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Blu's Blog: Recruiting Takes Center Stage Year Round In South Florida

Larry BlockSFHSSports: Twitter | Facebook

If you happen to be a college football coach, this is the time of year that you put your own program on the front burner. But even though the college team becomes a priority, recruiting cannot be too far behind.

In this world of many people talking to athletes, trying to change their mind about a college choice, the college coaches who invite many of these athletes on campus during the summer and seeing them in person during the spring, have to pull double duty – and it's not easy at all.

Recruiting has gotten to a point where not showing a prospect "love" during the season could definitely come back and haunt these programs on National Signing Day. It plays out every year.

"A recruit doesn't care that you have a game and need to prepare for the opponent," one college coach, who has recruited South Florida for 22 years, admitted. "They want to hear from you to make sure that they are still a priority, and I can fully understand that."

Because so many people try to get involved when it comes to giving advice to these athletes, college coaches are fighting an uphill battle, especially in South Florida – where so many "adults" continue to want to be a part of the story.

What has been so great about this region of the country, when it comes to producing marquee football, is something that is also working against us as well. The reputation of too many people getting involved in the recruitment, truly scares some programs and coaches away.

"There is certainly a problem with some of those South Florida athletes who have "representatives" try and do their talking," the coach pointed out. "I know that this has been going on for a long time, but now it's starting to cost these young men – who are being passed over by colleges they can play at – but have baggage, which is not what colleges need or want."

Even though some of those people who help athletes believe they are doing no harm to these young athletes by giving them advice on college programs, those on the other side of it say otherwise and find it tough to deal with people who try an influence a decision.

"South Florida is the greatest area in the country for talent," Dana Wiley of Prep Films explained. "Sometimes everyone wants to get involved in the recruitment and some college coaches are not thrilled with that, at all."

As South Florida remains the leader in the race to fill collegiate rosters nationally, there will always be the issue that has driven some away – while others thrive on it, knowing the rewards are so great.

For the first four weeks of the season, South Florida football fans talked about St. Thomas Aquinas, Booker T. Washington, Deerfield Beach, Flanagan, Southridge, Northwestern and American Heritage. Not much was spoken about Miami Central.

While the Rockets didn't start the season with games against high-profile national schools like they have in much of the past decade, this program still demanded the respect that any national powerhouse gets.

Coming into last Saturday night's key matchup at Traz Powell Stadium with fellow four-time defending state champion Booker T. Washington, the Rockets showed everyone why they are still among the best team in the country, and easily Florida's top school.

The 42-14 win over the Tornadoes was unexpected in a series that is usually close, but that statement made by head coach Roland Smith and his team was heard across the country – where many of these schools that are ahead of Central – could never compete with the depth this program has.

"We came out here to play hard and work on things against the best opponent we matched up against this season," Smith admitted. "We still have things to work on, and we have to do it fast. We have a team won our district (Carol City) this coming week."

2018 – Jaquan Beaver, OLB
2017 – Richard Dames, DB
2017 – Rishard Dames, DB
2017 – Teaki Fuller, OL
2017 – Derek Geter, LB
2018 – Robert Hicks, DE
2018 – Detron Holloway, DB
2018 – Antquan Kinsey, LB
2018 – Tyler Jackson, DL
2017 – Sharod Johnson, WR
2017 – Brian Livingston, WR
2017 – Dedrick Mackey, S
2017 – Craig Nelson, RB
2017 – Willa Pierre, OL
2017 – Isaac Readon II, LB
2019 – Daniel Richardson, QB
2019 – Gregory Riddick, DB
2017 – Kadeem Telfort, OL
2017 – Guy Thomas, DE
2018 – Tyquan Thornton, WR
2018 – Anthony Turner, DL
2018 – Zahir Turner, WR

2017 – Owen Carney, DE
2018 – James Cook, RB
2019 – Willie Davis, IV, RB
2017 – Navaughn Donaldson, OL
2018 – Malik Edwards, DE
2017 – Khamal Ellison, DB
2017 – Carmoni Green, WR
2017 – Kord Jenkins, RB
2017 – Allen Jones, DB
2017 – Cornell Jones, LB
2017 – Enos Lewis, S
2018 – Seth McGill, QB
2018 – Chris Metayer, S
2017 – Mershawn Miller, OL
2017 – Kh'lajuwon Murat, DB
2018 – Tijuane Morten, QB
2018 – Terrell Perriman, WR
2017 – Jernard Phillips, WR
2018 – Andre Reese, DB
2017 – Kywan Smith, RB
2018 – Taurrian Stafford, OL
2017 – Anthony White, Jr., WR
2017 – Christopher Williams, DB

Moments after the Flanagan Falcons won the 2015 Class 8A football championship last December in Orlando, all eyes were on the 2016 season.

With several key prospects moving on to the next level – along with head coach Devin Bush, there was no way that a program that had just seven winning seasons since the school opened its doors in the 1990s, could be back in contention.

