April 13, 2007

South Florida boasts top talent in 2008

South Florida top 10 prospects | Best of the rest | Sleepers | Vote: Your pick for South Florida's best

After a couple of recruiting cycles that didn't possess the sizzle of past years, South Florida is back. It's a resurgent year for talent in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties in the Class of 2008.

Wednesday's release of the Pre-Evaluation Rivals100 featured seven South Florida prospects (all of which are below), and several others were strongly considered for inclusion on the elite list.

By comparison, the final Class of 2007 Rivals100 featured four prospects from the area (Doug Wiggins, Major Wright, Deonte Thompson and Armando Allen). The final Class of 2006 Rivals100 featured three players from the area: (Charles Deas, Tervaris Johnson and Sam Young).

It's a good thing that the region is set produce more talent, because more programs are putting a heavier emphasis on the region this year. In addition to Miami (Fla.), Florida and Florida State recruiting South Florida heavily, other regional programs like Alabama and LSU have been particularly active.

The Crimson Tide, led by assistant coach Lance Thompson, have used new coach Nick Saban's name recognition (he was coach of the Miami Dolphins before heading to 'Bama) and Thompson's ties to the state (he came to Tuscaloosa from UCF) to open doors with several prospects in the area.

Given that it appears to be a down year in the state of Louisiana, the Tigers are faced with the task of heading out-of-state to sign talent. Recruiters Earl Lane (who pulled offensive lineman Ernest McCoy out of Glades Central last year) and D.J. McCarthy (who, like Thompson, used to coach at UCF and has ties to the area) have been active early.

North Carolina, attempting to capitalize on the name recognition of Butch Davis, a former Miami head coach, has been active in the early going. Ace recruiter John Blake has the area for the Tar Heels.

Georgia Tech also has been active in South Florida during the early going of the 2008 cycle.

The usual suspects are hitting the area as well.

Auburn has made a living in Broward County over the years and continues to mine that area - along with Dade and Broward - for prospects. Eddie Gran is one of the top recruiters in the Southeastern Conference and does an excellent job in the region.

Rivals.com Top 25 recruiter Trooper Taylor typically has recruited South Florida for Tennessee in the past. South Carolina has running backs coach Robert Gillespie, a former Florida Gator, recruiting the region. Ole Miss, Georgia, Clemson, West Virginia and others have also made their presence felt early.

The major in-state programs also devote their share of resources to the area. New Miami linebackers coach Michael Barrow has made a difference in the early going with a number of prospects. Florida has three-time Rivals.com Top 25 recruiter John Holliday recruiting the area, while Florida State now has former North Carolina State coach Chuck Amato and new wide receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey recruiting the area. Both are highly respected recruiters.

And don't forget Central Florida. The Golden Knights have been aggressive in the region and are emerging as a realistic option for many South Florida prospects. Last year, UCF signed 10 prospects from the region, including athlete Kamar Aiken from Chaminade-Madonna. They also inked three prospects, including standout wide receiver/defensive back Alphonso Bryant, from Homestead High.

Florida International, Florida Atlantic and South Florida also do a fair share of recruiting in the region.

Below is an early look at the top 10 prospects in South Florida for this year's class and a breakdown of several other Division I-A prospects in the area.

South Florida top 10

Marcus Forston

6-3, 300, DT, Miami Northwestern

Forston is a powerful and quick defensive tackle prospect that plays for the most dominant high school football team in South Florida. He could play nose tackle, "two" technique or "three" technique along the interior of a defensive line at the next level.

Recruiting update: Forston holds scholarship offers from Miami (Fla.), Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Rutgers, among others. Most believe he will ultimately commit to Miami, his favorite.

Jordan Futch

6-3, 202, LB, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna

Futch is a tall, rangy linebacker prospect with excellent speed (he ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash at the Miami NIKE Combine in February) and quickness. He also is a very intelligent prospect and has advanced knowledge of the game.

Recruiting update: Futch has multiple scholarship offers and recently picked up the one he was waiting on when Miami offered. The Hurricanes are the leaders here and are in the driver's seat for now. However, watch Florida - which recently offered.

Karnell Hatcher

6-2, 190, S, Delray Beach Atlantic Community

Hatcher in action

Hatcher isn't going to win many footraces with lightning-fast wide receivers, but he obliterates ball carriers in run support and plays the game with little regard for his safety. That makes him a highly-desired prospect.

Recruiting update: Call Miami the favorite to land Hatcher, but LSU, Alabama and other programs are strongly in the mix. Florida hasn't offered yet, but the Gators could shoot up Hatcher's list if they do.

Janoris Jenkins

6-0, 180, CB, Pahokee

Jenkins in action

Jenkins is one of the best all-around high school football players in the state of Florida. He's impressive on offense, impressive on defense and impressive on special teams. He has good hips and will likely find a home at corner in college.

