As Quinton "Winky" Flowers walked up and down the field over the weekend, watching hundreds of high school football players competing in the annual USF Sling & Shoot 7-on-7 event, he saw a lot of himself among those athletes.
It wasn't long ago that this impressive athlete, who is now one of the nation's rising stars at the University of South Florida, was trying to impress football coaches the same way that these schools did during the two-day event that also featured some of the best line prospects in the country.
"I know what a lot these prospects are going through," Flowers said. "This is the time when you are being watched by everyone, and you have to be at events like this to get your name out there."
Flowers was one of the most versatile football players growing up in South Florida, and by the time he got to high school at Miami Jackson, he was one of those impressive talents – much like Duke Johnson – that had dominated at every level.
While there were doubters, he came to USF to compete against some quality quarterbacks – and after showing head coach Willie Taggart what he was made of – Flowers has proven that he is not a receiver, safety or linebacker. What he has shown is that he has a chance to be one of the best offensive leaders the school has had.
Flowers is not the first South Florida prospect to have success at this school. There has been a number in the past; but what has happened in the past few years, there is more of a movement from Miami-Dade and Broward to play for this program that continues to improve and attract top-flight talent.
Hosting events like Bulls' coaching staff did at Ives Park in North Miami-Dade and coming away from the satellite camp by handing out four offers. Those are the types of things that matter when recruiting.
While Flowers continues to do his thing, other South Floridians are also making some rather loud noise in eastern Tampa. Standouts such as Miami Central product Deatrick Nichols, who was recently named to the Thorpe Award watch list.
Nichols, a junior, is an amazing talent who came out of high school way undersold. The same can be said for sophomore Ronnie Hoggins from Monarch, who led the state of Florida in interceptions in his senior year.
Other local prospects who are getting it done at USF include Champagnat Catholic and Western Arizona line product Glen Bethel, sophomore receiver Stanley Clerveaux (North Miami), redshirt freshman defensive lineman Kirk Livngstone (Stranahan), sophomore safety Khalid McGee and running back Darius Tice (Northwestern).
There are also standouts such as junior kicker Emilio Nadelman (Central), senior safety Lamar Robbins (Southridge), freshman running Trevon Sands (Southwest Miami), sophomore offensive lineman Michael Smith (Miami Central); and sophomore Cypress Bay and Tallahassee Godby linebacker Danny Thomas. Even quarterback Brett Kean, who left University School for Cleveland St. Edward's, where he established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the Midwest, is Flowers' backup.
This current freshman class also welcomed in Miami Central receiver Darnell Salomon.
"Having grown up in Bradenton and knowing all about the south Florida area talent, there was never a question which region of the state we would immediately go after," Taggart said. "When we were at Western Kentucky, we had the same approach – and started to win as well."
for more features.