September 23, 2015

South Dade running game and defense as strong as it gets

The South Dade football team is starting to look like it can tap the same potential it found in its 2013 state championship-winning season.

While only through three games on this young season, these Buccaneers are similar in how they dominate weaker opponents (40-24 win against Coral Reef and 42-0 win against Palmetto) and come through clutch in tough, tight games (7-6 win vs. Norland), but the 2015 squad is different in many ways too.

While the Bucs from two years had two of Dade County's finest receivers to come out that year in C.J. Worton (Florida Gators) and Tyre Brady (Miami Hurricanes), this year's team relies heavily on the running game -- and they are some of the best at it.

The combination of Jawon Hamilton and Ivan Smith -- a pair of transfers to come in from Coral Reef and Columbus, respectively -- running behind an offensive line rivaled in Dade only by that of Miami Central devastates opposing defenses.

Last Friday against previously unbeaten Palmetto, South Dade ran for five touchdowns in the first half -- three of them coming from Hamilton, the FIU commit.

Hamilton lists three other offers and is also drawing interest from Syracuse and West Virginia. Listen to everything he had to say after the Palmetto game in the video below.


Smith, the speed back out of the two with Hamilton being the balanced workhorse, later ran for a touchdown, and is if that weren't enough, Tre'ven Worthen ran in the score to put the Bucs up five touchdowns and run the clock the entire second half.

They all run behind a massive offensive line that just paves the way led by seniors Boman Swanson and Mike Davis and junior Marshall commit Kyron Taylor.

The defense swarmed the Panthers in the shutout. Junior defensive end Chei Hill, who is currently flying under the radar in recruiting, led the unit with 11 tackles, had a sack and recovered a fumble. This comes after a pair of sacks in the win against Norland. He won't be held down without an offer much longer, I would imagine.


The secondary is spearheaded by UM commit James Wiggins, who is versatile among the DBs, playing both corner and safety. Wiggins had the game-clinching interception against Norland and recorded seven tackles against Palmetto.

Senior linebacker Wyatt Swanson was in on 10 tackles, and senior DB/LB Andrew Matthews showed a nose for the ball with double-digit tackles, as well.

On special teams, South Dade has a kicker to look out for in the next two seasons with 2017 prospect Mark Sanchez.

September 20, 2015

UM lands Jacksonville commit after win against Nebraska

Jacksonville Bolles 2017 three-star safety Ahman Ross decided to commit to the Miami Hurricanes after their 36-33 overtime victory against Nebraska.

Ross has one other offer at this point, and it's from FSU.

The 5-11, 190-pound defensive back attended Saturday's game and told he like the impression he got from talking to Corn Elder, who had an overtime interception to set up the winning score for the Canes.

"This is a solid commitment," he told the Rivals website.

In the bigger picture, UM continues to thrive in its initiative to recruit different areas throughout Florida with Jacksonville being one of the focal points.

Ross' highlights show how sure of a tackler he is and how dynamic of a player he is in the secondary.


September 18, 2015

Recruiting notes from St. Thomas Aquinas-Cypress Bay

-St.Thomas Aquinas five-star defensive end Nick Bosa says "I'm 100-percent committed to Ohio State. I'm not even considering any other schools. I have had a great time during my unofficial visits. I'm excited to go." 

-Senior wide receiver Michael Irvin II remains steadfast committed to UM but is also beginning to show interest in Syracuse. His Hall-of-Fame father, Michael Irvin Sr., once  almost committed to Syracuse before ultimately deciding on the Hurricanes. 

-2017 three-star wide receiver Micheal Harley has already received 10 offers. Harley's top three in order are UM, Syracuse and N.C. State. The 5-11, 160-pound prospect said, "Hurricanes are my first option at this point." 

-Sam Bruce remains fully committed with the Hurricanes. 

-Defensive back Frank Coppet remains committed with Vanderbilt but is expecting an offer this week from Illinois. Coppet has received multiple offers, including Toledo. 

-Cypress Bay wide receiver Andrew Parchment is listing himself as a soft commitment to Cincinnati. He says the other schools he's talking to the most include N.C. State, Tulane, Colorado State, Missouri, Coastal Carolina and Bowling Green.


