“It was a little joke,” Moore said. “But at the same time, it was a challenge. He still wants to be on top and he’s gonna work hard for that.”
Other commitments: Nick Internicola, LB, 6’3”, 230, Rutgers; Maquedius Bain, DT, 6’3”, 308, LSU; Dionte Taylor, WR, 6’0”, 165, Illinois; Jalen Battle, ATH, 6’3”, 180, Illinois St.; Aubrey Duty-Tyson, LB, 6’1”, 230, Air Force; Jordan Budwig, OL, 6’4”, 310, FIU; Mike White, QB, 6’5”, 195, USF; Wesley Smith, DB, 5’11”, 170, Villanova; David Garner, DB, 5’10”, 185, undecided; D.J. Woods, WR, 5’10”, 160, Massachusetts.
An overflow crowd in the Media Center at Cypress Bay said it all on Wednesday morning. Led by a football team that came within an eyelash of winning a state title two months ago, plenty of souvenir pens and contracts lined the table as 18 athletes inked scholarships.
But the center of attention were the football players who led their team to the state title game and the biggest surprise might have been running back Matt Dayes.
After recently saying he would sign up to play at Vanderbilt, Dayes came in wearing a North Carolina State cap, committing to go play for the Wolfpack and new coach Dave Doerne, who came over from Northern Illinois.
“I made the decision a couple of days ago and just went with my heart,” Dayes said. “I really liked the school and the new coaching staff coming in and felt it would be the best fit for me.”
Somebody else looking for a good fit was wide receiver Alex Montgomery. With some schools projecting him as a defensive back, a jaw-dropping spectacular performance in the state title game against Apopka — including a pair of one-handed touchdown receptions changed that landscape as Montgomery signed up to go play at Kentucky and another new coach in Mark Stoopes.
“I’m not really sure if that changed anything but I know I did want to go somewhere to play wide receiver,” said Montgomery referring to his title game performance. “I like the fact that you have a whole new coaching staff coming in and really enjoyed my visit with Coach Stoopes and the coaches when I went there.”
Also inking football deals were linebacker Nico Marley (Tulane), cornerback Boaz Joseph (Nebraska) and tight end Blake Worbington (John Hopkins).
“Just a great day for our program and the entire school,” coach Mark Guandolo said. “This is why we spend all of those countless hours doing what we do, for moments like this. It’s a proud day for everyone from players to coaches to parents to teachers. No one individual creates this, it’s a team of hard-working dedicated people.”
One person noticeably absent was quarterback Jaranta Lewis.
“A few things fell through at the last minute for Jaranta so we’ll have to go back to the drawing board and see what we can do for him,” said Guandolo.
Plantation American Heritage
In case nobody is sure just what an oasis Plantation American Heritage is for athletics need only look at the lineup of athletes signed to scholarships early Wednesday morning. A total of 24 kids with parents behind them had chairs lined up and there almost wasn’t enough room on the stage to fit everyone.
Headliners leading the way were football commits Tyler Cogswell , Bryant Gross-Armiento and Michael Deeb wearing hats from the University of Cincinnati, Rutgers and Notre Dame, respectively.
Cogswell, a quarterback with a magnificent frame at 6-4, 226 said he liked Cincinnati from the start with new coach Tommy Tuberville coming over from Texas Tech.
“Not only was the school great but the offensive system they’re bringing in really appealed to me and I felt I would be able to compete for a job right away,” said Cogswell who led the Patriots to a 9-1 regulation season before suffering an upset loss to Jackson in the first round. “I’m really excited and looking forward to the new opportunity.”
There was no drama with Gross-Armiento’s choice as he committed to Rutgers last August and his entire family arrived in blazing red Scarlet Knights T-shirts.
“It was a perfect marriage,” said Gross-Armiento, a 6-1, 188 lbs. cornerback. “I committed to them way back last August and never waivered on my decision and they never waivered on their commitment to me.”
“Athletically, academically and spiritually, I could not ask for a better school to attend,” said Deeb, a 6-2, 237 lbs. inside linebacker who said ND’s 3-4 defense will suit him perfectly. “I feel honored to be in this situation and plan on making the most of my opportunity.
Other football commits included Darius Holiday (Bowling Green), Tyler Carmona (Naval Academy) and Alec Montes De Oca (Bates College).
Hallandale coach Dameon Jones said his school has had to deal with being in the shadows of other Broward County schools.
On Wednesday, he celebrated his sixth signing day at the school, with six more players signing letters of intents to play at the collegiate level further validating his team’s success beyond wins and losses.
Linebacker Jeremy Derrick was the only player choosing to stay close to home and attend FIU. Fellow linebacker Aaron Plantt signed to Marshall, wide receiver Hussein Gordon signed to Virginia Union, and Howard University secured offensive tackle Ronald Neilly and linebacker Robert Alexander.
“This is pay day for high school coaches,” Jones said. “Obviously you want to win a state title, but the next best thing is to send these kids off to college.”
Derrick, who was committed to FIU while Mario Cristobal was coach, said he quickly built a new rapport with new coach Ron Turner through a home visit and unofficial visits to the school. Along with FIU’s new facilities, Derrick said he’s looking forward to seeing the field early.
“I’m trying to break records this year,” Derrick said. “I’m trying to get everything I can get.”
Jones said seeing Derrick’s growth as a player and person evolve since his freshman year on junior varsity has been a rewarding experience.
“Jeremy was a little like a loose cannon a little bit,” Jones said. “And to see him go from that to where he is now, it’s just amazing. It’s so fulfilling.”
After visiting Howard together, Neilly and Alexander knew the campus was the right place for them.
“They preferred Howard because of the tradition and Washington D.C. was something new for them,” Jones said.
Alexander enjoyed the fact that Howard was in an historic area, while Neilly said he enjoyed the family atmosphere the most. They both are looking forward to bringing the chemistry they shared on the field to their new teammates.
Jones said former Hallandale and University of Florida wide receiver Frankie Hammond was the catalyst to the program having multiple signees during his time at the school. And just like Hammond, Jones believes his kids will shine through the shadow other Broward schools cast in the country.
“I think these kids can play anyone in the county – Dade, Broward, West Palm,” Jones said. “And I think they can play well at the next level, too.”