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.


AP High School football rankings - week 4

Florida High School Football Poll

   By The Associated Press

   The Associated Press Top 10 Florida high school football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records, rating points and previous rankings:

Class 8A

                                              Record  Pts Prv

 1. Apopka (16)                                3-0    168 1

 2. Flanagan (1)                       2-0    150 2

 3. Columbus                            3-0    135 3

 4. Kissimmee Osceola                          3-0    119 4

 5. West Orange                                3-0    98  7

 6. Vero Beach                                 2-0    89  6

 7. Atlantic Community                         2-0    49  8

 8. Dr. Phillips                               2-1    45  5

 9. Fort Pierce Central                        3-0    28  10

10. Mandarin                                   3-0    23  NR

   Others receiving votes: South Dade 9, Coral Gables 5, Sandalwood 4, Plantation 3, Miramar 3, University (Orange City) 3, Southridge 2, Oak Ridge 1, Manatee 1. 

Class 7A

                                              Record  Pts Prv

 1. St. Thomas Aquinas (17)                   3-0     170 1

 2. Oakleaf                                   3-0     146 3

 3. Dwyer                                     2-0     132 4

 4. Venice                                    3-0     119 5

 5. Braden River                              3-0     90  6

 6. Lakeland                                  2-1     70  2

 7. South Fort Myers                          3-0     66  7

 8. Winter Haven                              3-0     54  9

 9. Plant                                     2-1     48  8

10. Columbia                                  3-0     25  10

   Others receiving votes: Sickles 10, Viera 3, Mater Academy 2.

Class 6A

                                              Record  Pts Prv

 1. Mainland (15)                             3-0     177 1

 2. Armwood                                   2-0     157 2

 3. Miami Central (3)                         2-1     144 3

 4. St. Augustine                             3-0     115 4

 4. Escambia                               3-0     115 T6

 6. Naples                                    1-1     71  T6

 7. Tate                                      2-0     55  8

 8. Navarre                                   2-0     37  9

 9. Choctawhatchee                            2-1     27  5

10. Niceville                                 2-1     21  10

   Others receiving votes: Charlotte 19, Carol City 19, Clearwater 11, Norland 11, Heritage 8, Dillard 2, Pine Forest 1. 

Class 5A

                                              Record  Pts Prv

 1. Hallandale (13)                           2-0     172 1

 2. Plantation American Heritage (4)          2-1     158 2

 3. Bishop Moore (1)                          3-0     151 3

 4. North Marion                              3-0     125 4

 5. Rickards                                  3-0     107 5

 6. Wakulla                                   2-1     78  7

 7. Coconut Creek                             2-1     66  8

 8. Jesuit                                    3-0     57  9

 9. Suwannee                                  1-1     23  10

10. Miami Jackson                             1-1     16  NR

   Others receiving votes: Ponte Vedra 14, Godby 13, Palm Bay 4, West Florida 2, Bay 2, Crystal River 1, Hardee 1. 

Class 4A

                                              Record  Pts Prv

 1. Bolles School (16)                        3-0     178 2

 2. Raines                                    3-0     151 4

 3. Cocoa (2)                                 2-1     139 1

 4. South Sumter                              3-0     130 5

 5. Booker T. Washington                          1-2     54  3

   Others receiving votes: Dunnellon 25, Clewiston 24, Lake Highland 13, Avon Park 6.

Class 3A

                                              Record  Pts Prv

 1. Trinity Christian-Jacksonville (17)       3-0     170 1

 2. Lakeland Christian                        3-0     139 2

 3. Clearwater Central Catholic               3-0     130 3

 4. Delray American Heritage                  2-1     119 4

 5. Tampa Catholic                            3-0     93  5

   Others receiving votes: Oxbridge Academy 21, Calvary Christian-Clearwater 8. 

Class 2A

                                              Record  Pts Prv

 1. University Christian (9)                  2-1     158 1

 2. Northside Christian (2)                   3-0     144 3

 3. Dade Christian (4)                        2-0     132 4

 4. Moore Haven (1)                           3-0     121 5

 5. North Florida Christian (1)               2-2     107 2

   Others receiving votes: Carrollwood Day 12, Glades Day 6. 

Class 1A

                                              Record  Pts Prv

 1. Fort Meade (15)                           3-0     185 1

 2. Trenton (3)                               3-0     169 4

 3. Pahokee                                   2-0     155 3

 4. Union County (1)                          3-0     129 5

 5. Port St. Joe                              1-1     60  2

   Others receiving votes: Vernon 36, South Walton 20, Blountstown 6.

September 01, 2015

Colleges contact 2017 recruits for first time

At midnight Tuesday, college coaches were able to contact 2017 recruits (juniors in high school) for the first time via direct messages on Twitter, and several talented prospects in Dade and Broward had coaches contact them right away.

Coaches are still unable to contact juniors over the phone, but many rushed to "slide into their DMs," as they say.

