Who's Who in the Sunshine State

The State of Rutgers typically consists of the Garden State and adjacent areas of Rutgers' campus (i.e. the Keystone State, the Empire State, the First State and the Constitution State), but also extends southward to the Sunshine State of Florida. In the past, the South Florida region has been a big RU ally. Some of the stellar FL players that have called RU home have included ...

... Ryan Hart, Shawn Tucker, Eric Foster and Tim Brown.

The latest recruiting class (that of 2009) saw only one player from South Florida, namely Antwan Lowery, ink with the Scarlet Knights. This was in large part due to a superb crop of talent in the Garden State and Northeast. In 2010 (i.e., the current recruiting class, for which Rutgers already has a verbal commitment) the region from Palm Beach to Dade County - in Florida - is absolutely loaded with talent, and the northern extent of the State of Rutgers is expected to hit a bit of a dry spell. In addition, Rutgers has expanded its recruiting reach within the state of Florida itself, heading north bound in 2008 to secure top prospects such as Polk County's DC Jefferson and Brevard County's David Rowe.

With that said, we project Rutgers to bring in anywhere from three to as many as eight prospects from Florida in this next recruiting class.

In the following summary, we will cover some of the top names in the South Florida region to familiarize readers with the top athletes Rutgers is expected to contend for. Included in this summary will be some talent seen first-hand at the recent Under-Armour combine in Davie, Florida.

QB: The top signal caller appears to be Brandon Doughty from North Broward Prep in the Fort Lauderdale region. The lanky 6'2" prospect is a gun-slinger on the field that reminds many of your typical Big-12 quarterback that peppers the ball across the field. Geoffrey Godfrey from Miami Central is a bit undersized, but has great escapability in the pocket and a major league arm. The comparisons that we keep on hearing is to that of NC State's Russell Wilson, who was the most dynamic QB Rutgers fans have seen since Michael Vick.

However, with some players fitting the needs of RU in the Northeast, it is uncertain whether Rutgers will take a hard look at either of these young men. Players like Brandon Hill and Joe Brennan have garnered early offers from Rutgers and may be the ones the program has their sights on.

RB: The RB position is where Rutgers has to land a top level back. There is some elite level talent in the state of Florida, with many of the RBs in the region having their own special skill set. In addition, with Miami loading up on talent in the past class and still possibly landing the nation's top RB Bryce Brown next month, the attractiveness of fighting for playing time at UM may be dampened. According to reports, Florida State appears to be looking for a bigger back, and may have their sights set elsewhere early on. Therefore, there is a special window of opportunity for Rutgers to come in and nab a special player.

The two best RBs to fit the Scarlet Knights' needs appear to be Gio Bernard and Eduardo Clements. Both players are elite level RBs. Gio Bernard (5'8" 190-pounds) plays at powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas which won the National Championship last year in the high school ranks. Bernard reminds me so much of Ray Rice. He is short, but very strong. He runs with great power and burst. His lateral movement is exceptional. His upper body strength is also top notch as he utilizes the stiff arm very well in the open field. Bernard is a workhorse back that can carry the ball 25 times a game.

Eduardo Clements (5'10" 190-pounds) from Booker T. Washington, is a bit more of a slasher. He plays very quick and runs smooth. He has a very fluid running style and again, appears smooth not only in his overall style, but also coming in and out of his breaks. One of his biggest strengths is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He gives that added dimension to his game that allows for him to create different types of mismatches.

Devon Wright (6'0" 190-pounds) from Taravella HS in Coral Springs is a stud of a big back. He combines size, power, with top speed. Devon Wright ran through Broward County for 1,622 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2008. He is a player that opposing teams loaded up the box for and despite that was still able to get top results. He could be South Florida's biggest steal and diamond in the rough.

Dade County has two other 'backs which have the talent to play anywhere in the country. Brandon Gainer (6'0" 190-pounds) from Miami Central is another big, workhorse type back. Brandon runs very well and is a load in the open field. He can accelerate off his cuts which is a special skill for a back his size. He was credited with First Team All County honors by the Miami Herald. He ran for 1,644 yards on 185 carries (8.9 ypc) with 17 touchdowns. Jakhari Gore (5'9" 170-pounds) from Columbus HS in Miami was a teammate last year of Antwan Lowery. Gore is a very shifty back with that extra gear in the open field. He reminds me of former Texas RB Eric Metcalf from years past. The cousin of current NFL star Frank Gore, he will be extremely successful as a RB, slot receiver or in the kicking game in college. Last year, Gore was named 2nd Team All-State at the 6A level garnered and First Team All County honors by the Miami Herald. He ran for 1,156 yards on 148 carries (7.8 ypc) and had 15 touchdowns.