September 15, 2015

Sleeper studs from four South Florida games this past weekend

I went to four high school games this weekend and got to see plenty of young playmakers at Killian-Coral Reef, Gulliver-Belen, Columbus-Southridge and Deerfield Beach-Blanche Ely.

Here are my top takeaways on some athletes that don't have the impressive offer sheets -- yet.


Darren Davis Jr.: The list for this game has to start with the freshman Columbus running back who scored the game-winning touchdown. He finished with 92 yards on 15 carries. He is a candidate to potentially reclassify and move up a year like Mark Walton did last year, so TBD if he will be a 2018 or 2019 recruit.

Cliff Smith Jr.: On the other side, the Southridge running back and Killian transfer had 51 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Coemba Jones: A shoe-in for any sleeper segment involving Southridge. He's a rover on Southridge's defense playing all over the field. At 5-8 and 165, the junior is listed as a DB on the roster but will play linebacker and more than hold his own getting through blocks from big offensive linemen and knocking ball carriers backwards. A flat-out true football player that's always around the ball. If he were 6-0, 210 pounds, he'd be a five-star recruit.

CJ Henderson: Junior Columbus running back had 51 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

Randy Charlton: He's just a sophomore at defensive end and is 6-4 and 200 pounds. Tremendous motor on Southridge's defensive line and it showed when he earned a sack late in the first half.

Malik Spatcher: You know about Freddie Pinder, Kemore Gamble and probably Rodney Scott as well in the Ridge's receiving corps. Pinder was out, and Spatcher led the Spartans in receiving, including a touchdown right before halftime.

*Other Columbus playmakers included a lot of names you've already heard -- UM commits Josh Uche and Josh Jobe had a sack and interception respectively, Jerron Rollins had a big boy catch inside the Southridge 5 to set up the game-winning touchdown and the heavily-recruited Trajan Bandy clinched the victory with a last-second interception.


We didn't even make it through three quarters in this one because the lights went out at Ely after a lengthy delay to kickoff, but I was still able to see plenty of talent.

Teddrick Moffett: Deerfield QB threw three touchdowns and ran for another. Even with the elite group of receivers he has, they need someone to get them the ball and he gets the job done. He finished with 153 passing yards.

Alton Allen: Had an impressive touchdown catch at the end of the first half and also proved effective carrying the ball for Deerfield.

David Francis: Middle linebacker and captain for Ely. Exhibits leadership qualities on defense and had a diving interception on a ball deflected at the line of scrimmage.

Trevor Goodrum Jr.: Tall and long at 6-4. It worked to his advantage when he had the tipped ball that eventually was picked off by Francis.

Geremy Taylor: Caught a touchdown on fourth down before the lights went out, also had a long reception down the sideline with his finger tips.

Emmitt Burton/Jimmie Harper: Undersized defensive lineman that make plays. Burton forced a fumble that Harper recovered.

Brion Byrd: A 5-10, 210-pound junior linebacker for the Bucks, he really gets after a ball carrier. He had a sack for a loss of 10 on one blitz.

Kimar Martin: Had a huge interception for Deerfield in the end zone. Just has to learn when not to run it out of the end zone, but that can be taught. He a senior cornerback.


Joshua King: With UM commit Bentavious Thompson out, King was the only running back available for coach Cory Johnson. He handled the large workload well with more than 20 carries and was over 100 yards rushing in the first quarter.

Randy Shannon Jr.: The Coral Reef senior linebacker was very active defensively in on several tackles plus picking off a pass.

Romelo Brooks: Linebacker for Killian that was just as active. Brooks delivers some mean hits, and he was playing with a cast on his forearm.

Theodore Williams: Had the biggest play of the night when he forced a fumble late in the fourth quarter when Coral Reef was trying to run out the clock.

Juwan Horn: Recovered the fumble Williams forced and nearly scored on it.

Yoko Poole: He's only 5-8, 150 pounds, but he can really hit. He also had an interception on Thursday.

Jordan Dillard: The sophomore receiver has impressive size and used it to catch the game-winning touchdown.

Antwan Collier: It actually wasn't the touchdown that won it; it was the two-point conversion that Collier ran in on a read-option. Collier added four catches for 67 yards.

