Archive for January, 2010
St. Thomas Aquinas H.S. (Florida) running back Giovanni Bernard has committed to North Carolina. Bernard had committed to Notre Dame earlier but began looking around when Charlie Weiss was let go.
Temple H.S. (Texas) running back and Gridironstuds.com member Lache Seastrunk has committed to Oregon. Seastrunk has been sought after by virtually every school in the country. In the end, Seastrunk chose Oregon over Auburn, LSU, California, USC and Memphis.
Boyd Anderson H.S. (Florida) DB Demar Dorsey has been dropped by Florida as a recruit. There has been much speculation that Dorsey was going to change his commitment from Florida to Florida St. This recent moves all but seals that.
Manatee H.S. (Florida) wide receiver Ace Sanders has chosen South Carolina. Sanders was also being recruited by West Virginia, Rutgers, USF, Purdue and Iowa St.
Taft H.S. (CA) running back/defensive back Lucky Radley has picked up four new offers from Texas Tech, Nebraska, Kansas and Duke.
American Heritage-Delray (Florida) athlete Darius Milines has dropped West Virginia and has switched to Marshall following former Mountaineer coach Doc Holiday.
St. Thomas Aquinas H.S. (Florida) linebacker Vinnie Mauro has committed to the Navy. Mauro had offers from Rutgers, Wisconsin, Marshall, FIU and Vanderbilt among other schools.
Glenville H.S. (Ohio) safety Latwan Anderson is saying that he recently received an offer from USC and is considering it. Anderson committed to West Virginia at the Army All-American game and was in Cincinnati on an official recruiting visit this past weekend. Anderson stated recently that he will probably not take an official visit to Miami as had been previously reported. Anderson says he has not spoken to Miami coaches in weeks.
Boyd Anderson H.S. safety Demar Dorsey who is a Florida commit was in Michigan this past weekend and came away impressed. Dorsey will also be taking a visit to USC.
Frostproof H.S. (Florida) cornerback Nickell Robey will be taking official visits to West Virginia and USC in the upcoming weekends. Robey is undecided and is juggling offers from West Virginia, USC, Georgia, Ohio St. and Virginia Tech.
Highly recruited 2011 Florida athlete Tacoi Sumler has transferred from Gulliver Prep to Homestead H.S.. Sumler, who boasts a 4.33 forty yard dash has offers from Clemson, Florida St., Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, Tulane and West Virginia.
Among them was first-year Marshall coach Doc Holliday, who was hired in December. Lee worked with Holliday at West Virginia in 1999.
The result of their brief reunion was a pair of scholarship offers for Nature Coast senior running back Tevin Drake and junior receiver/defensive back Ja’Juan Story.
Drake spoke with Holliday on Wednesday morning and will take an official visit to the school next week. He has plans to visit Western Michigan this weekend.
Drake, who finished as the North Suncoast’s second leading rusher of all-time with (5,103) career yards and (71) touchdowns, had an offer from Miami last summer (it was later rescinded) and turned down an offer to take an official visit to Minnesota. He also had been in communication with Oregon and Georgia at various points of the recruiting process. Drake said Wednesday in a text message he also has offers from Florida International, Florida Atlantic and Memphis.
“They can’t believe he’s available,” Lee said. “When Doc talks that highly of a kid that’s a good thing. He’s one of the top recruiters in the country.”
Story received his first offer in August from Florida International. Lee said there’s a lot of interest surrounding the 6-foot-4, 180-pound Story.
First it started with the decommitment of top rated linebacker from Westlake High School in Atlanta, Michael Taylor on Sunday. Then came the loss of head coach Lane Kiffin. This also resulted in the loss of defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and recruiting henchman Ed Ogeron. Now recruits are saying bye-bye to the Vols. Tennessee’s attempt to become relevant in the college football world has been put in a figure four leg lock.
Lane Kiffin leaving is obviously a big deal but the biggest loss for Tennessee is Kiffin’s dad Monte Kiffin. I have spoken to several defensive recruits and the majority have said that the major reason they are considering Tennessee is because of the chance to work under Monte Kiffin and get an “NFL education.” Now that opportunity is gone and so are the recruits, one by one.
