With a state title and a runner-up over the past two years, few programs in Florida have enjoyed the success that Central has.
When it comes to recruiting and producing college talent, there are very few nationally that can come close to what coach Telly Lockette’s Rockets churn out each year.
While Florida continues to be a hotbed for recruiting — sending nearly 400 players on to FBS programs annually — the Rockets are often in the middle of that talent explosion, boasting as many as 12-15 top-flight football players each year.
What Central has become is a pipeline to major schools. It isn’t usual to see 75 colleges walking through the doors each spring and winter — trying to get a jump on the competition.
With nearly five months to go before National Signing Day, this program has already has players committed to top programs: Marqez Hodge (Syracuse), kicker Emilio Nadelman (USF), and defensive backs Da’Wan Hunte (North Caroline State) and Ahmad Thomas (Oklahoma). Forget about the underclassmen who have also made their way into the national spotlight.
The junior class might be as impressive as you will find anywhere in the nation from a pure talent standpoint. Running backs Joseph Yearby (FSU) and Dalvin Cook (Clemson), and offensive lineman Trevor Darling (Miami) have been coveted by every college in the country. They are regarded as top 50 players for the Class of 2014.
“I get the chance to see some of the best players in the country — at all levels,” said Corey Long of ESPN. “It would seriously be hard to find as much pure football talent as Central has.”
The Rockets, while losing in Georgia to start the year, and then to Florida’s No.1 team Bradenton Manatee, have started to watch some of those younger players mature and come together — much like Lockette and his staff believed they would.
This is a team with as much speed and athletic ability as you will find on the field at once. While Yearby and Cook have been solid, there are plenty of athletes who have stepped up and put themselves on the recruiting radar. Not just in Florida, but in all areas of the country, where they have sent prospects to for the past four years.
Among the seniors starting to get some more recruiting looks include defensive lineman Chris Herise,
The junior class also features quality cornerback Deatrick Nichols, linebacker Johnathan Harris, lineman Raul Diaz, receiver Tavius Brown and running back Malik Aadms.
Even sophomores such as nationally-rated receiver Da’vante Phillips, defensive lineman Leonal LaBranche and Fermin Silva and linebacker Bryant Clark are among the players who will continue to make an impact.
The Rockets can boast the national passing leader, Rakeem Cato, who has been brilliant for Marshall in his first two seasons, along with FSU sophomore running back Devonta Freeman.
Getting a jump
While much of the focus remains on the current Class of 2013, colleges across the country are coveting South Florida athletes enough to get commitments out of the juniors.
With the recent commit by Class of 2014 quarterback Nicodem Pierre of Coral Reef to Kansas State, the talent in this region of the country is more than just on the radar. Schools are making these youngsters a priority.
Other local athletes choosing early includes South Dade receiver C.J. Worton, Central running back Joseph Yearby, Northwestern receiver Joseph Robinson and Coral Reef receiver Jacob McCrary, who are all headed to FSU.
Other Class of 2014 prospects include Central teammates Dalvin Cook (Clemson) and lineman Trevor Darling (Miami).
We are always looking to help promote our area recruits for the current Class of 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. All you have to do is send a DVD and information about the athlete to: Larry Blustein, P.O. Box 3181, Hallandale Beach, Fl. 33009.
Have a comment? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Larry on Twitter at twitter.com/larryblustein.