As many recognize south Florida high school football for its never-ending contribution to the NFL, the one position that never received a proper spotlight is running back.
Isn't this the area that provided thrilling offenses with the likes of Nat Moore and Rufus Ferguson in the 60s, Elvis Peacock and Elliott Walker in the 70s, and so many elite prospects to follow?
It is, but for some reason, while the Frank Gore's, Lorenzo White's, Errict Rhett's, Willis McGahee's, Duke Johnson's, Bobby Washington's, Buster Rhymes' and so many others have carved out an elite reputation – it's receivers that get much of the offensive spotlight.
Talk to any coach and all will tell you that the running backs – like Alex Collins, Dalvin Cook and Joseph Yearby – have always existed. And as we head toward another season, the spotlight not only needs to be on those who are getting plenty of looks, but also the tremendous depth that we have in this area.
You take a look at the top Class of 2017 prospects – and it's hard to argue that you will find a more promising group anywhere.
Here are 13 players – in alphabetical order – that we have watched the past few years live and will head into spring as running backs to keep an on eye on:
Kyshaun Bryan, 5-10, 190, St. Thomas Aquinas: Bryan is as good as you get in this class. He needs to stay healthy and show what he did two years ago at American Heritage, was just par for the course. This is one of those talents who will certainly separate himself as time goes on.
Robert Burns, 5-11, 210, Gulliver Prep: Here's a big-time football player who was on the radar as he entered the ninth grade season. Whether he played on offense or lined up on defense, Burns was indeed one of those tremendous prospects who will make an impact.
Daniel Doriscar, RB, 5-8, 178, Hialeah Gardens Mater Academy: Here is a talented young man who has played at such a high level since he started. Doriscar is a big-time back who can block, run from the line of scrimmage as well as catch the ball. He is truly a big cog in Mater's offense.
Mike Epstein, 6-0, 200, St. Thomas Aquinas: One of three top-15 players that missed all of last season after coming over from Cypress Bay. Epstein is a big back that has speed and possesses the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Although he committed early on to Illinois, several other schools will continue to jump into the spotlight. Epstein was a standout at the youth level as well.
Massi Gamble, 6-0, 195, Calvary Christian: One of the most unknown of the ball carriers in south Florida, but the son of former Dolphin Trent Gamble is a big, strong and very elusive back who also can play on both sides of the ball. Gamble is one of those standouts that just need attention – then he will take off. He's a solid, solid football player.
Christopher "C.J." Henderson, 6-0, 170, Miami Christopher Columbus: While the University of Miami will be getting this talented young man to play in the secondary, there may be a chance – because of his blazing speed and ability to run the ball – he would be able to play that position at the next level.
Kai Henry, 5-9, 185, Miami Northwestern: Youth football phenom that made an impact at Edison two years ago before making the move to play for the Bulls last year, alternating carries with other backs. While many believe that he has not come close to what he is capable of doing, Henry has to be the year that he is given the chance to show his quickness, strength and ability to make a major impact.
Xandre McCleary, 6-0, 216, South Broward: McCleary comes to South Florida after playing at Oviedo High the past two years. This is another of the backs that many do not know about. But as he plays, you will see colleges start to flock around this big and talented runner.
Nakia Robinson, 5-11, 180, Miami Jackson: Ever since he played youth football, here is a runner that huge things were predicted. This is the year that this gifted runner will get his chance to turn heads and attract a college scholarship. Robinson is a very strong runner who mixes power and quickness. He could develop into that premier guy this coming year.
Eldridge "E.J." Thomas, 5-8, 185, Edison: Thomas broke out in a major way this past season with the Red Raiders. From the start of the season, he showed that he could be a very valuable member of the offense with his running and ability to create mismatches with safeties and linebackers trying to cover him out of the slot. He is a very talented football player who will help some program for years to come.
Jamar Thompkins, RB, 5-10, 175, South Miami: One of the hardest working runners in South Florida who has had two very productive learning years for the Cobras. Because many never get a chance to watch him play, many are not giving him the exposure needed. This spring and offseason will be huge as more colleges will get a good look at this talented young man.
Bentavious Thompson, 6-0, 190, Southridge: This University of Miami commit heads south to play for the Spartans after re-classifying from his original Class of 2018 group. Thompson is another quality back who is powerful and quick. He is very hard to stop in close or on short yardage runs. He is a tough young man.
Javier Zuniga, 5-9, 175, Champagnat Catholic: Miami-Dade's rushing champion is back – at a different school – and is looking to pick-up where he left off. Zuniga is indeed a very impressive football player that has speed. And as he puts on weight and gets stronger – watch out.
THE DEPTH IS IMPRESSIVE
While there are still running backs in this class that will emerge, perhaps as soon as this spring, our objective as it always is – to get everyone promoted and looked at.
