South Florida — once again — shined bright on one of the biggest stages in high school football.
Davie University School quarterback and Auburn commitment Sean White completed 10 of 12 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns to win MVP honors and lead Team Highlight to a 31-21 victory over Team Nitro in the Under Armour All-America Game at Tropicana Field on Thursday.
Along with White, Miami Central running back Dalvin Cook and West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman wide receiver Travis Randolph also scored touchdowns, giving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties a touchdown each in the game.
“Just coming with a chip on my shoulder, and I’ve always felt like I’ve been underrated,” White said. “It was an awesome opportunity to come out and make the most of it, and I think I did.”
Added Cook, a Florida State commitment as of Tuesday: “I put on for 305. Florida — that’s it. I think we got the best talent.”
Cook’s decision to decommit from the University of Florida and join Florida State was all business. Cook said he knew since October he wanted to become a Seminole and is ready to start school Monday as an early enrollee.
“I’m relieved right now,” said Cook, who had eight carries for 78 yards. “I’m glad I got it off my chest and running out here [Thursday], I’m free.”
Cook also had a strong conviction regarding the five-year, $21 million extension FSU coach Jimbo Fisher signed Tuesday, and possibilities Fisher could take the Texas coaching job.
“I doubt there’s going to be a coaching change,” Cook said. “I enroll Sunday or Saturday so I doubt there’s going to be a coaching change.”
Randolph, a former UM commit who also considered UF, committed to FSU during the game.
Homestead receiver and UF commitment Ermon Lane, a close friend of Cook’s, said after the game he’s going to wait until National Signing Day on Feb. 5 to make a final decision on a school. Lane plans on taking an official visit to FSU on Jan. 31 — his only official visit because of a low ACT score.
Florida commit Quincy Wilson from University School tried throughout Under Armour’s five days of practices and festivities to keep his peers on board with the Gators, but to no avail.
“Dalvin, he’s going to do what best for him,” Wilson said. “I mean, his reason is pretty legit on why he went to FSU so I’m not mad.”
As for Lane, Wilson said: “I think he’s just playing games. He likes the attention, but I think he’s coming to Florida.”
For University of Miami fans, Thursday was the first time many saw slot receiver recruit Braxton Berrios on a national stage. Berrios — rated a four-star recruit by several media outlets — had a 26-yard catch in the first quarter, injured his foot on a reverse handoff in the second quarter and returned to catch a 6-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone in the fourth quarter.
Berrios said he made great connections with fellow UM commits Chad Thomas (Miami Booker T. Washington defensive end), Kc McDermott (Palm Beach Central offensive tackle) and Trevor Darling (Miami Central offensive lineman).
“In our minds, we said we’ll do what we got to do to make a better program,” Thomas said.
Chaminade guard Brandon Jai Jai Ram finally hit the game-winning shot that he had only dreamed of until Thursday.
Ram joined select company when he took a pass from Nikita Orap and drained a buzzer-beating three-pointer as the Lions shocked Wellington 33-30 in the first round of the Adidas Holiday Slam Classic at Florida Christian.
As the game-winning shot settled into the net, Ram pumped his fist and skipped down court, setting off a raucous celebration that culminated with teammates mobbing Ram and then parading him around the Florida Christian court.
“I never thought I would take a shot like that but I did and made it," Ram said. "We were trying to get Nikita to push the ball and get to the basket but he didn’t. Luckily he passed it to me and I hit the shot."
Wellington’s Alex Dieudonne opened the door for Ram’s dramatic shot by missing the front end of a 1-and-1 with 7.6 seconds left. Orap rushed the ball upcourt after grabbing the rebound and found Ram wide open on the left wing.
The Lions (9-4) advanced to face Coral Gables, which beat Port St. Lucie Treasure Coast 77-60, in the Dwight Howard bracket semifinals on Friday.
Ram’s winning shot was one of the few offensive highlights in a game that featured Chaminade shooting 31.4 percent and the Wolverines 28.1 percent, and Dieudonne’s 11 points leading all scorers.
“Brandon needed that,’’ said Chaminade coach Andre Torres. “ He has grown a lot this year. That was a big shot. Things played out in our favor. We told them to spread and push the ball and see if we could get a good shot. We will take it however it goes in.”
Chaminade held Wellington to three points in the third quarter to take a 22-17 lead going into the fourth quarter. Dieudonne hit a three-pointer to put the Wolverines ahead 30-29 with 1:27 left and had a chance to give the Wolverines a three point cushion with 24 seconds left but his his layup attempt rolled off the rim.
Chaminade’s Kevin Munoz made one of two free throws to tie the score 30-30 with 16.4 seconds left.
• Chaminade 33, Wellington 30: WEL (7-7): Kwiatek 6, Coulanges 2, Prud’homme 3, Joseph 6, Dieudonne 11, Milligan 2. CH (9-4): Ram 7, Munoz 7, Robinson 3, Dumornay 5, Alllende 6, Orap 5. Three-pointers: Joseph 1, Prud’homme 1, Ram 2, Orap 1, Robinson 1. Rebounds: Dumornay 5.• Late Wednesday — Coral Gables 77, Treasure Coast 60: CG: Martinez 8, Aminu 18, Delrosario 14, Figuereo 10, Melendez 5, Sanchez 3, Hall 13, Cajina 2, Hernandez 2, Brown 2. Rebounds: Martinez 5. Assists: Delrosario 3, Sanchez 3. Steals: Sanchez 5.
• North Miami 62, St. Brendan 58: NM: St. Gilles 2, Bailey 8, Gassant 19, Seide 24, Theoc 4, Dominique 5. SB: Martinez 20, Dominguez 2, Rodriguez 5, Padro 6, Falla 21, Canas 2, Bonet 2.• Ransom Everglades 39, Sheridan Hills Christian 33: RE: Lopez 25, Ajagbe 4, Ertel 3, Schatz, Mia 3, Hallman 4. SHC: Mclurly 21, Hyde 9, Flevylor 1, Ruiz 2. Rebounds: Stern 14.
• Hebrew Academy 57, Archbishop Curley 41: HA (9-2): Dobin 23, Matis 19, Weiss 12, Suster 3. ABC: Ashllyne 23, Ashley 8, Janelle 3, Sarisha 3. Rebounds: Dobin 14. Assists: Weiss 9.