Spring Preview: Dade County Defense

The state of Florida is very heavily recruited and the highest concentration of talent resides in Miami-Dade County. With over 50 prospects expected to sign D-1 scholarships, this one county produces more than some states do. Here is a look at some of the top talent on the defensive side of the ball.

PHOTO GALLERY

It is a great year to have the last name "Thomas" as four prospects in the 2013 class have that last name.......and each plays at a different high school (and one in 2014). It is incredibly deep at the Linebacker and Safety positions.

Defensive Line

Central's Rodrick Stephens has had to share time on a deep, loaded defensive line, he likely will see his most snaps in 2012 and we look for him to produce. Already big and capable of playing either way, he will carry even more weight down the road.

Jacobi Smith and Jamar Simpkins are a pair of players that are 6'3 260ish, each will get a long look as down linemen.


Herise was a player that stood out last year
Geoff Vogt, Scout.com

Champagnat Catholic is producing D-1 talent and Isaac McDonald has as much potential as anyone. Very long, he moves extremely well in space as a LB in high school. McDonald could project to a number of different spots down the road, we like him at DE. Lot of upside there as he fills out. McDonald made a verbal commitment to Clemson. Paul James just needs to stay healthy. He missed almost all of his junior season with an injury. When healthy he is a terror off the edge and he reminds us of defensive end's Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus. Both hailed from South Florida and had outstanding college careers.

Norland's Akeem Barton had a solid junior season and possesses the size and burst to recruited at DE. At 6'2+, 230+ he ran sub 5.0 at the Nike Combine.

Linebacker

Booker T's Matthew Thomas is as good as they come. He is a long 6'3 with a motor to match that length. Makes a ton of plays. Instincts seem to be very good. He will have all the offers, but should end up at either Miami or FSU.

Gulliver's Stacy Thomas does it on both sides of the ball and schools are actively recruiting him both ways. Can he play in space? He will need to show that he can at the LB position. DE/TE are other options for him.

Miami Central's Chris Herise is a similar player to Stacy above. He was a stand-out last year at Palmetto on the defensive line putting pressure on the backfield. He has looked very athletic this off-season and should transition back to linebacker at the next level.

One linebacker did stay at Palmetto and that is Wendell Dunn. He is going to need to add the weight but his length and athleticism will make him a hot commodity at some point. He is just over 200 pounds, but looks like he has a lot of room to fill out.

Hialeah's George Williams is a terrific athlete. He makes impact plays coming off the edge and shows the type of speed that Dade County is known for. He lacks ideal size at 6'0, but he is productive two-way player. Plays with a mean streak.

Monsignor Pace's Anthony Walker tore up the Nike Combine testing last month. At 6'1, 207 he ran a 4.48 and had a 35 inch vertical. He flashed that type of potential on the field as a junior, but needs to become more consistent. Walker could play Safety or linebacker.

Norland has two linebackers on the radar: William Townsend and Treyvon Williams.

Defensive Backs

Booker T's Michael Johnson was the best play-maker in Dade County among the DBs. He has a knack for being around the football and then finishes the play. Could play corner, but safety seems to be his more natural position. He lacks ideal size at 5'11, 180. Johnson is committed to Florida State.

Northwestern's Artie Burns might have the most upside up all the DBs due to his track background. The former Alabama commit can flat run and has great length at 6'1. He is still very raw as a player and there is genuine debate on whether safety or corner is his future.


Hines might be Belen's top prospect of the last five years
Geoff Vogt, Scout.com

If Burns does not have the most upside than Southridge's Jamal Carter probably does. He has it in terms of the physical tools to be special. Shines brightest with the ball in his hands on offense. Carter has good size and the frame to add considerable weight, the only issue is that he has been injured a bunch the past two years.

Champagnat's Charles Williams is a versatile athlete that projects to safety, but could be a factor a number of different places. At 6'2 he runs 4.5 and has excellent hips. Has shown that he can play just about anywhere on the field. Williams just needs to get bigger and stronger. Most teams are recruiting him at Safety.

Miami Central's Ahmad Thomas and Northwestern's Nathaniel Taylor are players that come with the type of size that colleges like and the athletic ability that they covet. Both will be well over 200 pounds down the road and can flat run. We would look for both players to be more productive as seniors.

Carol City's Simeon Thomas has great length at 6'3 and this school has developed Kenny Phillips and Robert Sands over the past 10 years. He is on the skinny side today, but he brings a lot of versatility to the defensive backfield. Look for his recruitment to take off this Spring. Southridge's Lamar Robbins is very similar to Simeon, he is very long at 6'2 and is another player that will make an impact on both sides of the ball. He had a great tournament at the IMG 7on7.

Columbus's Jesus Wilson is very fast. A wide receiver on offense, his ceiling might be a cornerback. Several schools are recruiting him that way. Could he be the next Xavier Rhodes from Dade (player most thought offense, but is a stand-out on defense)?

North Miami's Troy McCollum has elite size at corner. All of 6'0, he is a terrific athlete. He holds BCS offers already and should see interest continue to clime. He is expected to play more offense this year as well.

Belen's Xavier Hines has a thick build and terrific ball skills. Great ball skills. He has seen a lot more interest the past month after having a good camp/combine season.

Leroy Clark, Marlon Parnell, and Logan Oce are also on the D-1 radar.

5 Defensive Prospects for 2014

DT Ted Celestin, Carol City: Big body, great motor, tough. Needs to grow about an inch.

DE Chad Thomas, Booker T Washington: Has good size already and moves very well. Productive.

LB RoyJean Joseph, Edison: One of the potential rising stars in Dade County.

CB Treon Harris, Booker T Washington: Brother, Brandon, plays in the NFL. Father the head coach. Exceptional on both sides of the football.

CB Deatrick Nichols, Miami Central: Started as a freshmen on team that had 19 SENIOR starters sign with D-1 schools. Very talented.

2015 Superstar

Jaquan Johnson, Miami Killian: We were game film on a player on the opposite team and this freshmen jumped off the screen. He had a TD catch, TD run, and 3-4 big-time plays at DB in that game. Has shined in the off-season as well.


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