Mehki Ervan: As clutch as it gets with a 20-yard reception up the seam on 4th down on the final drive. It set up a chance at a long field goal to win it.

Nico Jacquemin: The Coral Reef kicker booted a 39-yarder and a 29-yarder through the uprights. Don't blame him for missing the game-winner -- it was from 59 yards out.

Robert McWilliams: Looked good coming off the edge for a sack.

Deandre Johnson: The junior defensive end looks the part with solid size for that edge pass-rushing hybrid player at the next level.

Michael Martinez: The Killian junior linebacker is a solid tackler.

Cariq Rackley: Remember this freshman quarterback. He shrugged off two early interceptions to finish with 161 passing yards.

*Worth noting: Coral Reef quarterback Gio Salazar hooked up with Jeremy Fernandez for a beautiful touchdown pass.*


Giovanni Menocal: The 6-1, 210-pound linebacker is a monster tackler, looks a lot like another Menocal to come out of Belen that ended up at Georgia Tech.

Tavish Rice: Elite kicker. Connected on all three field-goal attempts. Committed to Princeton.

Joseph Garcia: A senior who doubles at running back and linebacker, Garcia ran big in the early going and recovered a fumble late on defense. He holds a Bethune-Cookman offer, and should get more this season.

Ariel Jimenez: Hits like he's shot out of a cannon at safety, absolutely punished UM commit Joseph Jackson on a pass over the middle where Jackson was in on offense and his QB led him into Jimenez. Big mistake.

Sebastian Leiter: Forced the fumble that Garcia recovered on a sack.

Giancarlo Pinto: Led the Wolverines in rushing and had a late touchdown run.

Walker Gautier: Had five receptions for 47 yards to lead the Raiders.

*There wasn't too much else from Gulliver. The other standouts were the players that are being recruited heavily -- UM commits Cedrick Wright (was an absolute monster with 27 tackles, knew where the ball was going every play reading Belen's Wing-T), Joseph Jackson (sack and forced fumble) and Robert Burns (carrying the load and leading the Raiders in rushing) -- but this segment is supposed to be about the sleepers.


September 12, 2015

Bandy hearing from several elite programs, Jobe is 'all about the U'

Columbus junior cornerback Trajan Bandy sealed the Explorers' 17-13 victory against Southridge Friday night with an interception and postgame spoke a little bit about recruiting.

Alabama, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Tennessee and Clemson are schools Bandy says are coming after him the hardest.

Coaches from these programs have high praise for him.

"They know I'm a 5-9 corner, but they like my ball skills, the way I play," Bandy says. "As a matter of fact, a Clemson coach told me I remind him of [UF cornerback] Vernon Hargreaves how I go up at the high point of the ball, make plays."

On Friday, Bandy did exactly that when he rose to snag the game-clinching interception as time expired.

"They told me I had to make a play," Bandy said. "I know the team is counting on me, and I had to go up and make a play on the ball."


He wasn't the only one to make a game-changing play late for Columbus.

Jerron Rollins went up and made a tremendous catch to get the Explorers from midfield to inside the 10, and freshman running back Darren Davis Jr., who may eventually be able to reclassify to 2018, scored the game-winning touchdown on a sweep to the right.

"Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games," Bandy said. "And that was a big-time play by Jerron Rollins. He went up and he grabbed that ball, and let me tell you, the freshman Darren Davis -- he's an unbelievable athlete. He's like a little cousin to me."

Another big play but a little earlier in the second half was the interception 2018 UM commit Josh Jobe made.

Jobe committed to the Canes very early in the recruiting process, but he makes it clear he plans on going nowhere else. Check everything he had to say in the video below.


The other Columbus UM commit, 2016 defensive end Josh Uche, had a sack in the game and could've had another but overran the quarterback. Uche can beat a single pass protector with ease, but one thing coaches are working on with him is to break down, contain and wrap up better once he reaches the quarterback so that he can finish those plays and earn the sack after beating the offensive tackle one-on-one.