Evidence of what I am saying can be found in the fact that over the last 24 hours, Tennesse has lost commitments from top recruits Brandon Willis, Calvin Smith, Delvin Jones and A.J. Johnson. All four of these players along with Taylor who decommitted on Sunday, play on the defensive side of the ball. With Monte Kiffin packing his bags for USC, the appeal of Tennessee to these recruits has dwindled in value like an Internet stock portfolio.
There’s still highly recruited defensive ends Jacques Smith and Corey Miller still committed to Knoxville for now but with others bolting, they may rethink their plans. Anymore jumps off of the Tennessee ship could lead to another disaster for the Vols and that’s a rush to hire leading to another hire that’s “not right” for them.
There are whispers of Mike Leach coming. That will certainly deter some defensive talent from Knoxville unless Leach were hired and saddled up with a high impact defensive coordinator. Oh I tell ya, this recruiting things is crazy. I almost can’t wait for the next piece of big news from some college campus. It’s like “As the World Turns” right now.
Brandon Willis DT (Byrnes H.S., S.C.), Calvin Smith DT (Hialeah H.S., FL), Delvin Jones DE (Palmetto H.S., FL) and A.J. Johnson OLB (Gainesville H.S., FL) have all decommitted from Tennessee following Lane Kiffin’s decision to become USC’s next head coach.
Westlake H.S. (Georgia) linebacker Michael Taylor has dropped Tennessee and has committed to the University of Florida. Taylor was the MVP for the White Team in the recent Under Armour All Star Game.
Miramar H.S. (Florida) quarterback Ryan Williams has dropped Eastern Michigan in favor of Memphis. Williams committed to Eastern Michigan less than 10 days ago.
8th Grade Running Back Turns Football Establishment on it’s Ear.
It’s 7:58 P.M. on a Monday in the Michel household. Sony Michel grabs the remote control for the living room television and changes the channel to Fox Sports. Someone remarks that the game (FedEx Orange Bowl) is not on yet but Sony could care less. The game will be on soon and he wants to be on the channel before it’s time. For Sony Michel, it’s been a lifetime of doing things before he’s supposed to.
Michel burst onto the scene in 2009 when he strapped American Heritage High School on his back and led them to the playoffs behind his 1,800 yards rushing and 20 TDs. Certainly, these are strong numbers but certainly nothing that has not been accomplished by other backs in the great state of Florida. However, when you consider that Michel was 14 years old and in the 8th grade, you are forced to realize that Michel is in uncharted waters.
Yes, I said it, Michel is in the 8th grade. American Heritage is a private school that services children from kindergarten through 12th grade. This fact allowed Michel to take the field as an 8th grader and take the State by storm.
Many have been amazed by what Sony Michel has accomplished but for those in the Michel household and in the surrounding Pembroke Park neighborhood he grew up in, there was never any doubt that Michel would excel on the varsity gridiron this year.
“I expected him to do well,” said Marken, one of Sony’s older brothers who is a highly talented wide receiver on American Heritage’s team. “He was not going to be your typical 8th grader.”
Doubts from outsiders has been a way of life for Sony also. However, the doubts about Sony have not been about what he can do. They have been about his true age. Not many 8th graders are 5’11 180 lbs. with 4.4 speed and 10.9 speed in the 100 meters. As Sony grew up playing football and running track, there was always controversy about his age. This would always come after Michel either ran a team into the ground on the gridiron or left them in the dust on the track. Official meetings by event organizers after Sony’s performances were the norm. Sony never let it bother him.
“I got used to people hatin,” said Sony. “It made me feel like I was real fast.”
Sony was born on February 17, 1995 in an Orlando, Florida hospital. A fact backed up by strong head nods from his father sitting on the couch. Sony’s father thinks it’s ridiculous that these doubts exist especially when he was there to see his son born 14 years ago.
Sony’s athletic career began on the baseball diamond. He and Marken played baseball for three seasons before the baseball program at their park folded. One day, a football coach from their neighborhood park spotted both Sony and Marken and encouraged the pair to play football. Coach Dennis Butler took the brothers onto his 80 lb. team and introduced them to the sport. With their good size but limited knowledge of the game, both brothers were placed on the offensive line their first season. They would never see the line again after that first year.
