February 10, 2014

VIDEO: Flanagan football coach Devin Bush talks about his returning stars for next season

2014 Miami Nike SPARQ Combine Recap

Although Nike made its way to South Florida to showcase some of the top, rising high school football players in the area, two athletes far from home stole the show.

Nike continued its SPARQ Combine Tour at North Miami Stadium on Sunday with 2016 wide receivers Tyler Bryd (Naples High) and Brock Miller (Vero Beach Saint Edward’s) earning the only two unofficial ratings eclipsing 100 points.

Byrd, an early University of Florida commitment had the highest SPARQ (speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness) rating amongst the more than 1,500 prospects who participated with a score of 102.54, highlighted by his scores in the 40-yard dash (4.61 seconds), kneeling power ball thrown (38 feet) and vertical jump (38.8 inches). Miller finished with a 101.82, highlighted by his 4.25-second time in the 20-yard shuttle run and 38-feet attempt in the kneeling power ball throw.

The ratings come from tests in the above events, with players also having the options to scratch a time if they wish it not be reported. Having a score scratched, in turn, negatively affects an overall score, which would affect a player’s ability to get invited to a Nike Football Training Combine or even The Opening – Nike’s premier summer event showcasing the top high school players in the country.

Twelve players had ratings of 90 or higher, with three just barely missing the 100-point threshold. Miami Norland 2015 defensive back Carlton Davis had the third highest overall score with 99.78, followed by Miami Gulliver Prep running back Robert Burns – the highest rated 2017 prospect – with a 99.69, and Palm Beach Central 2015 linebacker Frantz Frezin (99.12).

Miami Braddock 2015 running back Lazaro Cespedes (96.54), South Plantation 2015 linebacker and Florida Atlantic commit Rodrick Archer (94.98), Hialeah Champagnat Catholic wide receiver Steven Claude (94.89), Coconut Creek 2015 wide receiver Korron Rozier (93.45), Miami Gulliver Prep 2015 safety Antonyo Sotolongo (92.70), Miami Booker T. Washington 2016 running back Mark Walton (91.47) and West Broward 2016 running back Ricardo Rosario (91.32) round out the athletes from South Florida who had ratings more than 90.

Pembroke Pines Flanagan’s Ryan Stanley was the highest-rated quarterback amongst all participants with an 86.94 rating, marked by a 4.62 40-yard dash, 4.50 20-yard shuttle run and 36-foot kneeling power ball throw.

Miami Coral Reef’s Joe Suarez was the highest-rated defensive lineman with his 88.74 rating, followed by Coconut Creek’s Kermit Silva (87.66), Miami Northwestern’s Keir Thomas (87.48) and Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas’ Wyatt Ray (85.71) and Deerfield Beach’s Jason Strowbridge (84.75).

Aquinas' Samuel Clausman was the highest-rated offensive lineman with an 81.39 score.

Top performers in each event:

--40-yard dash: Miami Christopher Columbus 2016 running back Amir Rasul with a 4.52 time.
--20-yard shuttle run: Plantation 2015 wide receiver Mitch Milfort with a 4.12 time.
--Kneeling power ball throw: Strowbridge with 42 feet.
--Vertical jump: Naples High 2016 running back Carlin Fils Aime with 40.8 inches.

Click here for the complete unofficial results from the Miami NFTC combine. 

February 06, 2014

VIDEO: Homestead WR Ermon Lane talks about signing with FSU

VIDEO: Booker T. Washington's Treon Harris, South Dade WR CJ Worton talk about picking the Gators

VIDEO: Dillard's Randy Ramsey (Arkansas), Bud Martin (FIU) talk Signing Day

VIDEO: Interviews with Aquinas football standouts Moten, Linder, Holmes, London, Absheer on Signing Day

VIDEO: Heritage's Sony Michel, Isaiah McKenzie; Homestead's Gilbert Johnson talk about signing with Georgia

February 05, 2014

Live stream of Signing Day ceremony at Booker T. via South Florida Sports Network

February 04, 2014

NMB receiver Steve Ishmael picks Syracuse

North Miami Beach receiver Steve Ishmael, one of the top remaining uncommitted recruits in South Florida heading into the final days leading up to National Signing Day, committed to Syracuse University on Tuesday.

