The Dillard Panthers ran into a buzzsaw in the opening round of the state football playoffs — the eventual state champion Miami Carol City Chiefs.
But Dillard still had one of Broward County’s most talented teams.
That much was evident Wednesday morning when 10 players signed scholarships, including four defensive linemen any college coach in the country would happily take: Jonathan Ford, a 6-6, 300-pound defensive tackle, Jordan Wright, a 6-5, 230-pound end, Stephon Zayas (6-5, 205) and Frendy Darelus (6-5, 220).
Ford, an All-Broward first-team selection and three-star recruit, kept his promise to the Miami Hurricanes, a program he had been committed to for more than a year.
“It's just very exciting to know I'm finally locked in at Miami,” Ford said. “I can't wait to get down there and start meeting with Coach Kool and getting to work.”
Ford was recruited hard by several schools and said USC came close to luring him out to the West Coast. He loved his official visit out there. Had defensive coordinator Manny Diaz not transformed the UM defense the past year to an aggressive, attacking unit he might have strayed, Ford said.
“I think I can come in and play right away and help,” Ford said.
Wright, an All-Broward first-team selection in both football and basketball, signed with Kentucky despite getting plenty of love from other schools, including UM.
Ultimately, there were five schools that told Wright they were willing to also let him play on the basketball team: Florida State, Syracuse, Miami and Louisville. Ultimately, Kentucky felt like the best fit.
“It's just a blessing to have this opportunity,” said Wright, who had 10 scholarship offers for basketball and 40 in football. “A lot of people doubted that I would even have an opportunity to play two sports in college. Kentucky just felt like a family.”
Zayas, an All-Broward third-team selection and three-star recruit who likely will play outside linebacker in college, stuck with his recent commitment to the University of Central Florida over offers from Pittsburgh and Louisville.
And Darelus, a former FIU recruit up until late last week, signed with Buffalo.
Other players to sign included running back George Golden (Alabama State), defensive back Tyree McNeil (Northern Colorado), offensive lineman Denea Donaldson (Southern Louisiana Prep), kicker Orville Bennett (Edward Waters College), receiver Abdul Leiba (Edward Waters College), and outside linebacker Michael Mackey (Northern Colorado).