As he stands on the sideline on the football field at Nova, less than an hour before the biggest game of his season — one that many believe could be the eventual 3A title game against American Heritage Delray, Roger Harriott is cool and very much collected.
The only head football coach University School has ever had, this is someone who had a plan — from the day he stepped on campus — to have his football program in the position it’s been at the past three years.
Harriott didn’t just arrive from nowhere. This was a productive running back at St. Thomas Aquinas and collegiately at Boston University and Villanova. He has been equally as productive as a head football coach is one of the guys.
When discipline is needed, Harriott will get after his players, but the thing that earns him more respect than anything is his ability too relate to and be father figure to every player on that roster.
“Coach Harriott is one of those coaches who knows what we are all going through,” said senior receiver Jordan Cunningham. “All he asks is that you do things the proven way and take no shortcuts.”
You are not talking about the average coach, here. This is an educated leader who has fun and makes sure those around him have the same fun. This is a coach who was offered the Syracuse University running backs coaching position two years ago, and he took it. But as soon as he accepted and headed to a very successful program in the making, Harriott knew his heart was in South Florida - with his family and a program he constructed from scratch.
Harriott knows how to run a tight ship and has done it since the program was started with “regular” students, most never playing the sport competitively.
“Nine-one with players who never played the game,” Harriott challenged. “That has to be one of the most overlooked things we have done.”
Nobody can argue, even with a roster of major college talent, running off nine wins, in the first season — without any proven players — was quite an achievement. But what it did was set the table for a decent six year run that has unveiled one of the most talent-filled teams in the state.
This team is different than the others. Not that anything is a for sure, but you have to look at the superior football prospects that this program has.
To me, I have said it all along that outside linebacker Nick Internicola may be the best defensive player, right now, in South Florida. The Rutgers bound standout comes up huge in every game. Big time potential that everyone has started to notice.
As impressive as Internicola has been, the Suns also have a major list of talent, starting on offense with Cunningham, a three-year starter. The 6-2, 180-pounder is a product of this school since the beginning. One of the scholar athletes in this program who have proven they belong, and to see Miami and Stanford continue to push for his services as a student/athlete is not a mistake.
As impressive as Cunningham is as a pass-catcher, sophomore running back Jordan Scarlett (6-0, 200) is as good as you get at any level, nationally. A player who is still learning and getting stronger. He is 4.36 (40) kind of fast as well.
In addition, senior quarterback Mike White, receivers Dionte Taylor, Donnice Woods and offensive lineman Jordan Budwig; junior running back LaJuan Hunt and receiver Emmanuel Soto; and freshman receiver/kick returner Sam Bruce are all special as well.
Defensively, Internicola is the big time player, but fellow senior linebacker Skai Moore is one of those change-the-game kind of athletes. At 6-3, 215-pounds, college coaches have been on him since day 1. Two-sport (basketball) standout Maquedius Bain (6-4, 285) is also a future prospect as well.
In addition to Moore, senior linebackers Cody Schooley and Jalen Battle, defensive back Wesley Smith, sophomore linebacker Brandon Boyce, and highly-touted junior defensive back Quincy Wilson are also big time prospects.
“Most people see the things we achieved on the football field the past few years,” Harriott explained. “But the real measure of this program is out everyone grew up as young adults ready for responsibility and accountability. That is the true yardstick for me.”
Just as one football season comes to an end, preparation for future seasons have arrived.
On Dec. 29, we will find out some of the top quarterbacks and receivers in Florida as the Mastrole Passing Academy and Premier Present South Florida Quarterback and Receiver Showcase.
With a number top quarterbacks and receivers in all classes expected to gain an edge by attending this outstanding evaluation and teaching session, the objective is to jump on the radar — or help your current standing with the Miami Herald, Elite Scouting Services and all the major fan networks expected to be in attendance.
The event is open for quarterbacks and receivers 8th-12th Grade, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons High School turf complex.
Do you consider yourself one of the best quarterbacks and receivers in Florida?
Are you looking for maximum exposure with nationally recognized instruction from QB coach Ken Mastrole?
This camp will provide a full evaluation with an opportunity to be ranked. Top flight instruction, competition, and awards. Mastrole Passing Academy and Premier Athletes have coaches more then 100 athletes in the past 4 years that have gone on to play at the next level.
For more information or to register www.PassingCamp.com. Ken Mastrole, 239.919.4325.
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.
Follow Larry on Twitter at twitter.com/larryblustein.