For so many years, the last place any major college searched for big time talent on the offensive/defensive line was in the state of Florida. Then, seven years ago, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami started to produce linemen who were more than athletes.
What happened was those quick, strong linemen who found their way onto college campuses across the country, suddenly began to pickup technique and were coached as well as any. That combination proved to be a bonus for a state that was already noticed, nationwide, for showcasing some impressive athletes.
While the entire state has been in the spotlight for a few years now, churning out quality linemen, South Florida has slowly joined the rest of the pack, and now, as we look at the Class of 2006, they are ready to roll out perhaps one of the most talented groups ever.
"I have done this for 34 years now," said www.floridakids.us Publisher Larry Blustein. "I have watched players like Leon Searcy come out of here and make a solid mark at the next level and beyond. To me, this year is one of the best we've ever had. and when you think about the tremendous crop in South Florida, it is amazing at what we will produce over the next 11 months."
In the first part of this ongoing series, we will look at some top-flight talent:
FORT LAUDERDALE ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: The Raiders have three of the top 50 prospects in Florida on their offensive line this year.
Sam Young who is a 6-foot-7, 285-pound left tackle, will most likely be ranked as one of the top prospects in the state of Florida, when all is said and done. He is not as polished as his two teammates at this time, but his upside is as good as any prospect that will be recruited this year.
"I have watched Sam's progress since he came to St. Thomas two years ago as a tight end prospect at Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest," said Blustein. "He has great feet, is very smart and has worked on his strength to get bigger. I have long said that he will be at this position for the next 17 years."
The other two lineman from St. Thomas needs to be mentioned as well. Marcus Gilbert, who will most likely play guard in college, lines up at both right tackle and left guard for the Raiders' offense. Gilbert measures in at 6-foot-5, 285 pounds. He is the most athletic lineman of the three St. Thomas stars. The former defensive tackle made the move to offensive line.
The third star on the offensive line is Daniel Wegner (6-3, 290), who plays center for the Raiders. Of all three prospects Wegner is the most ready to play college football at this time.
"Wenger is what we like to call a 'Beast'," said Blustein. "This is someone who I see as another Jeff Faine (Sanford Seminole, Notre Dame, Cleveland Browns) type of player. Someone who could have a 10-year career in the National Football League."
Recently, I had the pleasure to speak with Davie Western head coach Doug Dutton, who will be one of the instructors for the March 19-20 Perfect Competition/www.floridakids Combine Camp in Davie about his emerging star defensive tackles Jared Martin. Dutton, a former college standout, who also spent some time with the Arizona Cardinals, spoke out on the St. Thomas trio, which he played against last year.
"As good as Young and Gilbert are at this time Wegner may be the best of three, he is ready to play college ball now," coach Dutton said.
Even Martin chimed in about Wegner: "He is the best lineman I faced all season long," he said. "He is big, physical and tough to beat. I was very impressed with Wegner when we faced each other."
FORT LAUDERDALE STRANAHAN: Even though the trio from St. Thomas will get most of the recognition this year Stranahan, and for good reason, offensive tackle Jacques Kindley is a name to remember.
Kindley is a 6-foot-6, 300 pound tackle for the Dragons offensive line. I had the chance to sit down with Kindley and he mentioned what his team and individual goals were for this season.
"As a team I want us to play harder this year," he said. "We need to play more as a team this year."
As for Kindley's individual goals?
"I want to continue to get better," he said. |"If I can do that, then our team will benefit as well."
Stranahan's first year coach Rod Taplin said some very complimentary things about his star tackle. Taplin has been around for a number of years and has watched some impressive football talent.
"He has great size, moves well laterally and gets good leverage against defensive ends," Taplin observed. "I also feel with him being one of the seniors on the team, his leadership role will be needed this year."
BROWARD CHRISTIAN: The final school we will look at in part one of this exclusive on lineman is Charles Deas.
When it comes to defensive tackles, the former Fort Lauderdale Dillard standout will probably be rated at the top at his position in Florida next year. What makes Deas such a great prospect is how well he moves for someone his size.
At 6-foot-5, 320 pounds Deas is a almost unblockable on the defensive side of the football. At a recent pre Nike camp, Deas ran a sub 5.0 flat forty time which is almost unheard of for someone his size. He has a rare blend of size, speed, quickness and strength that make Deas one of the premier players in the nation at his position.
"I watched Charles pickoff a ball at the line of scrimmage last year and run 35 yards with it," said Blustein. "Right now, he is at Broward Christian, but many say that he will end up playing for the Cobras at Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson."
Deas is yet another player who will be attending the Perfect Competition/www.floridakids Combine Camp in Davie on March 19-20.
PART TWO: In this exclusive of www.floridakids.us, we will talk about Miami Central defensive ends Bryant Miller and Sheldon Jacques, Miami Monsignor Pace offensive tackle Javon Hill, Miami Gulliver Prep offensive lineman Evan Bellamy, Deerfield Beach defensive tackle Mike Blanc and offensive lineman Damien Senior.
Charles Fishbien of www.floridakids.us continues to watch athletes live, talks to coaches and other players who assess the opposing talent.
Mike & The Big Dog's LLC
SOUTH FLORIDA LINEMEN: Part I
Scarlet Report Top Stories
Search Continues for Better Run DefenseAgainst Minnesota’s power-run offense, Rutgers failed to get a stop it needed late in the fourth quarter. Defensive coordinator Jay Niemann assessed the defense’s performance after…
Scarlet ReportYesterday at 3:13 PM
Rescigno Ignites Offense In Gutty StartRutgers coach Chris Ash and offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer credited the efforts of Giovanni Rescigno in his first-career start, as the offense saw improvements in all facets.
Scarlet ReportYesterday at 9:10 AM
Rutgers Spark Flames Out in Final SecondsRutgers falls to 2-6 when a spirited first-career start for Giovanni Rescigno fell short in the final minutes at Minnesota.
Scarlet ReportSaturday at 12:31 PM
10 in 10: Rutgers Falls at MinnesotaA contest that ends in heartbreak for Rutgers, Scarlet Report breaks down the little things in a road thriller for the Scarlet Knights. Giovanni Rescigno's debut, potential…
Scarlet ReportSaturday at 12:31 PM