There was a time when college recruiters would come to south Florida, check out the receivers, running backs and defensive secondary prospects and then head back north to get their linemen. Times have certainly changed.
What has made this region of the country so special now is the quality athletes that you can recruit - and it's not just the skilled position athletes. The linemen we are now producing rival anyplace - and that includes Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio - two of the hotbeds where many schools land the players in the trenches.
Nobody learned that more than Hollywood Hills senior offensive tackle Dusan Etienne. This past summer, the 6-7, 310-pounder, who was on nobody's radar screen, headed to a line camp in Ocala. In just one day, he vaulted himself from a virtual unknown to one of the elite prospects in the state.
Because he played in a Wing-T offense, Etienne was never showcased, but coaches who watched his film, and then saw him compete in person, were bowled over - including two former NFL linemen who worked the camp.
"I always knew that I had the ability, but very few coaches had said anything," Etienne said. "All it takes is for someone to see you, check out your athleticism and things take off."
Hollywood Hills head coach Al Lang always knew that Etienne was special. He watched him play on both sides of the ball, and because he is such an outstanding athlete, it was only a matter of time before he was discovered.
"There has never been any doubt that he is a very special line prospect," Lang said. "He is so athletic that he actually would travel with our 7-on-7 team, and that to me speaks volumes about what he brings to the table."
Etienne is not the only south Florida line prospect that has been turning heads in the Class of 2015. St. Thomas Aquinas also boasts Syracuse bound Colin Byrne (6-5, 295) and Sam Clausman (6-4, 290) as well as FIU commitment Rechard Desir-Jones (6-3, 285) and Philip Parchment (6-4, 280).
In addition there are Leeward Brown (6-4, 300, Miramar), Christian Strachan (6-4, 315, Hialeah Champagnat Catholic), Andy Moreira (6-3, 280, Coral Gables), FIU commit Richard Williams (6-2, 255, Everglades), UAB commitment Kirk Livingstone (6-4, 235, Stranahan), Montel Jordan (6-3, 320, Deerfield), William Gordon (6-4, 318, Norland), and Central’s Jason Jean (6-4, 290), who is committed to Marshall, and returning starter Robzel Sylvester (6-3, 285) as well as American Heritage Plantation’s Noah Bringas (6-4, 320) and Brett Kahn (6-4, 270).
The Class of 2015 is one of the deepest south Florida has had in a long time – with Carol City’s Michael Sawyer (6-3, 265), Marquise Barnes (6-5, 280, Hialeah Miami Lakes), and Booker T. Washington standouts Deiontae Lynch (6-3, 280), Clayton Cobb (6-2, 260) and Ben Tirolia (6-3, 300).
UNDERCLASSMEN ARE IMPRESSIVE AS WELL
As the senior class has set some new standards for offensive linemen, the next two group of players – in the Class of 2016 and 2017, there are some very impressive big men to keep an eye on – such as elite juniors like Edison’s Keldrick Caesar (6-3, 290), Navaughn Donaldson (6-3, 310, Central), Louie Berkowitz (6-3, 260, Plantation American Heritage), Roodney Leon (6-3, 280, Deerfield Beach), Obinna Nwanko (6-3, 255, Miramar) and Michael Davis (6-1, 260), and Boman Swanson (6-4, 245) and Cameron Cope (6-2, 240) from South Dade.
The Class of 2017 is already leaving a mark and getting plenty of attention with prospects such as Teaki Fuller (6-3, 250, Booker T. Washington), Corey Gaynor (6-1, 220, Parkland Douglas), Kedonis Haslem (6-4, 285, Miami Dade Christian), Andre Lopez (6-4, 280, Braddock), Robert Perez (6-2, 270, Cardinal Gibbons) as well as elite prospects Tedarrell Slaton (6-5, 320, Plantation American Heritage), Kyron Taylor, 6-1, 265, Homestead South Dade) and Kadeem Telfort, 6-6, 310, Miami Norland).
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.