The nation’s top college coaches are blazing a trail south on the Turnpike all the way down to exit 5 — Biscayne Drive.
Destination: South Dade High, where they will find top recruits Tyrique Stevenson and Frank Ladson.
Now that the 2018 National Signing Day has come and gone, it’s time to focus on the top South Florida prospects for the Class of 2019.
Stevenson, who played safety, linebacker, wide receiver and kick returner as a junior, is a 6-2, 195-pounder who probably projects best as a college cornerback.
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“He’s a Jalen Ramsey type,” said South Dade coach Nate Hudson, referencing the Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback. “He can play man defense and take away your best receiver.
“Tyrique had 17 tackles, four break-ups and two interceptions against Columbus. College coaches already knew about him, but that game really put him on everyone’s radar.”
For the season, Stevenson had 13 deflections, three sacks and five interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns. He also returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score and caught two touchdown passes.
“He’s a freak of nature,” Hudson said. “He’s the best player South Dade has had since [former UM and NFL defensive back] Antrel Rolle.
“Tyrique plays varsity basketball, and his leaping ability — he put his head over the rim. There’s nothing he can’t do, which is why Nick Saban, Mark Richt, Dabo Swinney — they’ve all been in this building to recruit him.”
Those same coaches and many others are also pursuing Ladson, a 6-4, 190-pound wide receiver with 4.4 speed.
Ladson, who runs the 200 meters for the South Dade track team, was averaging 32 yards per catch earlier in the season … before opponents started double- and triple-teaming him, including a safety to choke off deep routes.
He finished with 29 catches for 687 yards, nine touchdowns and a 23.7 average. South Dade won four games that featured running clocks, which, in effect, held down Ladson’s already impressive numbers.
“Frank stretches the field with top-end speed,” Hudson said. “He makes ball adjustments that you don’t typically see from high school receivers.”
Hudson said Ladson and Stevenson are both on pace to graduate early so that they can compete in spring practice 2019 for their chosen schools.
South Dade also has another high-end prospect in Joe Smith, a transfer from Southridge who can play linebacker or safety at 6-1, 200 pounds. Hudson compares him at similar stages to former Michigan star Jabrill Peppers, now of the Cleveland Browns.
Outside of South Dade, other prospects to watch include Palm Beach Central cornerback Akeem Dent, who has committed to Florida State.
Depending on who you ask, either Stevenson or Dent will be the No. 1 cornerback in the nation after this summer’s 7-on-7 camps.
Elsewhere, Josh Sanguinetti of University School is ranked the nation’s No. 1 safety, and teammate Kenny McIntosh is an elite running back, whose brother, RJ, started at defensive tackle last season for the Canes.
Miami High’s Dontae Lucas, a 6-4, 325-pounder, is the nation’s No. 7 offensive guard.
Overall, though, South Florida’s Class of 2019 is deepest in receivers and defensive backs, which par for the proverbial course in this speed-rich area.
▪ Linebacker Mikel Jones, a standout in the Class of 2019, has transferred from Mater Academy to IMG.
SOUTH FLORIDA’S CLASS OF 2019
1: Tyrique Stevenson, South Dade, 6-2, 195, CB
2: Frank Ladson, South Dade, 6-4, 190, WR
3: Josh Sanguinetti, University School, 6-1, 170, S
4: Akeem Dent, Palm Beach Central, 6-1, 170, CB
5: Kenny McIntosh, University School, 6-1, 205, RB
6: Ge’Mon Eaford, Deerfield Beach, 6-1,220, LB
7: Brieon Fuller, Doral Academy, 6-1, 175, WR
8: Anthony Solomon, St. Thomas Aquinas, 6-0, 190, OLB
9: Nayquan Wright, Carol City, 5-8, 185, RB
10: Jaden Davis, St. Thomas Aquinas, 5-10, 160, CB
11: Kaiir Elam, WPB Benjamin School, 6-1, 180, WR
12: Keontra Smith, Chaminade, 5-11, 205, S
13: Michael Morris, Delray American Heritage, 6-5, 250, DE
14: Khris Bogle, Cardinal Gibbons, 6-4, 210, DE
15: John Dunmore, Chaminade, 6-2, 170, WR
16: Dontae Lucas, Miami High, 6-4, 325, OG
17: Tyler Scott, University School, 5-10, 180, S
18: Braylen ingraham, Aquinas, 6-4, 260, DE
19: Mark Richards, Wellington, 6-1, 195, WR
20: Te’Cory Couch, Chaminade, 5-10, 155, CB
21: Denzel Daxon, Norland, 6-2, 305, DT
22: Mark Fox, Northwestern, 6-4, 260, OG
23: Daniel Carter, Aquinas, 5-11, 195, RB
24: Jahmar Brown, Aquinas, 6-1, 190, LB
25: Joe Smith, South Dade, 6-1, 200, LB/S
Sources: ESPN, 247 Sports, recruiting experts