The following season, Marken, who’s 20 months older than Sony, moved up to a higher weight class and Sony stayed behind. One day while Coach Butler was away from practice, Sony destroyed the starting running back in a hitting drill. Butler’s assistant coach called him and told him that he thinks Sony had the talent to play running back.
“I was surprised at his determination to play running back,” Butler said. “He did not want to go back on the line.”
That determination would mark Sony’s rise to success as he never looked back from that point forward. Sony would eventually replace the starting running back who moved to another park’s football program. From then on, he would run through, around and over opposing defenses leading his team to many victories. Sony would team up with Marken again on the 115’s and the two were a formidable pair. As a member of the 165 lb. team at West Dade Optimist, the pair led their team to a win over Luther Campbell’s Liberty City team. Campbell’s team had not lost a game in five years.
A big part of Sony’s game on the gridiron is his speed. From an early age, Sony showed the ability to run.
“I think running the bases made me faster,” Sony explains.
By 11 years old, coach Butler started a track team to “give the kids something to do.” Sony was an instant success. He would go on to win every 100 meter event that he entered into that season and this led to biggest noise about his age.
“I had to bring my original birth certificate to one meet,” said Sony.
His dominance and size led to much skepticism but in the end, opponents were forced to deal with the fact that he was of legal age for his group.
“The same ones that said he was too old were the same ones that looked stupid when be brought his birth certificate,” Marken stated.
By the time 8th grade rolled around, Sony was ready for bigger and better challenges. He had dominated the youth leagues and even had a stint in a league known as the Diamond League. The league was started by a coach in the neighborhood who wanted to keep the kids out of trouble. What the Diamond League allowed Sony to do was compete against 17 year olds when he was 12. Sony did not take the Diamond League by storm as he had at South Florida Optimist but it did give him the opportunity to bang heads with older kids and have no fear of older competition.
When the 2009 season rolled around and Sony was brought to American Heritage, his eyes were on varsity eventhough others had their doubts. An assistant coach for the varsity team insisted that there was no way that an 8th grader could take a varsity football pounding. One afternoon in summer drills changed that thought.
American Heritage head coach Byron Walker observed Sony giving 11th and 12th graders all they could handle and declared that the kid would play varsity.
Sony’s varsity career as a running back did not start in spectacular fashion. He had a couple of good performances but then came game four of the season which Sony’s oldest brother Allan describes as “the turning point.”
Sony gutted a then undefeated North Broward Prep football team for 281 yards and three touchdowns including a kickoff return taken to the house. Sony went from the 8th grader who could survive playing varsity football to the 8th grader who could dominate varsity football. Sony’s 14 carries per game now went to 22 carries per game and coach Walker rode the workhorse all the way to the 2nd round of the Florida State playoffs.
At season’s end, Sony accumulated 1,825 yards rushing on 248 carries for an average of 7.36 yards per carry with 20 TDs. At this pace, he would end up with 9,125 yards for his career surpassing Emmit Smith’s state of Florida career rushing record. It’s a thought Sony has not spent a lot of time with.
“My goals are really year to year,” said Sony. “I started out this year just wanting to rush for 1,000 yards.”
It’s an example of Sony’s humility despite his never ending success.
“I believe in these two (Sony and Marken) more than they do,” older brother Allan said.
Sony’s highlight video on Gridironstuds.com has been met with both amazement and skepticism. The emails have come in asking about his true age and expressing doubt. Sony did repeat one grade growing up but even if he accomplished all that he did this year as a high school freshman, it would still be remarkable.
A lifetime of playing on teams that were low in numbers and playing against older competition prepared Sony for what many people felt was impossible.
“I always told him that he’s just going to have to get the ball and run because there isn’t much blocking,” Butler said.
It all led up to the amazing performance that Sony had in 2009 and to the amazing performances that he will continue to put up in front of people who aren’t ready to see it. Sony Michel is truly ahead of him time.
