There was a time — not so long ago — when spring football was a month where players and coaches could evaluate what they need to do during the summer. There was really no pressure other than to get better.
Times have changed — and for those standout football prospects in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the month of May is now time to not only get better, but also to be watched and evaluated by more than 100 college coaches who have found their way to South Florida.
In addition to the colleges getting more of an opportunity to see these prospects, the players also have more exposure than ever before.
Not only are there daily practices and scrimmages that have caught the attention of college coaches, but also with a spring game and last weekend’s Second Annual Officials Clinic and Scrimmage at Tamiami Park, which attracted 40 schools, more and more athletes are being discovered.
“Having been through four decades of coaching here in South Florida, the opportunity that the players are now receiving is tremendous,” first-year Piper coach Roger Mitchell said. “The many avenues they have down here give these talented young men more of the chance to impress.”
There were a number of schools that participated in last weekend’s scrimmage.
From Miami-Dade: Miami Springs; Miami Northwest Christian, Miami Palmer Trinity; Southwest Miami; North Miami Beach; Braddock; Coral Glades; Hialeah Goleman; Miami Archbishop Carroll; Monarch; Miami Dr. Krop, LaSalle; Miami Beach; Miami Belen Jesuit; Miami Sunset; Hialeah Miami Lakes; Coral Gables; Westland Hialeah; North Miami; Mourning; Hialeah American; Miami Edison; Miami Ferguson; and Hialeah Gardens.
From Broward: Fort Lauderdale; Deerfield Beach; Plantation; Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons; Piper; Oakland Park Northeast; Davie Nova; Flanagan; Pines Charter; Miami Coral Park; Fort Lauderdale Stranahan; Coral Springs; Pompano Beach Blanche Ely; South Plantation; and Pompano.
Prospects used the two days to grab the attention of the coaches, recruiting services and the media. Several jumped on the radar for the first time — while others backed up the hype.
Here are a few prospects who turned heads:
• Peyton Bender, QB, Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons (2014): It was easy to see why Washington State coach Mike Leach recruited this quality talent to play in the Pac-12. He is an accurate passer who makes great decisions and does what is needed to move the chains and get into the end zone.
• Anthony Brown, DE, 6-3, 235, Miami Archbishop Carroll (2014): Talk about a well-kept secret. Here is a prospect who has the chance to be very special. His size, athletic ability and knowledge of the game is becoming more and more evident as coaches are starting to see this gifted young man perform.
• Steve Ishmael, WR/S, North Miami Beach (2014): What more can you say about perhaps one of the best two-way performers in the state? This is a talented, quick athlete who does the little things to get into the end zone. On defense, he will hit you and pick you clean.
• Travis Liburd, RB/DB, Piper (2016): One of the players who will really make a huge impact this coming season. A very young performer who is athletic and has the speed to give the Bengals a threat from anywhere on the field. This is going to be one to keep an eye on.