There are, however, some running backs – or athletes that need to be recognized as well. Here is a look at some – such as Deerfield Beach athletes Lafleur Limprevil (5-9, 165) and Alton Allen (5-8, 170), O'Jhonte Armstrong (5-9, 162, Ransom Everglades), Jordan Atkins (5-11, 180, North Miami Beach), fullback Bobby Baldwin (5-9, 215, Carol City), Lytii Borders (5-8, 165, Norland), Tyler Boyd (5-10, 170, Dillard), Anthony Boykin (5-8, 175) and Jevaughn Brown (5-8, 180) from Taravella.
Also, athletic Tavares Brownlee, (6-1, 175, Miami LaSalle), versatile Jahbrille Campbell (5-10, 185, Keys Gate) and Michael Carrion, 6-2, 225, Coral Springs Charter) – as well as Archbishop McCarthy fullback Daniel Cerda (5-10, 185), Tyreek Akin-Cole (5-8, 145, Miramar Everglades), Najha Edwards (5-7, 140), Tyrik Foster (5-9, 160, Hallandale), Stefon Francis (5-6, 160, Monsignor Pace), Pedro Garcia (5-8, 170 and Javier Hernandez (5-9, 175) Miami Belen Jesuit, George Golden IV (5-8, 160, Dillard), Yael Gomez (5-9, 180, Christopher Columbus), Julian Harris (5-6, 170, Varela), Patrick Harvard, RB, 5-9, 170, Davie Nova) and Jokwan Holmes (5-9, 190, American).
This deep class also boast prospects such as versatile Kord Jenkins (5-10, 175, Miramar), Cameron Milfort (5-8, 165, Hollywood McArthur), Craig Nelson (5-11, 175, Booker T. Washington), Andre Reynolds (5-9, 185, Dr. Krop), Marcos Ruiz (5-9, 185, Coral Park), fullback Jacquez Stephens (5-6, 195) and American transfer Devin Saunders (5-9, 190) Miami Norland, Joshua Scott (5-11, 165, Killian), Amari Smith (5-9, 168, Fort Lauderdale), Kywon Smith (5-10, 190, Central) and Westminster Christian standout Michael Whyte (5-7, 170).
COOK AND WRIGHT MAKING A PUSH
There is nobody who will argue with the fact 2019 prospects James Cook (Central) and Nayquan Wright (Carol City) are not among the best in the nation. Both made dramatic differences with their respective team and we will continue to watch their impressive rise to the top.
In addition to Cook and Wright, who we mentioned, we will be adding some of the other rising 2019 prospects as well – over the next six months.
THE CLASS OF 2018 IS ON DECK
As the offseason started, there were several quality football players who were looking to jump into the spotlight. After their sophomore year, many of these superb runners were being used in many positions.
While there were several prospects who played so many positions, there may be a few who are going to be playing running back – as well as other positions – are not mentioned. Like we said, just drop us a note and we will add.
Here is a look at some of the promising running backs in the class:
Gabriel Almeida, 5-11, 205, Hialeah Gardens
Desmond Branton, 5-7, 145, Miramar Everglades
Darius Brown, 5-9, 160, Mater Academy
Keshaun Clarke, 5-8, 180, Davie Western
Craig Cooper, 5-9, 160, McArthur
John Correa, 5-6, 157, Barbara Goleman
Camron Davis, 5-10, 193, Miami Carol City
Jordan Donaldson, 5-8, 175, Coral Reef
Giavante Evans, 5-9, 175, Deerfield Beach
Terence Evans, 5-8, 175, Miami Norland
Machi Garland, 5-8, 155, Monsignor Pace
Corey Hammett, 5-10, 170, Miami Booker T. Washington
Kalonji Hill, 5-7, 150, Hollywood International School of Broward
Shannardo Houston, 5-8, 200, North Miami
Lennox Howard, 5-7, 155, Miami Palmetto
James Jackson, 5-11, 185, Gulliver Prep
Jordan Johnson, 5-9, 180, Plantation American Heritage
Draquan Jones, 5-8, 160, Miami LaSalle
Sam Llewellyn, 5-10, 190, St. Thomas Aquinas
Bobby Nelson, 5-6, 160, Hialeah
Lawrence Papillon, 5-9, 168, Miami Dr. Krop
Orlando Perez, 5-9, 175, Homestead Everglades Prep
Ashtan Pierre, 6-2, 200, Deerfield Beach
Kenneth Pinkney, Jr., 5-7, 140, Fort Lauderdale
Cameron Ryals, 5-9, 156, Miami LaSalle
Shaun Shivers, 5-7, 170, Chaminade-Madonna
Te'Cory Tutson, 5-8, 160, Southwest Miami
Keyondre White, 5-9, 210, Chaminade-Madonna
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