September 11, 2015

Edison OL Cesar down to top three, other Edison-Ferguson notes

Three-star Edison offensive lineman Keldrick Cesar lists a top three of USF, UM and Syracuse -- in that order. Cesar, the mammoth 6-3, 310-pound senior, has received 10 offers and taken unofficial visits to UF last week and USF in the summer.
Cesar has offers from USF and Syracuse and is waiting on one from the Canes. He could not stop talking about the Bulls.
"I had a great time at my unofficial visits this summer at USF," Cesar said. "I really liked it there." 
Edison wide receiver Alberto Peña (5-10, 160) has received interest from SEC schools Tennessee and Georgia but has yet to receive an offer. He has also received interest from Tulane.  
Linebacker Gerald Payoute and Ferguson tight end Brandon Wood have not heard from colleges yet, but coaches from both teams are expecting college coaches to come calling soon.

September 10, 2015

Killian 2017 DB Juwan Horn might commit on the spot if offered by Canes

Junior Killian defensive back Juwan Horn had a big fumble recovery and return to the 7-yard line on Thursday night against Coral Reef to set up the eventual game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion.

Horn currently lists a Temple offer he's had since he was a freshman, but is also receiving interest from UM, UCF and Purdue. He adds that if the Canes offer, it might be a done deal with him joining teammate and running back Bentavious Thompson in their 2017 recruiting class.

Here's everything Horn had to say in this exclusive interview with the Miami Herald.



September 07, 2015

Elbre Gaiter a playmaker for Westminster Christian, other notes from WC-Sebring

Saturday's game Westminster Christian hosted against Sebring was cut short by lightning, but the athletes still had plenty of time to show off their talents.

Senior wide receiver Elbre Gaiter scored twice in the third quarter -- once on a pass and the other on a 1-yard run -- to ignite a comeback from down 21-0 to 21-13 before a second lightning delay eventually ended the contest.

Now with Jordan Cronkrite and Tim Irvin gone, Gaiter is relied upon heavily with the Warriors, but he's certainly up for the task. Although only 5-8, he's a speedster and makes people miss in the open field -- and often times in the not-so-open field.

Gaiter has some of his top offers from Louisville, Wisconsin, Duke, USF, FIU, Indiana and UCF. He says he currently has no leaders among that group.

"Once I take some [official visits], I'll have some," he says.

John Raine, a 6-3, 235-pound tight end, possesses the perfect size you look for in a tight end at the next level. Raine looks the part to be able to dominate the middle as a blocker and pass catcher. He'll need to improve his hands. One ball that went off his hands against Sebring proved costly as a Blue Streaks defender picked it off and took it back for six.

Raine is currently committed to FAU and lists several other offers, but he is now also receiving interest from UM and tight ends coach Larry Scott. Purdue has also recently jumped on board in recruiting him.

James Sutton is a beast and leader on defense. The Colorado State commit fights off blocks well and gets momentum going downhill for tackles for loss. He's currently playing a lot of defensive end for Westminster but his 6-1, 215-pound frame is college ready at linebacker.

Linebackers Daniel Duasso and Darian Stephenson recovered fumbles in the game. Stephenson has size that would translate well to the next level. Quarterback Christian Matos proved when he gets hot he can be extremely dangerous. He completed his final six pass attempts before the game went final. Seniors Akil Oliver and Daren Jones are others to keep an eye on.

Sebring brought some formidable talent to South Florida on Saturday.

Junior defensive end/linebacker Demaratre Loculien plays with a mean streak and presents challenges for offensive tackles trying to block him one on one. Sophomore offensive guard Anthony Healy (already 6-6, 305) was by far the largest player on the field and moved well for a player his size. Keep an eye on him and remember that name.

Senior athlete Duran Randolph is a playmaker and was the Gaiter equivalent for Sebring. He scored twice Saturday -- once on the ground and once through the air. Quarterback Brian Lane, just a sophomore, stands tall in the pocket and is composed as he finds an open receiver. Junior receiver Marqueiz Pride can go up and get a ball over a defender, and senior defensive back DyGeriyan Barge had a pick six.


Top prospects shine in Flanagan-Creek matchup

Friday night's Flanagan-Coconut Creek matchup was a star-studded affair with 14 prospects in the Miami Herald's lists for top 50 seniors and top 25 juniors in Broward County -- and several others not on those lists that stepped up in the big game.