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM GRIDIRONSTUDS.COM
Glenville H.S. (Ohio) defensive back Latwan Anderson has committed to West Virginia at the Army All American game. Anderson chose WVU over Ohio St., Miami, North Carolina and Cincinnati.
Southeastern H.S. (Michigan) DT Jonathan Hankins has committed to Ohio St. Hankins was also being recruited by Wisconsin, Virginia, Michigan, Florida and Oklahoma.
Dwyer H.S. athlete Matt Elam, a highly sought after prospect, will announce his final decision on Saturday. Elam committed to Florida originally and then recently switched to Florida St. Now comes word that he will make his final announcement on Saturday. Elam is being recruited by Florida St., Florida, West Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Ohio St.
Southwest Dekalb H.S. (Georgia) cornerback Marques Dixon has committed to Tennessee. Dixon was also being recruited by Miami, Iowa, Central Michigan and USF.
Word is that Kadron Boone has renewed his interest in the University of Miami now that he has reopened his recruiting in the wake of the Mike Leach firing at Texas Tech.
In case you missed it, the Under Armour High School Football All Star Game was this past Saturday. Overall, I would have to say that it was a sloppy contest as there were a laundry list of errors in the game. I guess some of this is to be expected in an All Star game atmosphere but this particular contest had more than it’s fair share of blunders.
What stood out to me the most was the inability of the wide receivers to catch the football. Pass after pass was dropped. You had punts getting mishandled and fumbled. It looked as though this game was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Baby Oil. The other thing that stood out was the fact that virtually 85% of the snaps taken in the game were from the shotgun. Now I like the spread just as much as the next guy but did that many snaps need to be taken from the gun? It would have been nice to come away from the game knowing which one of these All Star quarterbacks has been schooled on taking a drop and reading a defense on their decent back in the pocket from under center.
There were many players that did some good things in the game and I won’t be able to mention them all but here’s a few that stood out to me. Dominque Easley, who committed to Florida during the game, looked like Dwight Freeney out there. Very quick, agile and a tough assignment for the tackles to block. WR Darius White from Texas who is also commited to Texas. He had a couple of nice punt returns and a TD catch. Jeff Luc had about five tackles in the game. He also buried Michigan QB Devin Gardner in beast like Jeff Luc fashion. Michael Taylor, linebacker from Westlake High School in Atlanta, Georgia. Ran around and made plays. He was very aggressive and seem to be prepared for the event. Phillip Sims may have looked the best of the QB’s. He has a live arm, as he displayed in the skills competition with a 67 yard throw. He also moves around well in the pocket and seems poised when pressured.
Demar Dorsey from Ft. Lauderdale Florida and heading to Gainesville is full of confidence and backed it up with his play. He had an interception and showed some sick strength for a “skinny” guy when he flipped Michael Dyer over his back like he was in WrestleMania. Jonathan Dowling, safety from Florida and a Gator commit, showed what he’s all about. The kid just has a nose for the ball and came away with a pair of interceptions in the contest one of which he returned for a TD. Dowling picked off 14 passes his junior year. Gardner, from Inkster High School and headed to Ann Arbor also looked solid at the quarterback position and appeared to be a leader. There were some others that did big things but those were the ones who stood out.
To put pictures to the words I wrote, Check out a brief highlight video of the 2010 Under Armour Game:
This one is waaaaaaay overdue. For the entire 2009 season much of the focus on the Treasure Coast H.S. (Port St. Lucie, FL) football team was on highly recruited prospect Jeff Luc. Rightfully so since Luc is an impressive, imposing physical force that was recruited by just about everyone in the country. However, anyone who attended Treasure Coast football games this year knows that no one made more plays than linebacker Ed Foley. If there was a play to be made, Foley was there. Whether it was a timely blitz, interception or blocked kick, Foley appeared on the scene like Superman saving Lois Lane. Foley’s senior film shows you just that. From sideline to sideline, Foley tracks them down and puts them on the turf. Where’s Foley on the next play? Just find the football and he will be there. Outstanding instincts make him a sure playmaker on any level. He’s not as highly recuited as Luc and that has everything to do with the measureables that college coaches seem to have fallen in love with. When you measure heart and big plays, Foley is off the charts. Click here to view Ed Foley’s highlight video.