Our pre-spring look this week is at one of the state's best football programs. The Blue Devils are in the process of re-loading their machine for a third run at the state title, and with the announcement that the 2005 state football championships would be in Miami, this program gets to do it close to home!
"This is really becoming a program that just plugs in players," said Larry Blustein of www.floridakids.us. "They are so talented and have such impressive coaching, there is really no end in site for this current run."
This past December, Pahokee went up to Gainesville again, and were victorious, proving they were one of the top teams in the State of Florida.
One of the main reasons why most felt Pahokee won was because of Antone Smith, the 2B Player of the Year. As important as Smith was to the past two championship teams, there is no denying that Pahokee was loaded with some impressive athletes.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Coach Leroy Foster, who I regard as one of the best in the profession. Foster is smart, knows his football and is quite amusing to talk with.
As Foster and I chatted on this February afternoon, the talk was about one thing, and that is winning another state championship.
"Winning the past two years was great but this is a new year and our goal is the same," coach Foster said witgh a smile. "What makes this year even more important is we have the chance to play in South Florida, where more of our fans will get the chance to come and watch."
One of the first players from this year's team we spoke with was cornerback Ricky Gary. He is a 5-foot-9, 180 pounder with sub 4.5 speed in the forty yard dash. He was chosen by www.floridakids.us as one of the top players in the state, in the exclusive Top 275 list that Larry Blustein comes out with each year at this time.
Not only is Gary one of the top cornerbacks in South Florida this year, he wants to show that he is the best in the state as well.
"Yeah I am a lockdown corner," he said. "I want to go up against the best receivers each week and show them what I've got."
What Gary showed everyone last year was 50+ tackles, 2 interceptions along with 3 forced fumbles, 1 touchdown on offense, 16 punt returns for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was a play making machine for Pahokee.
So what is Gary's top five at this time?
"I like FSU, Florida, Miami, Tennessee and Michigan," he said.
Coach Foster commented on his junior cornerback and here is what he had to say: "He is aggressive and does not back down from no one, Ricky is willing to take on all comers."
Gary will camp at Rutgers, FSU, Florida, MSL and Nike camps this year.
One of the other stars on the defensive side of the football is Un'Tavious Scott. What Scott brings to the table is a versatile prospect that can make an impact on both sides of the football. Last year he played defensive end and tight end for Pahokee.
At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, Scott will most likely play linebacker in college. Last season, he had 28 tackles, 4 forced fumbles and 10 quarterback sacks. When we spoke with Scott we asked what is the number one thing he needs to work on this off season to get better, he was up front.
"I need to improve my speed, if I can continue to improve my speed I can be unstoppable, he said."
Scott has six teams that top his list and that are Kentucky, Minnesota, Utah, Maryland, Michigan and Iowa at this time. "Those are the schools that I like the most. I can't wait to visit Kentucky and Maryland this year," Scott said.BR>
Another prospect that made an impact last year on defense for Pahokee was Anthony Atwell. He is a 5-foot-8, 180 pound spark plug at defensive tackle. He is making a move to fullback this spring. The one thing on Atwell's mind was revenge.
"I want to beat Glades Central, we lost last year and that left a bad taste in my mouth. I can't wait till we play them again," Atwell said.
Atwell's top five at this time are Georgia, UCF, Colorado, Minnesota and Boston College. He will also visit Rutgers this summer when he attends their camp.
With the loss of Smith at running back one player that hopes to see more passes thrown his way this year is Wide receiver Nakita White. He had over 180 yards last year receiving and 2 touchdowns. On defense White had 30 tackles and 3 interceptions at cornerback. So what stands out to Coach Foster with White?
"He covers a lot of ground in a hurry, if the opposing offense tries to throw a jump ball he will out jump the opposition," Foster pointed out.
His top five is Maryland, FSU, Duke, Florida and Iowa. He will also attend Rutgers camp this summer along with the Nike Camp in April.
Four other players will have an impact on this team next year. Linebacker/defensive end Rudy Robinson is one of those. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder is a tackling machine. Robinson played defensive tackle as a junior but is moving to end this year.
He had 64 tackles, 15 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries and 1 defensive touchdown. Louisville, UCF, Rutgers, South Florida, Tennessee and Michigan are the schools he has most interest at this time.
Vincent Cheves is another prospect to keep and eye on. With over 100 tackles last year, 3 interceptions and 1 touchdown Cleaves is just another impressive prospect on Pahokee's team. The linebacker is looking at Iowa, UM, Georgia, FSU and Maryland at this time.
Lineman Marcus Harwood (6-3, 320) and Quarterback/safety Robert Love make up the rest of the group. Love had 1,900 yards passing, 24 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. FSU, Miami, Michigan and Clemson lead the pack at this time.
Some promising underclassmen to check out on Pahokee team are juniors DE/OL Jacoby Love, linebacker Casey Hopson and Charles Barber. Sophomores to keep an eye on are receiver Martavious Odoms who could be a top prospect in 2008, safety Janoris Jenkins and defensive and offensive lineman Micanor Regis.
As I have said before, it's easy to get film in the mail and proclaim a player a prospect, but actually taking a drive to a school and sitting down with players and coaches is what makes this part of the job special for me.
Mike & The Big Dog's LLC