In my opinion

Dolphins shine spotlight on local schools


Yet another facet of recruiting was introduced to South Florida athletes this past Saturday at Sun Life Stadium — an experience that many will never forget unfolded away from the playing field.

The Miami Dolphins Inaugural High School Media Day took place, bringing players, coaches and media agencies from throughout the region. Once again, the big winner on this day was the players and coaches who found that this part of the recruiting process could be rewarding.

Starting at 8 a.m. and ending after 5 p.m., dozens of local standouts, hopefuls and coaches took in the entire event.

“This was a big time production,” said Hallandale defensive back John Battle IV, who is already committed to LSU. “You get a photo taken, a video interview done and have the chance to answer questions — just like the Dolphins do — in a press conference.”

This next step in the recruiting process was one that former Dolphins and current team Youth Marketing Directors Twan Russell and Troy Drayton look at as another tool in this process.

“This is an excellent opportunity for many of the top players to continue to be recognized,” Russell pointed out. “It is also a very good way for under-the-radar talent to be talked about.”

While Fort Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas, Miami Booker T. Washington, Miami Central and Fort Lauderdale University School grabbed much of the media attention, there were other schools and players who had the chance to rub elbows with some of the best in the country.

North Miami Beach coach Jeff Bertani, fresh off the practice field, wanted to ensure that his standout receiver Steve Ishmael and young quarterback Cedric Wiggins got their two minutes in the spotlight.

“You look at our program — and what we have done for the past 20 years — and I would say that things have worked out very well for a lot of young men,” Bertani said. “Something like this that the Dolphins are hosting is great for everyone, and we are honored to take part in it.”

At Cypress Bay, Mark Guandolo’s Lightning has no time to rebuild. This team needs to reload quickly with teams such as Miramar and Everglades poised to make a playoff run.

“The Dolphins really added to a part of this recruiting process that was missing,” Guandolo said. “Dealing with the media is an important part of this thing year-round.”

Champagnat Catholic has been one of the teams that everyone was watching all summer. One of the key additions, University of Miami defensive line commit Travonte Valentine, was blown away by the experience.

“This is a really big time event that they are having here,” said Valentine, who played for Palm Bay Bayside in Central Florida last season. “The Miami Dolphins dress in these locker rooms and hold their press conferences where we did.”

Teams such as Miami Northwestern and Miami Jackson that are used to the spotlight, but programs such as Florida City Barrington Christian, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach Zion Lutheran, Miami Country Day and Pembroke Pines Charter were in a spotlight that was new to them.

“This gives us the chance to be on the same stage as the teams that get all national hype,” Hollywood Hills junior linebacker Juwann Taylor said. “We come out here and get to talk with the media and put our names out there.”

One of the closest schools to the event — Miramar — made good use of the center stage Saturday. For senior linebacker Ryan Samuels, it signals the final year of a career in which his teams finished among the best in Florida. Samuels, a three-year starter and one of the top scholastic prospects in the state, has contributed to the success of the program and believes this is one of those programs that will be around for a long time.

“Coach [Damon] Cogdell really came in here and has been the total head football coach,” Samuels said. “He made sure that everything was in order off the field before anyone ever got the chance to do what they do with a football in their hands.”

As the players spent the day trying to tell the media why their teams would be the best, programs filed in to stake their claim. North Broward Prep was on hand. So was Miami Belen Jesuit, Davie Nova, Miami Palmetto, West Broward, Hialeah Mater Academy, Blanche Ely, Homestead, Coral Springs, Miami Norland, Western, Hialeah, Somerset Academy and many more.

“From everything we heard, this was a very successful event,” Russell said. “It was a unique setting in the fact that we had as many of the top prospects as you will find anywhere in the country — under one roof — for the day.”

We are always looking to help promote our area recruits for the current Class of 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. All you have to do is send a You Tube or Hudl link and information about the athlete to: Larry Blustein at Check out our list of statewide prospects as well on the High School Blog.

Follow Larry on Twitter at

Read more Larry Blustein stories from the Miami Herald

  • In My Opinion

    Local high school linemen drawing notice

    There was a time when college recruiters would come to South Florida, check out the receivers, running backs and secondary prospects and then head back north to get their linemen. Times have certainly changed.

  • In My Opinion

    Flanagan football team a true contender

    Devin Bush remembers when it happened. The time and place where his Flanagan High football program had finally turned that corner and became a team that was no longer a pretender in the race to get to the state championship game.

Columbus High football coach Chris Merritt.

    In My Opinion

    Columbus High football has abundance of talent, experience

    When Miami Columbus head coach Chris Merritt and his assistants looked back on the 2013 football season, the lack of experience jumped out as the reason his team failed to win the district and posted an “average” 7-5 record.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category