Ask any current NFL, collegiate or high school player who comes from South Florida why this region is head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to producing top-flight football talent and all will tell you the same thing.
Trace the history of any athlete from Miami-Dade and Broward counties and it all goes back to youth football. From Lauderdale Lakes to Florida City and just about everywhere in between, the bond between the youth programs and the high schools has never been stronger.
Visit a youth football game any Saturday during the fall and you will see the next Jamal Carter, Joey Bosa, Thomas Matthews or Sony Michel. The pipeline from places such as Gwen Cherry, Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes, Scott Lake, Doral, Overtown, Liberty City and Pembroke Pines Optimist is the lifeline for many of these programs.
If you want to see what a high school program is going to be like over the next few years, all you have to do is check out what’s happening down the street. Look at your successful public school programs and you can trace the talent down the block to the local youth team.
It’s certainly no mistake that schools such as Carol City, Northwestern and Norland have benefitted for years from what’s happening right down the block. Now, as Booker T. Washington is on the verge of becoming one of the top teams in the nation, all you had to do is check out what’s happening at nearby Overtown, where the Rattlers have put together some nationally-rated teams, stock the Tornadoes with big time players.
Schools such as Southridge, South Dade, Killian, Central and Jackson have always done well with the youth players that come in and make a difference.
In Broward, it has always been about Boyd Anderson, Deerfield Beach, Plantation, Dillard, Blanche Ely, Miramar and now Cypress Bay who have relied on what the youth programs have been able to provide to them.
As summer events are now taking place, and many of the Class of 2016 (incoming freshmen) are filling out 7-on-7 rosters, we are all getting the first look at some of these elite, young players who will make contributions at the varsity level.
While there are going to be some top 2016 players that will continue to pop up over the next few years, here is a look at some who have already started to turn heads:
Offensively, there are Kato Nelson, QB, 5-7, 145, McArthur, Teddrick Moffett, Jr., QB, 5-9, 155, Blanche Ely, Harvey Clayton, Jr., RB, 5-10, 155, Southridge, Amir Rasul, RB, 5-11, 175, Christopher Columbus, Mark Walton, RB, 5-10, 180, Booker T. Washington, Sam Bruce, WR, 5-7, 160, Davie University, Isaiah McIntyre, WR, 5-11, 155, Monarch, Dionte Mullins, WR, 5-10, 160, Gulliver Prep, Calvin Ridley, WR, 5-10, 155, Chaminade-Madonna, Dredric Snelson, WR, 5-11, 165, Booker T. Washington, Steve Newbold, WR, 5-11, 160, McArthur and Tony Taylor, WR, 5-9, 160, Monsingor Pace.
Defensively, there are linebackers Alex Anderson, 5-10, 180, Miramar, Demetrius Bellamy, 5-7 150, Dillard, Kory Johnson, 5-9, 175, McArthur, Malik Jackson, 5-9, 175, Champagnat, Malik Jones, 5-10, 165, Plantation, Cedric Wright, 5-9, 175, Homestead and Shaddrick Lowery, Jr., 5-9, 160, Hollywood Hills.
There are also secondary standouts such as Jamel Cook, 6-2, 170, Mater Academy, Ivan Smith, 5-11, 150, Christopher Columbus, Alton Jordan, 5-9, 145, American Heritage, Tobias Moss, 5-9, 150, Westminster Christian and Matthew Ray, 5-7, 145, Dillard.