Larry Blustein: FAU coach Partridge mines his South Florida roots for stellar recruiting class

 

Special to the Miami Herald

As a youngster, growing up in Plantation, Charlie Partridge knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life. Many never get a vision where it sticks with them until

embarking on that journey.

His love and passion for the game went way beyond the Friday night results. He took an early understanding what it would take to succeed — no matter — what level.

The love affair with football got stronger in high school — where he went on to be

one of Plantation’s most technical lineman — parlaying his knowledge and

understanding of the game into a chance to play the game.

What Partridge did along the way was to take a little of each of the places he had

been during his coaching career. Drake, Iowa St. and Eastern Illinois were his

personal classrooms, but Pittsburgh and Wisconsin got him ready for his first

National Signing Day.

The opportunities to work with stellar athletes and coaches at Pitt, Wisconsin and

Arkansas prepared him for the opportunity to come home and take over Florida

Atlantic University.

In a sea full of rèsumès, Partridge’s stood out because this was a job that was made

for him. Already regarded as one of the best recruiters who visits south Florida, this

was someone who wouldn’t be intimidated and certainly would ever feel he

shouldn’t be in on every athlete — no matter how others felt.

His many trips to this region of the state formed relationships that have already

helped him — with Davie University School’s Roger Harriott and Miami American’s Corey Bell —

coming over as assistant coaches on this staff. Both are coaches he holds in a regard

in all phases of the game.

Since being named head coach of this program, Partridge has worked around the

clock, setting down a foundation and heading into areas where the Owls have not

had a lot of success in the past.

This had to be a totally satisfying class for many reasons. The huge reason is the

blueprint has started to be set in place — with big-time prospects such as Hialeah

running back Henry Bussey, Weston Cypress Bay standout safety Marquese Dudley-Gordon,

Coral Gables running back Greg Howell, Coral Springs lineman Siffo Pierre, Carol

City defensive end Nicholas Richardson, American safety Andrew Soroh and South

Dade 6-6 receiver Nate Terry.

Partridge also called on other parts of the state where relationships were formed the

past 20 years. Places such as southwest Florida — where South Fort Myers lineman

Joe Gold and linebacker teammate D’Ronzjiah Mathews, and Lehigh defensive

lineman Josh Kendall played in high school

The Owls were able to get to the Panhandle, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and reached

out to Daytona Beach, Tampa, Orlando and Gainesville. The statewide relationships

really helped to round out this first class.

TALENT STILL OUT THERE

Every year, there are a number of football players who are underevaluated and

underexposed. The kind of prospects who have worked hard for the chance to get a

college scholarship on National Signing Day, but get lost in the shuffle.

Here are a few prospects who need to get some looks in the coming weeks — with the

small college recruiting fairs popping up:

• Jamal Adjamah, RB, Hialeah Mater Academy. If you told anyone when he was a

freshman that this would be a player who would not be inking his name to a

scholarship on NSD, nobody would ever believe it. Grades, talent and so much

potential when he began at Southridge. If you watch him play, he still has everything

he had before.

• Denzel Hatcher, LB, St. Thomas Aquinas. There is little doubt that this 5-11, 215-pounder has been way undersold and underevaluated by so many during this brief

process. Having watched him play, this is an athlete who certainly belongs, and he will

soon have the chance to show it. Had 63 tackles this year.

• Chris Ferdinand, DB, Homestead. Ready to go in the classroom and on the football

field. This is a football talent who is only going to get better.

• Nigel Kemp, OL. Here is a talent who has been on the radar for nearly four

years, and if you watch him play, it's hard to figure why more schools haven't been

beating down his doors.

Read more Recruiting stories from the Miami Herald

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