Larry Blustein: Quarterback Class of 2015 ready to step up

 

Special to the Miami Herald

It was the perfect storm for quarterbacks. A class that had broken the mold for South Florida’s reputation of not being able to produce several top-flight signal-callers in one season.

The Class of 2014 is now but a distant memory. A trail-blazing group of prospects that used National Signing Day as a true measuring stick of national relevance.

The parade of champions centered around national recruits such as Booker T. Washington’s Treon Harris (Florida), Jackson standout Quinton Flowers (USF), Coral Reef’s Nicodem Pierre (Duke) and Sean White of University School, who is headed to Auburn.

This is a collection of quarterbacks who thrust a region of the country, known more for defensive backs and receivers it sends to the next level than passers and runners.

Longtime quarterback coach Ken Mastrole has watched much of the area’s success unfold. The onetime Cardinal Gibbons standout, who worked with first-round NFL Draft pick EJ Manuel last season — and has helped to fine-tune Ohio State’s Kenny Guyton and Clemson standout Tajh Boyd this winter — has been at the center of the South Florida quarterback rush.

While he currently instructs a number of local collegiate prospects such as Jake Rudock (Iowa), John O’Korn (Houston), E.J. Hilliard (FIU) and a group of others, his work with the Miami-Dade and Broward high school prospects during the past three years has been huge as well.

“When you have the opportunity to work with many of these exceptional athletes, you are amazed how quickly they pick things up.” Mastrole said. “Look at the class this past year and you will understand why it may have been the best they’ve produced down here.”

In addition, Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons’ Peyton Bender (Washington State), Hialeah’s Alin Edouard (Syracuse), Wade Freebeck of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (Vanderbilt), Fort Lauderdale Dillard’s Bud Martin (FIU) and Miramar’s Nick Jeanty (New Mexico State) all landed in great positions.

While the Class of 2015 quarterbacks get set to follow an almost impossible task from this past season, Mastrole and others are confident that the talent train is rolling along and colleges across the country are already tapped into it.

“The Class of 2014 is exceptional,” Mastrole said. “This coming year will be very good as well, but I think what is ahead in 2016 down here has the chance to be very special.”

Here is a look at the six established South Florida quarterbacks who figure to make the most impact in 2014:

• Maurice Alexander, 5-10, 170, Miami Booker T. Washington: There are few who have a gift like this former Homestead signal-caller. His speed, arm strength and overall athletic ability separate him from the competition. This is an athlete who fell into the right position with the defending national champions.

• Tucker Beirne, 6-2, 235, Miami Columbus: If you watched him this past season, you could tell a lot about his growth and maturity. Has caught up to the speed of this game after coming from Colorado two years ago. He will be a huge factor this year.

• Torrance Gibson, 6-4, 210, Plantation American Heritage: If we learned one thing from watching this gifted prospect the past two years, he might be the best athlete in the country — at any position. He’s a big-time prospect who just seems to get better all the time.

• Hilton Joseph, 5-10, 170, North Miami: There are very few who will move the chains like this athletic and productive prospect who threw for more than 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in his first season playing the position full time. A true run/pass player who has the chance to be very special.

• Ryan Stanley, 6-3, 200, Pembroke Pines Flanagan: Has taken more quality varsity snaps than any returning quarterback — coupled with the fact that he is capable of playing at another level makes this a prospect that everyone will be watching again this season.

• Deundre Pickett-White, 6-1, 180, Southwest Miami: His speed, athleticism and ability to make plays anywhere on the field has colleges watching and appreciating what he has meant to the Eagles.

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