Larry Blustein

Larry Blustein: Talent in 2016 class rising fast

On the heels of what many have called two of the most impressive and talented classes that South Florida has developed, 2016 already has proven that it will be loaded with quality football.

With the Classes of 2014 and 2015 already showcasing the many elite prospects that this region always has to offer, this upcoming junior class has been turning heads since many arrived on the high school level.

When this class began, there was a core five players who were viewed — earlier on — as prospects who were on that “fast track to the NFL.”

In that mix of players you had wide receiver Sam Bruce and defensive lineman Nick Bosa from St. Thomas, Gulliver Prep defensive back/wide receiver Dionte Mullins, Champagnat wide receiver Darnell Salomon and Booker T. Washington running back Mark Walton. All are impact prospects who take teams to the next level.

Even though these five still stand tall, this is after all, one of the most prospect-rich regions in the country and several other elite prospects have started to join this quality group. The special players from this class seem to get more exposure each and every week during the season and take full advantage of the off season.

Among those offensive prospects to keep an eye on include a South Florida quarterback class that many are thinking rivals the 2014 group that sent top-flight prospects across the country.

Champagnat’s Kato Nelson, Hallandale’s Tyler Huntley, Coconut Creek’s Jhakari Harrison, Belen Jesuit’s Christian Matos, Edison’s Eddy Mendez, Cypress Bay’s Kole Stealy, Jackson’s Desmond Phillips, Chaminade’s “Buckshot” Calvert and Central’s Jerrod Thomas have plenty of talent.

“This quarterback class is really impressive,” said Ken Mastrole, who runs Mastrole Passing Academy. “From a technical standpoint, one of the more dynamic we’ve had. This is the group that started early and has come on quickly.”

Although Walton is the marquee back of the class, he isn’t alone. Cardinal Gibbons speedster Deon McIntosh and Coral Gables’ standout Keino Mike are impressive. So is Coral Springs Charter’s Kalen Carson and a number of other players who will rise to the top during the spring.

Receivers are also going to be special, with Northeast’s 6-4, 195-pound Binjimen Victor leading the way — along with American Heritage’s Brandon Johnson and Dredrick Snelson.

The depth at receiver in this class has prospects such as Miami Westminster Christian’s Tony Gaiter, Carol City’s Steve Newbold, Southridge standout Freddie Pinder, Malek Young (Coconut Creek), Hallandale’s Chris Cotto and Neru N’Shaka, as well as North Miami’s Henry Payoute. Even tight end Vosean Joseph from Norland is looking for a breakout year.

Defensively, linemen such as Gulliver Prep’s Joseph Jackson (6-6, 240), Dillard’s Aaron Thompson (6-3, 240), Monarch’s Matt Croyle (6-1, 250), Zion Lutheran’s Chris Judge (6-3, 230) and Northwestern’s Kier Thomas (6-2, 225) have the chance to be special.

Coral Gables’ linebacker Shakur Cooper has the chance to be as talented as the Cavaliers have had — and they have produced some quality prospects at this position throughout the years. Other quality linebackers for the class will include Bradley Clements (American Heritage), South Broward’s Edward King, Hosea McMullin (Booker T. Washington) and Donovan Thompson (Central).

South Florida is full of quality defensive backs. Gulliver Prep safety Cedric Wright and Booker T. Washington cornerback Dontye Carriere-Williams are headed to the next level. Champagnat’s Antoine Webster, Stranahan’s Marcus Garvin, Hallandale’s Jaelyn Faulk and Central’s Jamel Cook are also special.