Talk to college football coaches across the country, and many will to tell you how successful Miami Central has been in producing elite talent during the past three years.
The Rockets, who have won two of the past three 6A state championships, are on the verge of getting back to Orlando for a fourth time, and you can thank the nearly 15 Football Bowl Subdivision-level players this program has on the roster.
While Telly Lockette started the ball rolling — before his departure to UCF — the coaching staff has pretty much remained the same as first-year coach Roland Smith took over this year.
What Smith arrived to find was a senior-oriented team stacked with perhaps more upper-level college football talent than any other high school in the country.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Add in some of the emerging sophomores and juniors and you are talking at least 25 big-time football players on one team.
“That is very much the exception and not the rule nationally,” said Dana Wiley of Prep Films. “But what Central has been able to maintain — over the past four years — is a talent level that you just cannot find anywhere.”
After losing its only game of the season to rival Miami Booker T. Washington, ranked No. 1 in the nation, the Rockets have not looked back. They have taken everyone else apart — including nationally rated Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey.
The reality about the Rockets offense is there is little way to stop the most dynamic running back duo in the country in University of Miami-bound Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cook, who will be running the ball for Florida in Gainesville.
What Cook and Yearby have done running behind five FBS prospects on the offensive line — headlined by Miami commit Trevor Darling, Raul Diaz, Michael Smith and others — is shred the competition.
Both are among the top runners statistically in South Florida once again this season.
As senior quarterback Keith Reed adds balance to this potent offense, receivers such as senior Tavius Brown Jr. and juniors Da’Vante Phillips and Taurin Wilson also give this team a huge advantage.
Even though the offense gets most of the publicity — and for good reason — the defensive is as good as it comes.
The front seven includes seniors Carlin Clark and Corey Williams, and gifted juniors Tamerick Simpson and one of the state’s best Fermin Silva, who has emerged as a true playmaker this year.
What makes the front seven so good is the play of the linebackers. Sophomores Jesen Dorvilier and Donovan Thompson work well with juniors Marquis Couch and Malik Witherspoon, and seniors Rasheed Blatch and Johnathan Harris.
With USF commit and standout Deatrick Nichols out much of the season with an injury, Hollywood McArthur senior transfer Terrell Bonds and juniors Calvin Brewton and Olin Cushion have really stepped up.
“The defense has really been overlooked on this team,” said Geoff Vogt of Fox Sports and Scout.com. “They have the kind of defense that wins championships.”