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Orange Bowl Set For Second High School Showcase

If you have followed high school football for any length of time in South Florida, you already know that landing a college scholarship is sometimes impossible.

No matter who the blame may fall toward, the end result is getting these football prospects additional college exposure – and that is where the Orange Bowl stepped up last year – with a post National Signing Day combine.

The combine, which was free and open to qualified football players, was truly a unique event – where college coaches from all over – flocked to Nova Southeastern University in Davie.

"Great idea for those young men who worked so hard and got it done in the classroom," said West Broward head coach Monte Dilworth. "Getting it done in the classroom is so very important."

The results in the first year were so positive, organizers couldn't wait to plan the second year.

This FREE one-day event, conducted in association with the National Football Foundation (NFF), and its local chapters, offers academically qualified high school seniors from Florida an unprecedented opportunity to use their athletic and academic skills to earn collegiate scholarships, and ultimately, a college degree. Football coaches from NCAA Division II, III and NAIA programs from across the country will have the opportunity to evaluate these young student-athletes.

The showcase will take place on Feb. 17 at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. All NCAA Division II, III, and NAIA athletic directors and head football coaches have been invited to attend the Orange Bowl Florida High School Football Showcase presented by Cleveland Clinic.

At the inaugural showcase last year, in excess of $1 million in scholarships was earned by more than 60 student-athletes.

Student-athletes eligible for participation must be graduating high school seniors who have not accepted a scholarship offer from a NCAA Division I (Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision) program. In addition, they must meet the following academic qualifications:

Student-athletes eligible for participation must be graduating high school seniors who have not accepted a scholarship offer from a NCAA Division I (Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision) program. In addition, they must meet the following academic qualifications:

. Earn a 2.5 GPA or higher in 16 Core Courses AND;

. Earn an SAT score of 920 (math and verbal only) or higher; OR

. Have a composite ACT Score of 18 or higher or a sum score of 68 or higher.


With National Signing Day in the rearview mirroe, the Orange Bowl got involved and hosted a full combine experience, with several local coaches and Miami Dolphins of the past, to watch and evaluate athletes who have already achieved in the classroom.

With Camp Director David Shula running the show last year, the former NFL standout and head football coach was the perfect person to lead this inaugural event.

"This is a lot of fun to be out here with these outstanding athletes and coaches who have made their way down to South Florida," Shula said. "The Orange Bowl really rolled out some great people to be a part of this."

What the Orange Bowl did for this annual small college recruiting fair was take it to the next level. While the college coaches had booths set up along the field, they had the time to watch the athletes and then bring them in to talk and promote their respective schools.

Not only did they have the chance to see the athletes, but also they were also treated to former Miami Dolphins step up and make a huge statement.

With Dolphin stars of the past such as John Offerdahl, it was certainly something that was indeed well planned out – as players who benefitted from the showcase continue to talk about the positive experience.

"To have watched these legends of football - such as David Shula running things, and Terry Kirby, Dwight Stephenson, Jeff Dellenbach, Troy Stratford and Chris Chambers out there teaching and being positive role models was really amazing," Miami Palmetto head coach Mike Manasco recalled. "Great event. Helpful to all."

Also working the event last year was the always entertaining Channing Crowder. The former Dolphin linebacker and current talk show host at WQAM (560 AM) was indeed worth watching the event.

Crowder, working with the linebackers, was vintage – and when the day was over – he was certainly the talk of the combine.

"I remember when I was this age and full of hope," Crowder recalled. "You did everything and anything to get noticed. These guys are already one step ahead because they have grades."


Any time that you host an event in February, especially in South Florida, smaller schools for all over find a way to head south. Last year they came from all over.

Programs such as Hanover (Indiana), Webber International University (Florida), Heidelberg (Ohio), Western New England (Mass.), Waldorf (Iowa), North Park (Illinois), Mount St. Joseph (Ohio), Lawrence Tech (Michigan), Lyon (Arkansas), MacMurray (Illinois), Monmouth (Illinois), Christopher Newport (Virginia), Kansas Weslyan, Lawrence University (Wisconsin) and Ithaca (New York) to name a few.

Schools had their tents set up right next to the combine and had that unique chance to interact with the athletes right there on the field – and then schools such as Earlham (Indiana), Southwest University (Texas), Methodist University (North Carolina), Ohio Northern, Graceland (Iowa), Saint Vincent (Pennsylvania), Franklin College (Indiana) and a number of others had the opportunity to talk with plenty of prospects and showcase their school and what they have to offer.

Last year, Doug Socha just took over the head coaching job at Keiser University. The former Delray American Heritage and Oxbridge head coach – as well as working for the Buffalo Bills for some time – benefitted in a major way by watching some of those seniors in person.

The NAIA school, located in West Palm Beach, will begin play this year, and building a program includes attending events like this showcase.

"This event was perfect for what we are doing," Socha explained. "In fact, we saw plenty of very talented young men."


What was great about the first year is that players had the opportunity to showcase all of their skills – with many watching and filming.

Athletes came from Miami, Doral, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Orlando, Delray Beach, Sunrise, Deerfield Beach, Parkland, Miami Beach, Davie, Boca Raton, Hialeah Gardens, Plantation, Lantana, Hialeah, Homestead, Pembroke Pines, Pompano Beach and several other communities.

Catch the South Florida High School Sports Radio Show each week on WQAM (560AM). For the past 10 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot!

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