Enter Stanford Samuels. The one-time Miami Carol City and FSU standout, who was responsible for the success of the Falcons' state-rated defense the past two seasons, stepped into the head spot, and despite learning new things, he has this program back as a favorite to head to Orlando once again.

With a key district win over Western, the Falcons, who beat Kissimmee Osceola for their first ever state title on the gridiron last December, believe that they can repeat.

Even with programs such as Deerfield Beach, Miami Christopher Columbus, Coral Gables, Miami Palmetto and Miami Southridge in the mix – none of those teams will be able to move the ball against this program.

"We know that we have to play one game at a time," said Samuels. "People thought we lost everyone from last year, but that is where they would be wrong. These young men have worked harder than anyone to put themselves in a position to compete for another state title."

2017 – Denzel Alvis, RB
2018 – Dwayne Boyles, DE
2017 – Lamont Brantley, S
2018 – Arthur Brathwaite, S
2017 – Marcus Etienne, OL
2017 – Hunter Goetz, S
2017 – Sedrick Harvey, DE
2017 – Faion Hicks, DB
2018 – Troy Ingle, OL
2017 – Anthony Johnson, RB
2017 – Chad Joseph, WR
2018 – Desjuan Kearse, QB
2017 – Jamar Lambert, OL
2018 – Daniel McVay, NG
2017 – Stanford Samuels, DB
2017 – Shimoor Stern, WR
2017 – Caleb Thomas, WR
2017 – Clevan Thomas, WR
2018 – Michael Williams, OLB

2018 – Jordan Chambers, OLB
2018 – Keshaun Clarke, RB
2018 – Steffen Fernand, Athlete
2017 – Matt Hanson, DE
2018 – Frank Herran, DB
2018 – Jacob Kaplan, OL
2017 – Josh Lazarus, OLB
2017 – Cody Lovingshimer, DT
2017 – Fabian McNichols, CB
2017 – Dylan Merino, Slot
2017 – Henry Morar, DT
2017 – Chris Nunez, OL
2017 – Kevin Oliver, DE
2017 – Kyle Osborn, LB
2017 – Stefan Postman, S
2017 – Evan Rojas, OL
2018 – Robbie Ruebel, DB
2018 – Dannie Sanders, WR
2018 – Christian Santos, DT
2017 – Hunter Stephens, S

In losses to Dillard and Boyd Anderson earlier in the season, Douglas head coach Willis May felt that his Eagles had their chances to beat the two Class 6A Broward County powers.

With one of the most talented Douglas teams in recent memory, last Thursday's meeting at Cooper City was huge for this program that needs a solid performance before they started the competitive district schedule.

Using over 40 players, May and the Eagles finally put it all together – beating the Cowboys 44-3 and getting ready for Coral Springs this week – which kicks off a district run that also includes defending champion Deerfield Beach and last year's surprise, Piper.

"We have come up short so many times in the past two years and I told this team that we needed to get over that hump," May explained. "We have so many talented young men out here, but they need to prove to themselves that they can win those close games – which is something that playoff teams do."

For head coach Brandon Walker and his Cowboys, it's on to their district schedule as several players were sidelined on Thursday night with injuries that certainly did not help in the outcome.

2018 – Manuel Almanzer, TE/DE
2017 – Luis Alvarez, FB/DL
2017 – Craig Barr, WR/DB
2018 – Jack Black, OL/DL
2017 – Brian Berfils, OL
2017 – Tyler Brown, RB/LB
2017 – Justin Croye, WR/DB
2017 – Christian Cuenca, WR/DB
2018 – Michael DiLiello, QB
2017 – Frankie Machado, WR/DB
2017 – Brandon Maurer, RB/DB
2018 – Michael McColgin, TE/DE
2017 – Daniel Paul, RB/LB
2017 – Kenny Rasberry, TE/DE
2017 – Errict Rhett, Jr., RB/DB
2018 – Landon Segerra, TE/LB
2018 – Kobie Simmons, WR/DB
2018 – Troy Vives, OL/DL
2018 – Tyler Willis, QB
2017 – Darrell Wise, RB/DB
2017 – Slade Yester, OL/DL

2018 – Riley Allison, RB
2017 – Trent Baldeo, FS
2017 – Daquan Bailey-Brown, WR/DB
2019 – Clarence Burley, RB
2017 – Matt Cabey, WR/DB
2017 – Alex Cadelus, DL
2017 – Daniel Crestitelli, LB/RB
2017 – Tyeshan Cruz, RB
2018 – Nick DeFroscia, RB/LB
2017 – Courtney Douglas, OL/DL
2017 – Michael Dudley, OL/DL
2018 – Jack Fris, OL/DL
2017 – Corey Gaynor, OL/DL
2018 – Tyler Goodman, QB
2017 – Brandon Huff, FB/LB
2017 – Deon Lawrence, DE/TE
2017 – Ezekiel LeClerc, TE/DE
2018 – Tai Lehito, WR/S
2017 – Nick Longley, WR
2017 – Melvens Mitil, RB
2017 – Jamal Polycarp, WR/DB
2018 – Robby Rodriguez, LB
2019 – Patrick Scullen, OL/DL
2017 – Nick Webber, OL
2018 – Yohance Williams, LB

After a few years away from the state playoff spotlight, head coach Dennis Marroquin and his Champagnat Catholic football program is back among the elite in Class 2A.

