The Plantation Colonels aren't 7-2 by accident.
While they may not have a slew of highly-touted college football recruits like most of the schools that can hang with the competition in South Florida, a stacked group of under-the-radar prospects mixed with the stellar tutelage of coach Steve Davis has Plantation rolling. The two losses thus far -- to St. Thomas Aquinas and Flanagan, two legitimate state title contenders in Class 7A and 8A respectively.
The Colonels are coming off a big 23-14 victory against Dillard that saw UM defensive line coach Randy Melvin present -- probably to look at Dillard defensive tackle Aaron Thompson, but hopefully he came away with some of Plantation's prospects, as well. FIU was also represented on the sidelines.
Let's take a look at the talent this team possesses, mostly on defense, but I'll first spotlight a few key offensive playmakers in Davis' Wing-T attack.
With the Wing-T being a run-first system, players that may project as receivers don't get many chances to show what they can do when the ball's in the air, but that didn't prevent sophomore tight end Robzel Sylvester from scoring two touchdowns of 50-plus yards in last Friday's victory against a tough Dillard team.
Sylvester says the offense runs the waggle off play action looking for him over the top of the defense once or twice a game, and he made the most of his two chances against the Panthers. He similarly caught a pair of scores against Everglades earlier in the year.
Sylvester is mostly known for his run-blocking abilities in Plantation's scheme, but the big-bodied tight end (6-3, 220 pounds) can also extend the field and get open deep as he's proven. A 2018 prospect, he is yet to draw interest from college programs but has UM as his dream school.
*At running back, sophomore Jordan Johnson (5-10, 190) will be one to watch in the future. He leads the way in the Colonels' rushing attack with senior Maurice Lawrence not far behind. Quarterback Archie Banton orchestrates the Wing-T for Plantation.
Banton has received interest from Florida A&M and Delaware State while Johnson, a 2018 recruit, is rumored to already have UM looking at him.
Now to the defense where Plantation has a number of players that could make an impact at the next level.
*Senior linebacker Malik Jones (6-0, 210) had an interception, sack and another tackle for loss in the 23-14 victory against Dillard, leading the way for a defense that recorded nine sacks.
Jones is currently hearing from Illinois, Purdue and Cincinnati but is yet to receive his first offer, which is a travesty for such a talented linebacker with good size who can run well.
*His brother, Tyrik Jones, a 6-3, 230-pound defensive end/linebacker had a pair of sacks in that game and currently has an impressive list of schools looking at him like UF, FSU, Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon State, Louisville, South Carolina, Pittsburgh and Delaware State.
*Deland Rock-Johnson recorded a late safety that clinched Friday's win. At 6-1, 210, he has heard from Missouri, Purdue and FAU.
*Senior cornerback Justin Lyle already lists a Toledo offer and has also received interest from Cincinnati and Indiana.
*Another talented 2016 defensive back, Jacques Tanelus, has UF, Illinois and Delaware State recruiting him.
*Big 6-5, 265-pound defensive tackle Robert Hawkins, who doubles as an offensive lineman, has been contacted by UM, Purdue and Penn State.
You can catch the Colonels at home in a neighborhood rivalry game against South Plantation at 7 p.m. on Friday.