It’s clear that coach Javier Valdes is the right man for the job at Coral Reef.
With two years of head coaching experience building Mater Academy’s program to the point of its first playoff appearance last season, Valdes takes over at Coral Reef, a program that has seen success in recent years but then fell on tough times with a 2-8 season in 2014.
A new coach, a new district (15-8A) and solid prospects in a talent-rich neighborhood in the south has football at the Reef back on the rise.
“The guys have already taken into the culture and the mentality that we’re trying to build and are working really hard,” Valdes says. “I feel like there’s a lot of talent here that was untapped, and I think if you give them the system, they buy in and they work their tail off, they start building championship habits. Good things are going to follow.”
--Harvey Clayton Jr., a 2016 athlete who already lists offers from Louisville, Temple and Alcorn State, tops the senior class for the Barracudas.
At 6-2, 185 pounds, he already has ideal size and ball skills to translate to a cornerback that could match up with possession receivers at the next level.
Offensively, he lines up at wide receiver and can go up and get a ball over a defender in single coverage – like he did at one point in the end zone in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“We’re expecting a lot of big things from him – not only as a leader on the field – but as a playmaker,” Valdes says. “I think Harvey gives us an X-factor any time we line up on Friday nights.”
N.C. State, Miami and Cincinnati have also shown interest recently.
--2017 linebacker/safety Colvin Alford received his first offer from Temple on Tuesday and has received interest from the likes of Nebraska, Florida, Miami, USF, N.C. State, FIU and FAU.
After watching him, it’s obvious why so many schools like him as he heads into the summer between his sophomore and junior years. At 6-0 and close to 200 pounds, Alford presents Coral Reef with versatility on defense both at linebacker and safety. He had an impressive interception on a poorly thrown ball at the scrimmage.
“Dynamic playmaker, he’s got a physical presence but he’s athletic enough to cover at safety or outside backer,” Valdes says. “He makes plays in the box, he makes plays all over the field. Eventually he’ll be making plays with the ball in his hands.
Alford lists Nebraska as an early front-runner once he gets an offer from the Corn Huskers.
--Brian Castro, a 2016 leader on the offensive line at 6-2, 250 was a beast on Saturday.
“Real smart football player and student,” Valdes says. “He plays physical and is the leader of the offensive line, brings the nastiness and is going to help our power run game.”
--Randy Shannon Jr. was out on the field playing middle linebacker and wearing his father’s old No. 22 that Randy Shannon wore as a Hurricane.
With his father now the defensive coordinator with the Florida Gators, one might assume he may end up at UF – if not through scholarship, as a preferred walk-on – but Valdes says the scholar athlete who brings “a calming presence” to the defense will likely go a separate route.
“They don’t want to play for each other; they’re going to make it their own way,” he says – a notion that Shannon Jr. himself confirmed to me.
Shannon Jr., a 6-0, 215-pound 2016 prospect, has seen interest from FIU, FAU, Buffalo, Georgetown, Cornell, Colgate and Fordham.
--Coral Reef has a slew of talented 2018 prospects that its new coaching staff can surely build upon. There’s quite a few to list, but two that really stood out to me were running back Jordon Donaldson and lineman Jaylaan Williams.
Donaldson possesses the vision, burst and ability to make sharp, quick cuts. Williams is an absolute monster at 6-3 and weighs between 280 and 290 as he wraps up his freshman year; he was seen lining up at left tackle.
--2016 RB Mehki Ervan runs with a low center of gravity at 5-7 and can run a defender over if he doesn’t meet him with proper technique. He also has great footwork.
Coral Reef will hold its spring game on Wednesday against Edison at Harris Field.