In My Opinion

Larry Blustein: Central, Booker T. show why Florida dominates


There is a little secret around football circles that South Florida dominates rosters in the NFL. It has always made it fun around spring, when nearly every major college come and “shop” for the nation’s most coveted athletes.

With all the colleges in the state of Florida getting more than their share of the local talent pool, out-of-state schools have discovered they can get their teams better by infusing what Miami-Dade and Broward counties have to offer.

In high school football, where many have long felt that the powers in California, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania could stand toe-to-toe with the prospects in South Florida, the national matchups have given many an indication of just why so many professional football players grew up in this fertile region.

If any year has started to back up what many had boasted about, it’s this year when Miami Booker T. Washington, Miami Central, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas and University School have the chance to back up the talk and the bravado.

The nation watched as Booker T., which is No. 1 in the national in several polls, simply pounded No. 5 Norcross at home in Georgia. It was something that was talked about on national programs. The Tornadoes, after playing the other No. 1 team in the nation in Central, will get another national TV opportunity at nationally-rated Las Vegas Bishop Gorman in October.

The exposure of being in the national spotlight has many positives. Just ask BTW offensive lineman Jordan Ingraham and defensive end/outside linebacker Tevin Evans. They were just numbers on the roster to many analysts before dominating in front of millions.

“The chance to get some of the very talented athletes out there, in front of a live talent evaluator is everything,” said BTW coach Tim “Ice” Harris. “The trouble sometimes is that people aren’t used to schools having 10-15 high level athletes like we have down here. That leaves many good players without any push.”

When Cypress Bay and American Heritage Plantation opened the season with a nationally televised kickoff classic on ESPN, several players were outstanding. But without a showcase game like that, nobody would have known that Isaiah McKenzie is easily the best kick returner maybe in the country. Nobody heard much about safety Carter Jacobs, linebacker Brandon Vicens or junior quarterback Torrance Gibson.

That same doubleheader saw the nation officially get introduced to Homestead’s Ermon Lane, Gilbert Johnson, Maurice Alexander, Davante Davis, Frank Newman, Anthony Wint and others. They also watched University School’s future with defensive back Rashard Causey, Brandon Boyce and running back Jordan Scarlett.

When St. Thomas Aquinas and Miami Northwestern attracted a TV audience for the season-opener at Sun Life Stadium, it gave both teams an opportunity to showcase the many elite prospects and also those under the radar prospects.

“You hope to get your players as much exposure as possible, every week,” said Northwestern coach Stephen Field. “To have the chance to lineup against a program like St. Thomas was what this team needs to get back where we need to be.”

The Raiders, who still have a few nationally-televised games ahead, especially next Saturday in New Orleans against John Curtis, also had the chance to see players such as Jake Stewart (linebacker) and Sean Bender (tight end) get into the spotlight.

Read more Larry Blustein stories from the Miami Herald

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