Larry Blustein

Larry Blustein: Playoff games give prospects big-time exposure

No matter what football program you play for, getting the opportunity to compete in the playoffs is a huge plus when it comes to recruiting.

That extra week or weeks of film can make the difference in how much scholarship money comes your way. You turn your talents up a few notches during a playoff game and you never know who is watching.

When North Miami head coach Ed Williams guided the Pioneers to the postseason for the first time since 1999, he gave seniors such as defensive tackle Alix Cesar and defensive back Bryan Jacques additional exposure.

“You work so hard to get these young men noticed over a three-year period, you feel great that they get that extra week of practice and more video exposure,” Williams explained. “Playing in the postseason is huge for many athletes who haven’t heard from schools yet.”

Teams not used to the glow of the postseason have learned to use the time wisely when they prepare for games. Miami-Dade programs such as Coral Gables, Westminster Christian, Champagnat Catholic and Miami Springs have not been able to use the playoffs as a recruiting tool in the past. But times have changed.

Champagnat’s Mike Tunsil has used this first appearance in the postseason fully to the advantage of a few seniors who haven’t made a decision, but he has used the first two rounds to showcase one of the most impressive junior classes around.

“This is huge for this program and these players,” Tunsil said. “The farther we go, the better news for the players on this team.”

In Broward County, usual powers such as Miramar, St. Thomas Aquinas, Deerfield Beach, University School, Plantation and American Heritage have been joined by recent playoff newcomers such as Dillard, Blanche Ely, Monarch and Flanagan.

For first-year head coach Devin Bush, his Falcons posted a 9-2 season, losing to Deerfield Beach in overtime in the opening week of the playoffs. What Bush and his young squad did was provide additional looks for many of the seniors who haven’t made that important decision. It also gave his sophomores and juniors another shot at impressing before the offseason.

“I know that any additional games you have the chance to play, it’s a win/win all the way around,” Bush pointed out. “Nobody likes to lose, but if you gain something from the loss, like we have, it makes it easier to continue the process.”

• We already know some of the elite running backs for this current junior and senior class, but what about that very talented Class of 2016 — where University of Miami commit Mark Walton of Booker T. Washington is among the best nationally.

As impressive as Walton is, and he is a big-time prospect, Miami-Dade has two others who have a chance to be very special.

Strong postseason performances by Keino Mike of Coral Gables and Ivan Smith of Christopher Columbus will be among the best in the country over the next few years.