There was a time when college recruiters would come to South Florida, check out the receivers, running backs and secondary prospects and then head back north to get their linemen. Times have certainly changed.
What has made this region of the country so special now is the quality athletes you can recruit, and it’s not just the skilled position athletes. The linemen we are now producing rival anyplace and that includes Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio two of the hotbeds where many schools land the players in the trenches. Nobody learned that more than Hollywood Hills senior offensive tackle Dusan Etienne. This past summer, the 6-7, 310-pounder, who was on nobody’s radar screen, headed to a line camp in Ocala. In just one day, he vaulted himself from a virtual unknown to one of the elite prospects in the state.
Because he played in a Wing-T offense, Etienne was never showcased, but coaches who watched his film, and then saw him compete in person, were bowled over —including two former NFL linemen who worked the camp.
“I always knew that I had the ability, but very few coaches had said anything,” Etienne said. “All it takes is for someone to see you, check out your athleticism and things take off.”
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Hollywood Hills head coach Al Lang always knew Etienne was special. He watched him play on both sides of the ball, and because he is such an outstanding athlete, it was only a matter of time before he was discovered.
“There has never been any doubt that he is a very special line prospect,” Lang said. “He is so athletic that he actually would travel with our 7-on-7 team, and that to me speaks volumes about what he brings to the table.”
Etienne is not the only South Florida line prospect who has been turning heads in the Class of 2015. St. Thomas Aquinas also boasts Syracuse-bound Colin Byrne (6-5, 295) and Sam Clausman (6-4, 290) as well as FIU commitment Rechard Desir-Jones (6-3, 285) and Philip Parchment (6-4, 280).
In addition there are Leeward Brown (6-4, 300, Miramar), Christian Strachan (6-4, 315, Hialeah Champagnat Catholic), Andy Moreira (6-3, 280, Coral Gables), FIU commit Richard Williams (6-2, 255, Miramar Everglades), UAB commitment Kirk Livingstone (6-4, 235, Fort Lauderdale Stranahan), Montel Jordan (6-3, 320, Deerfield Beach), William Gordon (6-4, 318, Norland), and Miami Central’s Jason Jean (6-4, 290), who has committed to Marshall, and returning starter Robzel Sylvester (6-3, 285) as well as Plantation American Heritage’s Noah Bringas (6-4, 320) and Brett Kahn (6-4, 270).
The Class of 2015 is one of the deepest south Florida has had in a long time — with Carol City’s Michael Sawyer (6-3, 265), Marquise Barnes (6-5, 280) of Hialeah Miami Lakes) and Miami Booker T. Washington standouts Deiontae Lynch (6-3, 280), Clayton Cobb (6-2, 260) and Ben Tirolia (6-3, 300).
As the senior class has set standards for offensive linemen, the next two groups of players, there are some very impressive big men to keep an eye on — such as elite juniors like Edison’s Keldrick Caesar (6-3, 290), Navaughn Donaldson (6-3, 310, Central), (Louie Berkowitz (6-3, 260, Plantation American Heritage), Roodney Leon (6-3, 280, Deerfield Beach), Obinna Nwanko (6-3, 255, Miramar) and Michael Davis (6-1, 260) and Boman Swanson (6-4, 245) from Homestead South Dade.
The Class of 2017 is already mark and getting plenty of attention with prospects such as Teaki Fuller (6-3, 250, Booker T. Washington), Corey Gaynor (6-1, 220, Parkland Douglas), Kedonis Haslem (6-4, 285, Miami Dade Christian), Andre Lopez (6-4, 280, Miami Braddock), Robert Perez (6-2, 270, Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons) as well as elite prospects Tedarrell Slaton (6-5, 320, Plantation American Heritage), Kyron Taylor, 6-1, 265, South Dade) and Kadeem Telfort, 6-6, 310, Miami Norland).