Soldinger was helping out at Southridge earlier this season. He noticed guys were skipping weight room sessions or not filling out their logs. He asked Clinton Portis to address the players.
“He came in, and the one kid I wanted to listen to him didn’t show up,” Soldinger said. “Great athlete, but as Clinton said, as Frank Gore and Edgerrin James say, you’ve got to have the right mentality. You’ve got to hustle like crazy, no excuses. What you demand of yourself is what you get.”
Soldinger reels off names of coaches from Jacksonville to Lakeland to the Panhandle to Pahokee and Belle Glade and back to Miami and Fort Lauderdale. From Nick Kotys to George Smith to Billy Rolle.
“Florida is known for good coaching,” Soldinger said. “College recruiters know they are getting a complete person from our top schools. The best coaches preach the tough lessons. There’s a difference between running a program and putting a team on the field.”
South Florida sets itself apart this time of year. Not just because its quarterbacks, running backs, defensive backs and linebackers are faster, but because they have been breathing the air permeated by football passion since they were kids playing in the street.
It’s why it is easy to name accomplished native sons: Teddy Bridgewater (Northwestern, Louisville), Denard Robinson (Deerfield Beach, Michigan), Geno Smith (Miramar, West Virginia), Amari Cooper (Northwestern, Alabama), Devonta Freeman (Central, Florida State), Duke Johnson (Norland, University of Miami), Giovani Bernard (St. Thomas, North Carolina). The roll call goes on, and includes a long list of pros such as Gore and Jonathan Vilma (Coral Gables), Andre Johnson (Miami High), Antrel Rolle (South Dade), Kenny Phillips (Carol City), Jon Beason (Chaminade), Brandon Harris (Booker T.).
More will earn a championship this weekend that is extra special because it signifies best in the state of Florida.