Finishing off Pembroke Pines Somerset Academy in a non-district game, the Lions are now set for a run that will get them back to Orlando and a chance to play for a state title.

"We have lost a number of players since the spring, but as you can see, there are plenty of great, young prospects on this team," Marroquin pointed out. "As some of our ninth and tenth graders continue to mature, we have a chance to be very special."

With only two district games, the Lions figure to make a splash when the playoffs begin in November – and as you look around the state – this is a program that has a chance really make a splash.

2018 – Kevin Acosta, DL
2020 – Mark Britt, WR
2017 – Lavon Brown, RB
2017 – Jordan Coley, S
2019 – Kervin Dessources, QB
2019 – Donald Georges, LB
2018 – Donovan Georges, LB
2017 – Brian Goose, DB
2018 – Jarule Harris, DB
2020 – Jovans Javier, OL
2018 – Daryn Jones, RB
2020 – Johnquai Lewis, WR
2017 – Ivan Martinez, OL
2018 – Maxesin Michel, DE
2017 – Dvante Mitchell, S
2017 – Voshon Ochoa, DE
2018 – Tyrik Robinson, LB
2018 – Gregory Rosseau, WR
2017 – Isaiah Sharpe, Athlete
2018 – Jawaun Wilson, OL
2018 – Jahani Wright, WR

2017 – Kyle Acosta, DE
2020 – Nathaniel Adamski, OL/DL
2019 – Vashon Bailey, OL/DL
2018 – Ricardo Barrow, OL/DL
2018 – Jonathan Borges, WR/DB
2018 – Ahmed Fitchett, WR/RB
2018 – Joseph Lancia, WR/DB
2018 – Tre Lawrence, WR/DB
2018 – Armando McGee, DB/PK
2018 – Zamar Miller, FB/LB
2017 – Juan Molinares, DL/TE
2020 – Isiah Pierre, RB/DB
2020 – Kareem Ritch, WR/DB
2019 – Rholdy Saintimebeauvais, RB/LB
2019 – Evan Turner, DL
2017 – Colin Shevlin-Virgilio, WR/DB

Last Saturday morning's 49-0 win over Miami Braddock may not have meant much to most teams around south Florida, but to the Edison Red Raiders who have been working to bring back some of the playoff glory of the past, it was yet another step in reaching goals that this team set nearly two years ago.

While some prospects who set out on this journey are no longer with the program, head coach Napoleon Joseph and several athletes who stayed around, never lost sight of where this team wants to be this season.

"We need to cut back on the mistakes that may not have cost us early this season, but could down the stretch," Joseph said. "When you come out and have a 500-yard passing performance (465 by senior Malcolm Vigille), it shows where you are."

The Red Raiders will play Hialeah-Miami Lakes in a district game this coming week – and then Booker T. Washington and Monsignor Pace.

2017 – Ulices Acevedo, RB
2017 – Manny Arias, S
2019 – Paul Avila, OL
2018 – Jose Cabas, DB
2019 – Justin Caldera, DE
2017 – Charlie Chang, DL
2018 – Andre Dew, DB
2017 – Claudio Fernandez, DL
2020 – Mikkael Laraque, RB
2017 – Justin Lastra, WR
2018 – Chris Lopez, LB
2019 – Daniel Lopez, DL
2018 – Santana Moss, Jr., RB
2018 – Joshua Naploes, OL
2020 – Antonio Perez, DL
2018 – Jason Reese, LB
2017 – Anthony Rodriguez, LB
2017 – Ricardo Rosas, OL
2018 – Steven Stallings, RB
2017 – Wilfredo Velazquez, DL
2017 – Sam Williams, LB

2017 – Rashad Adams, RB
2018 – Jesus Delacruz, DL
2018 – Jonathan Espinosa, WR
2018 – Lamont Finnie, WR
2017 – Kareem Gaiter, DB
2018 – Jaquan Ham, RB
2017 – Marcus Hill, RB
2020 – Korleon Gree-Johnson, LB
2018 – Nadab Joseph, S
2017 – Jamauri Laguerre, DB
2017 – Kevontae Lee, S
2017 – Jacob Mackey, LB
2019 – Ricky Mackey, WR
2018 – Kayode Oladele, DT
2017 – Alex Ortiz, WR
2017 – Tavares Sturrup, DB
2017 – E.J. Thomas, RB
2017 - Romane Ultima, LB
2017 – Sumondre Valier, OL
2017 – Malcolm Vigille, QB
2018 – Nate Webster, Jr., LB
2018 – Waldrick Williams, OL
2020 – Gary Wilson, DB


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