed with them through an NCAA investigation.

12. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
- Rivals.com 2-star, unranked in 2010 from Jefferson, Georgia. Other offers were from Middle Tennessee State and Utah State.

13. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
- Rivals.com 5-star, ranked No. 7 overall in 2011 from Orlando Dr. Phillips High. Only other visit was to Michigan.

14. C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
- Rivals.com 4-star, ranked No. 56 overall in 2010 from Theodore, Ala. Only other visit was to Auburn.

15. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
- Rivals.com 3-star, unranked in 2010 from Baltimore, Maryland. Followed older brother’s steps to Virginia Tech and picked Hokies over Maryland and Kansas.

16. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
- Rivals.com 4-star, ranked 49th overall in 2009 from Richmond, Va. Took visits to Tennesee, West Virginia and North Carolina.

17. Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
- Rivals.com 4-star, ranked 14th best outside linebacker in the country in 2011 out of Plantation, Fla. Made a late switch from Gators to Buckeyes after the retirement of Urban Meyer. LSU was also in the mix. Never received a UM offer.

18. Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
- Rivals.com 3-star, ranked 44th overall as a pro-style quarterback in 2010 out of Oviedo, Fla. Took unofficial visits to Clemson, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Tennessee, but committed to UCF early and stuck with it.

19. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
- Rivals.com 4-star, ranked 240th overall in 2011 class out of Stockton, Calif. Once committed to UCLA, he switching to the Beavers after they crushed USC.

20. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
- Rivals.com 4-star, ranked 26th best athlete in 2010 out of Huntsville, Texas. Committed to Oklahoma State early and stuck with them. He didn’t take any other official visits.

21. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
- Rivals.com 3-star, ranked 31st among safeties in 2011 out of Port St. Joe, Fla. Committed to Charlie Strong in September of his senior year, visiting Maryland in October and stuck with the Cardinals.

22. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
- Rivals.com 3-star, ranked 14th among dual-threat QBs in 2011 out of Kerrville, Texas. Switched from being an Oregon commitment after receiving an offer from A&M in August of his senior year.

23. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
- Rivals.com 3-star, unranked among 2011 JUCO recruits out of Santa Rosa, J.C. Didn’t get any scholarship offers coming out of high school in Fairfield, Calif.

24. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
- Rivals.com 4-star, ranked 36th overall in 2011 out of Gardena, Calif. Took a late visit to Miami after making previous visits to Florida and Oregon but decided to stay home.

25. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
- Rivals.com 4-star, ranked 50th overall in 2010 out of Los Angeles. Picked the hometown Bruins over Notre Dame and Florida State.

26. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
- Rivals.com 3-star, unranked in 2010 out of Suwanee, Georgia. A previous Vanderbilt commitment, Roby decided to follow former Buckeye Cameron Heyward, a family friend, to Columbus.

27. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
- Rivals.com 5-star, 22nd overall in 2011 out of Monroe, Ga. Flipped his commitment from Notre Dame to Georgia Tech back to Notre Dame in mid January, a big victory for Brian Kelly.

28. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
- Rivals.com 4-star, 113th overall in 2011 out of Miami Northwestern. Was going to be a Hurricane before Randy Shannon was fired. Picked the Cardinals along with teammate and receiver Eli Rogers.

29. Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
- Rivals.com 3-star, 62nd among outside linebackers in 2009 out of Odenville, Ala. Committed to Auburn and stuck with them even after Tommy Tuberville resigned and Gene Chizik was named his replacement.

30. Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
- Rivals.com 3-star, unranked in 2010 out of Washington, D.C. Visited Illinois, Kansas State and Syracuse and ultimately picked the Yellow Jackets because of the previous relationship he had with Al Groh, who became Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator.

31. Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada
- Rivals.com 2-star, unranked in 2009 out of Long Beach, Calif. Had no other offers other than Nevada. “I want (the players) to see that it doesn’t matter what Rivals.com or scouts say,” Bitonio told the Long Beach Press-Telegram a couple days ago. “That’s the high school myth. It’s about what you do on the field. Anyone can say anything they want. It’s your actions that matter.”

32. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
- Rivals.com 5-star, No. 4 overall in 2011 out of Hyattsville, Maryland. Had one of the most dramatic recruitments in recent memory. He committed to Auburn on Signing Day on ESPN only to have second thoughts moments later. After three days of indecision, he signed with Alabama.

33. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
- Rivals.com 4-star, No. 2 fullback in 2009 out of Naples, Fla. A Cincinnati native, Hyde was a slam dunk signee for Ohio State even after spending a year in prep school.

34. Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
- Rivals.com 4-star, 63rd overall in 2009 out of Provo, Utah. Finalists were BYU, Utah, LSU, UCLA and USC. His last visit was to see the Bruins.

35. Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
- Rivals.com 3-star, 49th overall among receivers in 2011 out of Dayton, Ohio. Stuck with the Hooisers after the coaching change and picked them despite late visits to UConn and Western Kentucky. Only had two BCS offers.

36. Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
- Rivals.com 4-star, 85th overall regardless of position in 2010 out of Jacksonville, Fla. Was a University of Miami commitment for over a year and decided to switch to Notre Dame even after the Irish had just fired coach Charlie Weis.

37. Marcus Martin, C, USC
- Rivals.com 3-star, 28th overall among offensive guards in 2011 out of Los Angeles. Stuck to his eight-month commitment despite a late push from Arizona and a visit to Colorado.

38. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
- Rivals.com 4-star, 194th overall regardless of position in 2010 out of New Madrid, Missouri. Picked hometown Tigers in November of his senior year over offers from Georgia Tech, Illinois, Nebraska and Arkansas.

39. Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
- Rivals.com 4-star, 29th overall regardless of position in 2011 out of Lake City Columbia, Fla. Made a Signing Day decision picking the Seminoles over LSU, Tennesse and Florida.

40. Stan Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
- Rivals.com no stars in 2009. Went to Miami Central and moved to North Carolina his senior year where he received no offers and eventually signed with Fort Scott Community College. Signed in Nebraska in June 2010 after getting offers from Colorado, South Florida, Iowa State, Middle Tennessee State and Arkansas State.

41. Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
- Rivals.com 3-star, 6th overall among tight ends in 2009 out of Minneapolis, Minn. Decided to stick with the hometown Gophers and commit in November of his senior year after visits to Ohio State and Wisconsin.

42. Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
- Rivals.com 3-star, 45th overall among safeties in 2010 out of Fairfield, Calif. Chose the Cougars in September over offers from Army, Cal-Poly, Nevada and San Diego State.

43. Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise State
- Rivals.com 3-star, unranked among JUCOs in 2012 out of Butler County Community College (Kansas). Grew up in Aiken. S.C. Picked Boise State after visits to Kansas State, USF and Tennessee.

44. Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
- Rivals.com 2-star, unranked in 2011 out of Palo Alto, Calif. A basketball and football star in high school, Adams received only two football offers – the other was from San Diego State. He told Rivals in Aug. 2010 he ran routes like former Miami Hurricane Santana Moss.

45. Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
- Rivals.com 4-star, 235th overall regardless of position in 2011 out of Spokane, Wash. Was committed to Washington State before switching to then-coach Steve Sarkisian a week before signing day.

46. Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
- Rivals.com 2-star, unranked in 2010. Moved to Mobile, Ala. At the age of seven and was a star for Davidson High School. But he had only three FBS offers. The others: New Mexico and Louisiana-Monroe.

47. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
- Rivals.com 4-star, 52nd overall regardless of position in 2011 out of San Antonio, Texas. Committed to the Raiders in April of his junior year and didn’t visit elsewhere.

48. Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
- Rivals.com 5-star, 18th overall in 2011 out of Lutcher, La. Committed to LSU coach Les Miles in January of his junior year and stayed committed.

49. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
- Rivals.com 3-star, unranked in 2010 out of Madison, Ala. Had only a couple of other BCS offers: Arkansas State, Kansas and Tulane.

50. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
- Rivals.com 2-star, unranked in 2010 out of Rolling Meadows, Ill. Had only two other offers: Montana State and Illinois State.