National Signing Day — the next big event in the college football season — is Feb. 6, and in South Florida, where talent oozes out of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, that’s almost an eternity.
Through Sunday, 47 high school seniors in the area have committed to Football Bowl Subdivision programs. Another 59, who are ranked either five-, four-, three- or two-star recruits by Rivals.com, remain undecided on their college choice.
That would be another 106 players from Dade and Broward who will likely sign on to play at the FBS level in 2013. That might be an eye-opening number for some, but that is par for the course in South Florida.
An examination of all 120 FBS programs in 2012 revealed a total of 466 athletes from Dade or Broward on 83 rosters.
That’s baby-faced true freshmen such as Hawaii safety Marrell Jackson, who led the Rainbows in tackles this season after leading Miramar High and the state in interceptions a year ago, to University of Central Florida fifth-year senior linebacker Ray Shipman, who went from earning the state’s Mr. Basketball Award in 2008 at Miami Monsignor Pace and spending two seasons playing hoops at the University of Florida to racking up 91 tackles and starting 12 games at linebacker for the Knights this past fall.
This year, The Miami Herald has decided to honor the accomplishments of the former hometown heroes at the college level with the first Dade-Broward All-FBS Team.
Although a total of 178 players from Dade and Broward were on the roster for the state’s seven FBS schools (FAU 39, FIU 38, UM 34, UCF 21, FSU 17, USF 17, UF 12), there were plenty of former local players who stood out across the country, earning all-conference honors and player of the year awards.
Here’s a position-by-position look at some of the best performances and stories of the 2012 season involving our hometown kids:
• Quarterback: The year began with Heisman expectations for former Deerfield Beach standout Denard Robinson at Michigan, but a month and a half into the season all anybody could talk about was what former Miramar star Geno Smith was doing at West Virginia. Robinson (1,266 yards rushing, 7 TDs; 1,19 yards passing 9 TDs, INTs), though, never got the Wolverines off and running and Smith (71.2% completion percentage, 4,205 yards, 42 TDs, 6 INTs) ended up being outshined by Kansas State’s Collin Klein in the Big 12 Conference when the Mountaineers season sputtered to six losses in their last eight games.
In the end, it was Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater (Miami Northwestern) and his rival from Miami Central, Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato, the Conference USA’s MVP, who had the biggest finishes. Bridgewater (68.5% completion percentage, 3,718 yards, 27 TDs, 8 INTs) won the Big East Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year award and was the hero of a Sugar Bowl upset.
In all, there were six starting quarterbacks from Dade and Broward at the FBS level and 15 overall on rosters.
• Running back: There were 25 former Dade or Broward players who took handoffs in 2012. Eight — North Carolina’s Giovanni Bernard (St. Thomas Aquinas); Bowling Green’s Anthon Samuel (Monsignor Pace); Miami’s Duke Johnson (Norland); Western Michigan’s Dareyon Chance (Cardinal Gibbons); Mississippi’s Jeff Scott (Archbishop Carroll); Buffalo’s Branden Oliver (Southridge); Marshall’s Kevin Grooms (South Broward); and FAU’s Jonathan Wallace (Boyd Anderson) — led their teams in rushing.