Ishmael picked the Orange over Cincinnati and Illinois where he will join former NMB teammate Ritchy Desir.

"I just want to go to Syracuse and help build an ACC Champion," Ishmael said. "We will have the opportunity to play against great competition and I am going to my best to get on the field as early as possible. Coach Cubit at Illinois and Coach Gran at Cincinnati did a great job of recruiting me but in the end I felt more at home at Syracuse. Go Orange."

Ishmael earned All-Dade First Team honors this past season, hauling in 68 passes for 951 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Here is a link to a story I wrote on Ishmael before the start of the season.

NMB offensive lineman Osman Aguilera and defensive back Immel Raj are expected to sign with Florida A&M and Highlands Community College, respectively.

> Former NMB defensive back Correy Omeally, who was a JUCO All-American at Elsworth Community College in Iowa this past season, will sign with Texas Christian University Wednesday, NMB coach Jeff Bertaini said. Omeally graduated from NMB in 2012.

-- MANNY NAVARRO

February 03, 2014

Cardinal Gibbons' George Rushing commits to Wisconsin, Trevon Lee picks Duke

George Rushing and Trevon Lee have seen the repercussions coaching changes in college football have had on current and prospective players firsthand.

In the end, choosing the colleges that offered the two Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons wide receivers the most stability where major factors in their decisions.

Rushing announced his commitment to Wisconsin, with Lee deciding to take his talents to Duke. Both made their decisions public on WQAM Monday night.

Rushing, rated a three-star receiver by multiple media outlets, has had a hectic start to 2014 to say the least. He was previously committed to Louisville since May 2013, but Charlie Strong’s departure to take the head coaching position at Texas left Rushing trying to put all the pieces in his recruitment back together since withdrawing his pledge on Jan. 8.

“It’s been crazy,” Rushing said to the Miami Herald about 90 minutes before announcing his decision.
Rushing took official visits to Wisconsin on Jan. 17, Louisville on Jan. 24 and TCU this past weekend in hopes of finding some clarity, and did with a school kept its persistence.

“The only school I’ve known for a really long time has been Wisconsin,” Rushing said. “They’ve been recruiting me since April. They never gave up even when I committed [to Louisville].”

Rushing said getting to know the new staff at Louisville and trying to quickly build a relationship with those at TCU “as kind of hard, but worth it.”

In the end, joining Wisconsin’s pass-heavy offense was the deciding factor for Rushing, who has grown close with Badgers head coach Gary Andersen and wide receivers coach Chris Betty. Rushing should have no problems thriving as he secured the third-most touchdowns amongst players in Miami-Dade and Broward County last season with 13.

“Basically what [Andersen] wants to do is bring in some playmakers to throw the ball” said Rushing, who had 47 catches for 598 yards. “And I feel like I can be that playmaker especially in the Big Ten.”

For Lee, seeing Duke coach David Cutcliffe promote passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery to offensive coordinator once Kurt Roper left for Florida was reassuring to say the least.

“That was a very big factor to me since a lot of coaches have been swapping schools lately,” Lee said before an hour his announcement. “But Coach Roper leaving didn't really affect me, and I know for a fact Coach Cut isn't going anywhere.”

Duke defensive backs coach Derek Jones was also a key component for Lee, who visited the school this past weekend after taking an official visit to Vanderbilt on Jan. 24. Ultimately, Duke provided more stability after seeing James Franklin leave Vandy to take the helm at Penn State.

Lee, who was tied in 15th place amongst Miami-Dade and Broward County players last season with 741 receiving yards, will now share receiving duties with another South Florida stud in Chris Taylor from Davie University School.

“I say we're pretty close,” Lee said of his friendship with Taylor. “Still working on our friendship since we pretty much just met in the middle of this football season, but we're really cool. He's been telling me about the program and why I should go there with him.”

In the meantime for Rushing and Lee, announcing their decisions together was a lasting moment for both.

“It means a lot,” Lee said. “[Rushing has] been my bro since he got to [Cardinal Gibbons] so I'm glad we're ending our recruiting process together. “We both worked very hard for this moment.”

-Two more local prospects announced their commitments Monday night. Miami Columbus linebacker Nick MeBeath will sign with Holy Cross. Miramar quarterback Nick Jeanty will head to New Mexico State.