After lightning delayed kickoff, the night began with some smack talk during team stretches between two of Broward's elite -- 2016 four-star cornerback Trayvon Mullen for Coconut Creek and 2017 four-star cornerback Stanford Samuels of Flanagan. They weren't the only two. Several others from both sides were jawing back and forth. Coach Devin Bush, with a game face probably reserved for his FSU or NFL days, had to reiterate to his players to focus on getting warmed up as opposed to becoming preoccupied with talking to the opponent.

Samuels and Mullen both excelled on the gridiron once the game began. Samuels rarely -- if at all -- played corner as he was consumed with the quarterbacking duties in place of the injured Champagnat transfer and Akron commit Kato Nelson. His numbers weren't flashy (4-of-16 passing for 37 yards and 31 rushing yards on 13 carries), but he also didn't turn the ball over, which was critical in a game mostly dominated by the defenses. Samuels also had the key rushing touchdown on the opening drive, which appeared to be all the scoring the Falcons would need for most of the game.

Jhakari Harrison, the Southern Illinois commit and quarterback in this game who is being recruited for his ability to throw the ball, was flustered with a Falcon in his face for most of the night but turned it on late to ignite a near comeback.

Flanagan's "Dirty Bird" defense had nine sacks and hurried Harrison several other times. Defensive back Nikholi Jahgai and linebacker Jordan Eubanks, two of the slimmer guys involved in an array of exotic blitzes Flanagan utilized, combined for six of those sacks. On one first-half scoring chance in the red zone, Harrison threw for Mullen in the end zone, but corner Rocco Marucci established great position and went up for it to bring it down for the interception.

The Falcons came out hyped and were hitting hard -- one Charles Williams stick in the early going comes to mind. But there were also instances where it worked to their detriment. Michigan commit Devin Gil could've had an interception that would've surely gone all the way back had he looked for the ball instead of the hit on the receiver on one errant pass that resulted from a miscommunication on a route.

Flanagan really looked like it was poised for a shutout until Harrison and the Cougars got it going late.

After Anthony Johnson ran for a touchdown with seven minutes remaining to put the Falcons up 21-0 following a Jahcour Pearson two-point conversion, the Creek offense, whether it be by desperation or Flanagan softening up its coverage, experienced a revival in the final five minutes.

Harrison hit Binjimen Victor, who was skying for some monster catches throughout, and then Mullen twice before finding Victor again at the pylon for the first score. Flanagan pinned Creek down to the 3-yard line, and Harrison found Mullen for a 97-yard touchdown on the next offensive play. The Cougars got the ball back once more, but Jahvari Bourdeau picked off Harrison with 0.9 seconds remaining to seal it.

Coconut Creek class of 2017 recruits Kobe Green and Lashawn Paulino. The defensive back Green was part of a secondary that didn't allow much through the air, was active up front in stopping the run and even came in on a blitz to get a sack. Paulino, who stands tall at defensive end at 6-4 and 230 pounds, effectively sealed the edge for the Cougars.

Flanagan kicker Angel Trujillo connected on two field goals and had another one blocked, which Mullen then landed on.


September 05, 2015

Boyd Anderson standouts Lewis and Telfort getting local interest

Boyd Anderson linebacker Ricky Lewis said he has received interest from UM, FIU and FAU, but he is still waiting for his first offer from an FBS program. 

The senior said he would like to attend the University of Miami. Boyd Anderson coach Eddie Brown spent the first half of the team's win over Douglas Friday night wearing a hat with the "U" logo, so he probably wouldn't mind seeing the defensive leader of the Cobras in the green and orange next year. Lewis earned "Best Linebacker" honors during one of the Al Golden Football Camps earlier this summer in June. 

The 6-2, 210-pound 2016 prospect manhandled the Douglas offensive line all night, finishing the game with five sacks and two forced fumbles. 

Similar to Lewis, Boyd Anderson junior quarterback Shabazz Telfort has also received interest from UM, FIU and FAU, but still has not been offered by a school. Telfort said he has also received been hearing from Auburn, but that is not the SEC school he wants to hear from in his recruiting process.

The mobile quarterback with a huge arm is a fan of LSU and would like to play college ball for the Tigers. Telfort shredded the Douglas secondary Friday night, throwing for 239 yards and three touchdowns on 16-of-29 passing.