Recruiting update: Jenkins named Clemson his leader early in the process. While the Tigers are still in the thick of things, look for Miami (Fla.) and Florida to become major players before all is said and done.

Aldarius Johnson

6-2, 194, WR, Miami Northwestern

Johnson in action

Johnson has good speed (4.47 in the 40) and tremendous strength for a wide receiver. He was nearly unstoppable last year. He caught more than 70 passes for 1,361 yards in helping Northwestern finish 16-0 en route to the Florida 6A title.

Recruiting update: Johnson has offers from Miami, Florida, Florida State and North Carolina. Expect him to stay in-state. Some rumors have swirled that the Hurricanes aren't pursuing him as hard as one would think because he could have academic issues.

Patrick Johnson

6-1, 195, CB, Pompano Beach Ely

Johnson in action

Johnson is one of the nation's elite cornerback prospects. He has good size, ball skills and outstanding recovery speed. During the Miami NIKE Camp, Johnson had multiple interceptions against some of the top receivers in South Florida.

Recruiting update: Johnson committed to Miami on April 5 after considering offers from Florida State (where his cousin Bryant McFadden was a standout corner), Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio State and others.

Marcus Robinson

6-2, 215, LB, Homestead

Robinson in action

Robinson is a tremendous athlete (4.47 in the 40, 4.29 in the shuttle and a 37-plus inch vertical leap) and also a tremendous football player. At Homestead, he plays with his hand down most of the time but will have little issue playing up in college.

Recruiting update: LSU and other out-of-state programs are highly interested in Robinson, but the Miami Hurricanes are in the driver's seat. Homestead's own Michael Barrow, the Hurricanes' new linebackers coach, is leading the charge.

Etienne Sabino

6-3, 230, LB, Miami Krop

Sabino in action

Sabino has the size and athleticism to play either middle linebacker or defensive end at the college level. He's a very intelligent player, so he's likely a better fit at linebacker (it's also his high school position) where he can quarterback the defense.

Recruiting update: Sabino's recruitment intensified during the week of the Miami NIKE Camp when Notre Dame, USC, Miami, Tennessee, Florida and other heavy-hitters offered him scholarships. He's open to all suitors at this time.

Greg Shaw

6-6, 280, OT, Monsignor Pace

Shaw in action

Shaw, the brother of Louisville linebacker and former Carol City recruit Willie Williams, is a physically impressive offensive tackle who can dominate opponents. His long arms and frame give him NFL potential.

Recruiting update: Shaw is wide-open at the moment. Louisville is in the mix, but doesn't lead. Georgia Tech, LSU, Florida State, Florida, Miami and other schools are being considered. He mentions the Yellow Jackets often, though, and will make an unofficial visit there later this month.

Brandon Washington

6-4, 310, OG, Miami Northwestern

Washington in action

Washington, who recently transferred from Booker T. Washington to Northwestern, has the potential to become a dominating interior offensive line prospect in college. Washington was one of the top offensive linemen at the Miami NIKE camp.

Recruiting update: Washington committed to Miami on March 28 over Notre Dame, Rutgers, Auburn, Oklahoma, Florida State and Florida. He has stated several times since then that he is firm in his commitment.

Best of the rest

Broward: Chris Anderson, RB, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna; Dorian Graham, DB, Fort Lauderdale Saint Thomas Aquinas; Patrick Joseph, LB, South Broward; Jeremy Longo, DE, Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons

Dade: George Baker, DB, Miami Archbishop Carroll; Thearon Collier, DB, Miami Booker T. Washington; Brandon Harris, DB, Miami Booker T. Washington; Davon Johnson, WR, Miami Booker T. Washington; Benjamin Jones, DE, Miami Northwestern; Corey Liuget, DE/TE, Hialeah; Brian Moore, OL, Coral Gables Ransom Everglades; Sean Spence, LB, Miami Northwestern, Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami Northwestern

Palm Beach: Star Jackson, QB, Lake Worth; Jeremy Lewis[/d]b, DT, Palm Beach Lakes; [db]Joe Looney, OG, Lake Worth; Martavious Odoms, WR, Pahokee; Micanor Regis, DT, Pahokee

Five sleepers

Tyrone Brantley, WR, Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson: The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Brantley has excellent size and speed. He could also project as a safety in college.

Jeremiah Harden, RB/WR, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas: Harden is a dynamic playmaker who could fit in a number of positions in college. He's also a winner, coming from STA.

Jon Lejiste, CB, Delray Beach Atlantic Community: The 6-foot-1, 191-pound Lejiste has excellent speed (4.44 in the 40) and several college recruiters are high on him.

Malcolm Munroe, LB, Miami Coral Reef: Munroe was outstanding during the Miami NIKE Camp. He has good size (6-4, 205) and footwork.

Derrick Warthen, APB, Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson: The speedy Warthen was outstanding at the Miami NIKE. He could play slot receiver or running back in college.

South Florida top 10 prospects | Best of the rest | Sleepers | Vote: Your pick for South Florida's best


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