Up to this point for 2017 kids, a recruit would've had to reach out to the coach recruiting him -- no contact initiated by the coach -- after that college coach has expressed interest in the prospect to the recruit's high school coach. (Confusing, I know, and I probably could've worded that better. But anyway, here are some of these recruits and the schools that have contacted them):

I will update this as I continue to receive updates.

Stanford Samuels, Flanagan CB: South Carolina, LSU, West Virginia, Clemson, Rutgers, UCF, Georgia, FSU, Oklahoma, Michigan, Tennessee.

De'Andre Wilder, Carol City LB: Michigan, Notre Dame, Alabama, LSU, UM, UF.

Jake Allen, St. Thomas Aquinas QB (UF commit): UF, Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Colorado, UCF, Rutgers, South Carolina, Duke.

Jake Lichtenstein, Cypress Bay DE: FAU, Purdue, Northwestern, UCF, FSU, Virginia, California.

Kadeem Telfort, Norland OL (UF commit): Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, UM, UCF, UF.

Marco Wilson, American Heritage CB: UM, Tennessee, Alabama, Notre Dame, UF, UCF, FAU.

Waynmon Steed, Miami Central LB (UM commit): UM, UF. 

Naytron Culpepper, American DB: Syracuse, Alabama, UCF, FSU, Middle Tennessee State (according to 247 Sports).

Kevaughn Dingle, Carol City WR: UM, Tennessee (according to 247 Sports).

Daewood Davis, Stranahan WR  (Syracuse commit): Purdue, Temple, UCF, Syracuse, Pittsburgh.

Jonathan Ford, Dillard DE: UM, Alabama, UCF, Purdue, South Carolina.

Mike Epstein, St. Thomas Aquins RB (Illinois commit): Syracuse, Purdue, Tennessee, Kentucky, Cincinnati, FAU, Arizona State, Illinois, Temple, UCF, Duke, Colorado, Western Michigan, Stanford, Miami (OH), Vanderbilt, Central Michigan.

Tyler Dunning, St. Thomas Aquinas LB (UM commit): UM, Pittsburgh, Alabama, UCF, Arkansas, Syracuse, Temple, Purdue.

Clevan Thomas, Flanagan WR: UCF, FAU.

Kyshaun Bryan, American Heritage RB: UF, FSU, Virginia Tech, Clemson, UM, Colorado, Alabama, West Virginia, Arkansas, Ohio State.

*You can notice some consistencies with what schools are recruiting South Florida the hardest.

Homer as solid as it gets with Canes

One UM commit looking to go nowhere else anytime soon: Oxbridge Academy running back Travis Homer.

Since deciding to commit at the UM 7-on-7 this summer, he's one of the more solid commits out of the 22 in the Canes' class of 2016.

"I just wanted to be a man of my word, and I wanted to stay committed wherever I committed," said Homer after a win against Gulliver on Friday. "That's why I took a little while to commit."


Coach Al Golden, while not the only reason for his commitment, played a major role in it. 

Golden made a much stronger impression on him and his mother, Karri Valot, than other coaches that have tried to recruit Homer. Valot feels Golden is an overall great person and not just a coach trying to recruit a four-star prospect. Homer has expressed similar positive sentiments about Golden to me in a previous interview.

"Golden appears to have a great character," Valot said in a message. "It seems like his moral compass points in the right direction, and those qualities are important to me when it comes to my kids."

Barring any unforeseen changes, Homer has shut down his recruitment and won't take any official visits other than UM at this time.

In Friday's 46-0 win that Homer and his Oxbridge ThunderWolves had over Gulliver, Homer got the best of fellow UM commits Joseph Jackson, Cedrick Wright and Robert Burns.

"I think it was just great to play against them -- teammate against teammate, just get some chemistry between us," said Homer, who finished with 90 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries plus 31 receiving yards on two catches, including one where he caught it in the flat and leaped over a defender diving for his legs.


Jackson, a four-star defensive end, joked postgame that most of Homer's yards were gained running away from his side of the defense. Jackson, who also had a couple of catches at tight end, moved inside and outside on the defensive line and was in the backfield plenty but the quick, short passing game for the ThunderWolves would get the ball out of the quarterback's hands before Jackson could get there.

Wright was kept busy at safety. With the defense on the field most of the game and ThunderWolves skill players getting into the secondary often, he finished with 17 tackles.

Burns, the junior four-star running back, only carried the ball one time. The Raiders would offer no explanation as to why postgame. Dionte Mullins, a four-star senior receiver for Gulliver who is also committed to the Canes, did not travel to West Palm Beach for the game due to academic ineligibility.

August 12, 2015

"Pie" Young has Alabama and Michigan at the top

In a recent interview with the Miami Herald, Miami High four-star wide receiver Keyshawn "Pie" Young listed Alabama and Michigan as his top two schools.

According to Young, he speaks with Michigan's new head coach Jim Harbaugh every day, which is rare to see so much contact come from a head coach recruiting one player.

"He makes me feel like he needs me as a player, he wants me as a player, he feels like I could fit in with Michigan," says the 5-11, 175-pound 2016 prospect. "He talks about how he loves Michigan."

