Brett Goetz has always been good at putting things together. He once put together picnics for underprivileged kids. He brought back an optimist football program in South Beach, Florida. He even arranged for trophies to be handed out to kids with perfect attendance in elementary schools in Miami Beach. However, nothing he has put together has brought him more attention than the amassing of high school football talent he has harnessed over the last four years.
Once a small gathering of local football talent to go compete in a 7-on-7 tournament, the South Florida Express tryout has turned into a grand thoroughfare.
“When we started four years ago we invited 30 kids to tryout and 35 kids showed up,” said Goetz. “Now we get 200 kids to tryout.”
Kind of reminds you of the progression of Rocky Balboa drinking raw eggs in a tiny apartment in Rocky I to Rocky Balboa the sports car driving mansion owner in Rocky IV. This year’s South Florida Express tryouts drew as Goetz said, roughly 200 of the most talented football players in South Florida and probably the country. It also attracted approximately 40 reporters from a wide range of recruiting publications looking to get the jump on next year’s hot recruiting prospects
“I started this to get the kids some attention, never thought it would get this much,” Goetz explained.
Last year’s version of the South Florida Express brought home the Badger Sports national 7-on-7 tournament championship. This only meant that more eyes would be on the gathering of talent this year and boy has it ever. Talent has never been an issue for Goetz’s teams, in fact, after falling short the two previous tournaments, the Express was starting to feel some heat for failing to win it all. Goetz’s teams theoretically were the most talent rich in all of the tournaments but could never seem to win it all.
Taking a look at the list of players who have come through the roster, you can see where people were coming from: Jamal Berry (Ohio St.), Etien Sabino (Ohio St.). Geno Smith (West Virginia), Ivan McCartney (West Virginia), Steadman Bailey (West Virginia), Jeremy Cash (Ohio St.), Ethan Grant (TCU), Jakhari Gore (LSU), Eduardo Clements (Miami), Tony Grimes (Ole Miss) just to name a few.
Last year, Goetz’s South Florida Express team was the runner up in the regional tournament in Tampa and gained a berth to the national tournament in Alabama. As a treat for the players, Goetz, once again put something good together and took his players on a college tour. On their way to Alabama, Goetz and South Florida Express made stops at Florida St., LSU, Ole Miss, Alabama and Florida. It was an opportunity for players, most of which could not afford to take unofficial visits, to see several of the schools that were recruiting them. This year, Goetz has preliminary plans to take the Express to Georgia Tech, Georgia, South Carolina, Clemson and Alabama.
The attention that has been received as a result of all this talent coming together has not all been positive. Goetz has been called a “street agent” and a shill for certain colleges among other things.
“I guess it’s hard to believe that someone can do this for the kids as opposed to everyone else that’s trying to make money on these kids,” said Goetz. “I’ve been working with kids and giving back for a long time.”
One of the biggest attacks on Goetz has been that he is on Ohio St.’s payroll and is somehow getting compensated by the Buckeyes to steer his athletes their way. Goetz believes that was likely started by a fan of a school that missed on one of his players. It was spearheaded by three of his early participants, Etiien Sabino, Travis Howard and Jaamal Berry attending Ohio St.
“What people don’t know is that their (Sabino and Howard) assistant coach at Krop was Sonny Spielman (father of Chris Spielman) and a huge Buckeye fan,” explained Goetz. “He was the one who told Sabino to go to their summer camp after his sophomore year and he fell in love with it.” Goetz would further explain that Howard wanted to play with Sabino so he checked out Ohio St. and loved it too. A year later, Berry became a Ohio St. signee and Goetz got painted as a shill for the Buckeyes.
“I grew up a Cane fan and went to every game as a kid,” said Goetz. “Then I became a Gator fan when I went to school there.” Goetz points out that five of last year’s South Florida Express players signed with Louisville earlier this month so he’s expecting the Cardinal payroll rumors to get cranked up any minute now.
Goetz never played the game of football but if you’ve seen him at the tryouts or any of the South Florida Express practices, he’s got everything under control. Goetz’s mastery of bringing things together has included garnering help from some of the best local football minds at the high school level. While they are cooking up the X’s and O’s, Goetz is making sure that everyone has what they need; from the kids, to the coaches to the reporters that are trying to get the info they require on the prospects.
When you get 200 plus players to show up for your tryout, it’s almost impossible not to put together one helluva talented team and that is certainly the case with this year’s edition of the Express.
“I still need more time around these guys to see if there’s chemistry like last year but we are deeper this year as far as talent,” said Goetz. Few would argue. Anyone familiar with the South Florida high school football scene realizes that the roster is a who’s who of playmakers in the southern tip of perhaps the most talent rich region of the country. One of the roster members, Deon Bush, has pulled down 20 offers since the tryouts two weeks ago. Another, Tracey Howard, has been invited to the Army All-American game.
It will be another crazy ride for Goetz and his South Florida Express team but it’s all in an offseason’s work for the mastermind Goetz and his crew.
|South Florida Express 2011 Roster|
|EJ Hillard||Miami Northwestern||2012||QB|
|Duke Johnson||Miami Norland||2012||RB|
|Sony Michel||American Heritage||2014||RB|
|Amari Cooper||Miami Northwestern||2012||WR|
|Daniel Braverman||University School||2012||WR|
|Ricardo Louis||Miami Beach||2012||WR|
|Macgarrett Kings||University School||2012||WR|
|Brandon Snell||Miami Norland||2012||WR|
|Akeem Jones||Miami Carol City||2013||ATH|
|Isaac McDonald||Champagnat Catholic||2013||ATH|
|Deandre Jasper||Miami Jackson||2012||WR|
|Jeremiah McKinnon||Miami Southridge||2012||CB|
|NeQuan Phillips||Miami Southridge||2012||CB|
|AJ Leggett||Gulliver Prep||2012||DB|
|Joseph McClary||St. Thomas||2012||DB|
|Keith Brown||Miami Norland||2012||LB|
|Freddie Davey||Miami Norland||2012||LB|
|Eric Kinsey||Miami Northwestern||2012||LB|
|David Reed||Miami Beach||2012||S|
|Hugs Etieene||South Plantation||2012||DB|