In My Opinion

South Florida quarterbacks getting extra attention

 

If you are a high school football fan who has long believed that this region of the country is second to none when developing talent, you will love the direction the quarterbacks are starting to move in.

Although running back, receiver, defensive back and linebacker have always been the calling-card positions for some of the elite high school talent that has come out of South Florida, you can now add quarterback.

Not because a Thaddeus Lewis (Hialeah Miami Lakes) and Geno Smith (Miramar) have started to make some noise beyond college, but it’s the new breed of local talent — such as Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville), Jake Rudock (Iowa), John O’Korn (Houston) and Rakeem Cato (Marshall), who have thrust themselves into a spotlight.

Although the talent has always been in place in Miami-Dade and Broward, there never has been a showcase devoted to the development of this position.

When Ken Mastrole was in high school at Cardinal Gibbons, nobody really was doing anything to take this position to that next level.

Last weekend, Mastrole helped host the first showcase that brought in top-flight quarterbacks from all around the state. Most were players who Mastrole has watched in the past, but with more than 100 underclassmen on hand, there were some new faces as well.

“This was a showcase that really turned the corner,” Mastrole said. “I have to admit that I never realized that we have this much talent — right here in our neighborhoods. It was something that opened a lot of eyes up.”

From as far away as Homestead — where junior standout Maurice Alexander came from — and Royal Palm Beach, which produced the eventual champion of the event, freshman Todd Centeio — this turned out to be a real impressive collection of talent.

This was an event that attracted three state champion quarterbacks in Kato Nelson (Champagnat Catholic), Torrance Gibson (Plantation American Heritage) and Daniel Parr (Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer). It also produced seven top-tier players who advanced to the final round.

“I think this was a great thing to be a part of out here,” said Gibson, who brought the crowd to its feet with a 75-yard toss. “We had tremendous coaches and players out here as well.”

In addition to the Centeio and Nelson, a sophomore, the other five finalists included sophomore Tyler Huntley (Hallandale), junior Ryan Stanley (Flanagan), junior Jason Collins (Dillard), Buck Calvert (Chaminade-Madonna) and Greg LaStella of Calvary Christian.

For Stanley, who set all kinds of records this past season, the weekend not only included that Sunday performance, but also a Saturday Tournament of Champions Combine in Miramar, where he turned heads as well.

“This weekend was very important for me,” Stanley said. “To get a jump on my final season — receiving exposure the way I did — was vital.”

Another player who looked good during the competition was St. Thomas junior Jake Rizzo.

“This opportunity to come out here and compete in this environment is what the process is all about,” Rizzo said. “The players who came here were really impressive — which made the entire experience.”

Southwest Miami current junior DeUndre Pickett-White hasn’t competed in many showcase events, but his big arm and accurate passing turned heads.

“The experience of just coming up here to compete and learn was tremendous,” Pickett-White said. “This was indeed one of those things that gets you better.”

The best thing at an event of this nature is that no matter if you have a freshman – or budding prospects such as Eldrick Clapp (Coral Gables), Sage Atwood (Cape Coral Ida Baker), Kevin Dzwonkowski (Nova), D’Angelo Fulford (Northeast), Michael Harris (Monarch), Jhakari Harrison (Coconut Creek) or North Miami’s Hilton Joseph, you have gifted athletes.

“What this showcase does is help to elevate the athlete,” Mastrole said.

Among the other talented quarterbacks who showed promise include Mo Hassan and Jowan Watson (Miami Gulliver Prep); Christian Matos (Belen Jesuit); Michael Mele (South Plantation); Osky Serbin (Miami Beach); Tyler Sabine (Cooper City); Murphy Theodore (Miami High); Kole Stealy (North Broward Prep); Zach Rinker (Western); Blake Dever (St. Thomas); and Aaron Ortiz (Keys Gate Charter).

Read more Larry Blustein stories from the Miami Herald

  • 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.

  • In My Opinion

    Despite losing coach and senior talent, Miramar poised to reload

    Although this program has been one of the best in Florida over the past five years, some felt that Miramar might fall from the elite this upcoming season after losing coach Damon Cogdell and a quality class of seniors.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

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