With the Crimson Tide, Young is getting recruited by Mario Cristobal, a man with countless South Florida ties.

"Coach Cristobal, I love that guy," Young says. "If I'm having a bad day, he'll pick me up, put a smile on my face."

After Young's top two, he also has a few schools that he lists as "in the hunt."

Miami, Georgia, West Virginia and USC are the schools Young currently has in that second tier.

Young says the other schools need to show more interest in order to creep into the mix.

"Show me that you want me at your school," he says.



August 04, 2015

Johnny Huntley commits to Colorado

South Plantation three-star wide receiver Johnny Huntley announced a commitment to Colorado on Tuesday.

Huntley chose the Buffaloes over offers from Louisville, TCU, Tennessee and West Virginia among his list of 17 total offers.

"It felt like home on the visit and they love me," Huntley said in a message.

Colorado is not a school known to dip into the state of Florida in recruiting. Huntley becomes the first Florida prospect in a Colorado recruiting class since Apopka's Henley Griffon in 2010.

The last South Florida high school football player to end up with Colorado was Northeast outside linebacker Josh Hartigan in 2007.

August 02, 2015

August 01, 2015

Former UM pledge Snelson commits to Minnesota

Dredrick Snelson went from Al Golden to the Golden Gophers.

The four-star senior wide receiver, who transferred from Plantation American Heritage to Flanagan this offseason, announced on Saturday that he would be committing to Minnesota.


In an interview with Rivals' Gopher Illustrated, Snelson said, "I'm so excited. I love everything about the program, so I'm feeling pretty good about my decision.

"I wanted to go to a program that needed me, not just wanted me... I can come in and play early and make an impact. I can fill in for the main receiver they have there right now."

Snelson joins Cardinal Gibbons' Elijah and Elisha Daniels as Broward County prospects committed to Minnesota.

He chose the Gophers over offers from practically all over the country, including Miami, Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Notre Dame.

Snelson was committed to the Hurricanes early in the recruiting process before ultimately decommitting during his junior season at American Heritage.

July 30, 2015

FIU gets commitment from Norland's Bryon Brown

Norland senior cornerback Bryon Brown committed to FIU on Thursday.

The 6-1, 180-pound unranked 2016 prospect who goes by the nickname of "Lockdown Brown" joins a Panthers recruiting class that now lists 10 total commits, including two other corners in Jacksonville Ed White's Jadarius Byrd and Tampa Bay Tech's Isiah Brown.

"Very athletic, long DB with good speed," Norland coach Daryle Heidelburg says. "He can play both corner and safety. Plus Norland has had good success with its players at FIU, and Bryon will continue that trend."

FIU currently has junior linebacker Treyvon Williams out of Norland who last season appeared in all 12 games, started in nine and was second on the team with 50 total tackles.

Brown's highlights:

July 29, 2015

Rasul discusses flip from UM to FSU

  Amir RasulSo why did four-star 2016 running back Amir Rasul recently flip his commitment from UM to FSU?

“What made me flip was pretty much I was looking at the future,” Rasul told the Miami Herald. “UM really didn’t have a good season [last] year, Golden will probably be gone and they’ll be looking for a new head coach. I didn’t want to be in that situation going into my freshman year.

“Ultimately, I think UM is a good school. It’s an awesome school, but at the moment I think FSU’s a better school for me.”

Rasul also said he was promised by FSU it would only take one running back per class over the next few years, so waiting to see if Miami did indeed have a rough season could have resulted in another back taking his spot.

“Florida State really wants me now, and if I make this decision now, I’ll probably have a much better future than being committed to UM,” Rasul says. “It’s a hard commit. I’m not trying to change right now.”

Rasul adds that he still looks at South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee but is unlikely to change his mind at this point.

Being in such close proximity geographically to UM’s campus, Rasul says he’s had to take some criticism from hometown fans as of late.

“I’ve gotten a couple of choice words from some people in the area, but that’s OK,” he says. “If they don’t hate you, then you’re not doing something right.”

Rasul also looks at the way Dalvin Cook (formerly of Miami Central) scored the game-winning touchdown against the Hurricanes as a freshman last season and could see himself having similar success against the hometown team.

“That’s amazing – to do that and in addition be at home,” he says. “Going out the next day and knowing you did that against your hometown – that’s going to be spectacular.”

What can we expect out of Rasul in his senior season after breaking out running the ball as a junior?

He says improving his versatility. Rasul will be on returns and be more active in the passing game. He essentially wants to do all the things critics are saying he can’t do.

“You’re always going to have some doubters, people saying you can’t do this, you can’t do that,” Rasul says. “That’s OK. If I wasn’t doing great things, people wouldn’t be talking about it at all.”

Rasul is an exceptional student on top of being a top-of-the-line football recruit.

His junior year he bumped his grade point average from a 2.8 to a 3.4 and took a pair of AP courses – statistics and economics. He plans on taking an introductory calculus course and finding a challenging science class his senior year.

He had thoughts of being an early enrollee, but since he runs track, he will make sure to do that the spring semester of his senior year before getting right to college next summer.