The Miami Herald

Area attracts most attention

The best part of spring football — besides the scrimmages and the games that take place during the course of a month — are all the colleges and universities you get to see.

While Florida attracts some of the top programs nationally, South Florida — especially Miami-Dade and Broward counties — are a completely different story. Look in the NFL and check how many players are from this area and you will understand why recruiting budgets are often made by visits down south.

It isn’t unusual to see lead recruiters from schools such as Auburn, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Georgia and all the Sunshine State powers evaluating from the sideline. They can stock teams with talent, as all the major conferences have done for years.

With cameras in hand, the college coaches take photos, make mental notes and try to lay the groundwork for the future, while taking care of what’s coming up in the Class of 2013.

From Boston College to Maryland, Utah State, North Carolina, Clemson, Ole Miss, West Virginia and even Oregon, the coaches have used the month of May to check out elite players for the upcoming class as well as look toward the future — with 2014 and 2015 players making a lasting impression.

As we all know by now, there are several football hotbeds across the country that attract major schools. But when it comes to the month of May, there is no other place in the country that commands the respect that this talent-filled region does.

“You take a look at any practice or spring game in South Florida this time of year and you will see 10-20 coaches walking the sideline,” said Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services. “The coaches are always asking questions that could help land a certain athlete.”

The opportunity to see Class of 2013 elite national prospects such as Joey Bosa (Ohio State) of St. Thomas Aquinas, Booker T. Washington’s Matthew Thomas and Denver Kirlkland, Northeast receiver Stacy Coley, Jamal Carter of Southridge as well as Artie Burns from Northwestern is the reason why spending over a week in this area is suggested.

In other areas of the country where spring football is not the showcase it is in Florida — with over the 20 days of practices, scrimmages and games — the athletes do not get the total exposure. Watching a player perform in shorts and a T-shirt is nice, but when as much as $300,000 in scholarship money is on the line, watching players from five feet away is the only way to truly evaluate.

That’s where elite rising seniors such as Miami commitment Alex Collins (South Plantation), Alvonte Bell (Everglades), Sandley Jean Felix (Boyd Anderson), Jeremy Benjamin (McArthur), Michael Deeb (American Heritage), Jermaine Grace (Miramar), Charles Williams (Champagnat Catholic), Anthony Walker (Monsignor Pace), Sojourn Shelton (FSU) of Plantation and Stacy Thomas (Gulliver Prep) to name a few, can be watched and completely evaluated.

“As good as the rising seniors are in this region, it’s the 2014 class that is bringing so many coaches down here for an extended period,” said Corey Long of ESPN. “Everyone knows by now that the junior class in this area is perhaps as good as any nationally, especial at the running back and receiver positions.”

There are at least three high national recruits at the running back spot with the nation’s best, American Heritage standout Sony Michel, leading a group that also includes early FSU commit Joe Yearby and his teammate Dalvin Cook from Central. Add in Southridge standout Jaqmal Adjamah and Madre London (St. Thomas) and you have some major prospects — with others on the way.

While running back is attracting a crowd for the Class of 2014, there may not be an area in the country that has marquee the receivers South Florida is ready to unleash. Prospects such as South Dade’s Tyre Brady, Coral Reef’s Jacob McCrary, Homestead Ermon Lane, St. Thomas Aquinas standout Corey Holmes, Trevon Lee (Cardinal Gibbons) and Lamar Parker (Booker T. Washington) have already been offered as they approach their junior season.

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