DeAndre Johnson from Miami Pace reminds me a bit of D'Antwan Williams. Johnson measures in at 5'7" and 200-pounds and runs in the 4.5 range. Johnson is very powerfully built, and has a great combination of explosiveness, shiftyness, and quickness. Corvin Lamb (5'8.5" 190-pounds), by way of Miami Northwestern HS, has been known as having track speed. He runs in the 4.4 range and can also play in the slot.

WR: Rutgers has to get some of that South Florida speed at the WR position. Rutgers has been successful in the past with players such as Shawn Tucker, Willy Foster, Tim Brown, and Dennis Campbell. And with the program appearing to be loaded with big, physical receivers on the roster, the Scarlet Knights could use 1 or 2 Florida speed players to help create mismatches and additional opportunities in the open field.

Dade County is stacked with WRs this year - every where you turn you see BCS level players. Joshua Reese from Miami Central is a 6'0" 180-pound WR that reports state has become one of the top prospects at this position, in the entire state. Reese is expected to make a surge up the rankings when spring ball comes around. He had an outstanding performance at a recent event down in South Florida and is starting to separate himself as a top tier talent. Michael Lee Harris from Miami Northwestern stands at 6'2" 180-pounds. He is a real nice and pleasant kid who many consider a clone of Aldarius Johnson. He is a polished route runner with strong hands and solid athleticism. He is considered one of the top players in Dade County. Allan Hurns from Carol City HS is a tall, thick WR also in the 6'2" 180-pound range that is an overall strong looking athlete. He combines a good set of hands with leaping ability. Quinton Dunbar from Booker T. Washington measures in around 6'3" 170-pounds. Dunbar is a tall lanky WR with great length and range. He is a long kid that covers a lot of ground when running his routes. Dunbar was First Team All County by the Miami Herald. He hauled in 39 passes for 703 yards with seven touchdowns.

One prospect to keep in mind is Ted Meline (6'3" 170-pounds) transferred to Booker T. Washington and will be one of the most coveted WR prospects in the area. He already has offers from major SEC programs.

Broward County has two stud WRs that jump out at you. Ivan McCartney from Miramar, Florida is my favorite WR in South Florida. He has a great combination of size, in terms of height, to go along with his long arms and legs. He has deceptive speed and the thing that stands out about McCartney is his ability to create separation between himself and his defender. He has solid hands and is an excellent route runner. He is an elite player and former teammate of Justin Francis. Shawn Corker from Cardinal Gibbons is a 6'2" 190-pound thoroughbred. He runs in the 4.6 range and has a really striking combination of body type and running ability. He is an impressive looking receiver. He was named First Team All County by the Sun-Sentinel. He hauled in 44 catches for 912 yards (20.7 ypc) and 13 touchdowns.

DeJoshua Johnson, from Pahokee (Palm Beach County) I would describe as a taller Tim Brown. DeJoshua is electric with the ball in his hands. There is no other way to describe him. He has elite stop and start ability. He has that typical Muck player swagger. Very confident player on the field and an infectious personality. However, DeJoshua is rail thin. He is going to need to fill out a bit before he makes noise on the collegiate level. His teammate at Pahokee, Dennis Hall will also be one prospect to keep an eye on.

OL: With the Northeast having a some top end talent in the trenches, Rutgers has already handed out scholarships to players such as Danny Foose, Chris Conti, Jake Kaufman, and Seth Betancourt. In addition, RU has already received an early commitment from top interior player Betim Bujari (Secaucus HS). Look for Rutgers to be selective if it finds a kid that fits its' profile.

In Broward County, Brandon Linder from St. Thomas Acquinas has already received a Rutgers offer. A problem with Linder is that he will be offered by most everyone in the nation as he's widely considered one of the best OTs in the nation. David Delsoin from Sheridan Hills is a kid that is absolutely a great fit for what Rutgers wants to do. This kid is going to be a big time player in college. He stands at 6'6" 265 pounds right now and looks very lean. He runs exceptionally well for his size. Has great body symmetry and a great base to build on. He shows good flexibility and knee bend. Also, he's very well spoken and a pleasure to be around. Delsoin has no offers at this point, but he's a prospect that could really blow up and be a great fit in Piscataway.

In Dade County, Torrain Wilson from Miami Northwestern has the look of the next top Dade offensive lineman. Booker T. Washington OL Jose Jose is small (6-foot-2) and stout, but he moves very well for a man of his weight (330-pounds). He plays with good leverage. If he can learn the center position, he could become a solid collegiate player. Miami Pace OL Jonathan Ragoo is all of 6'7" and over 300 lbs. He will need some work refining his game but has some intriguing upside.

In Palm Beach, OL Antonio Ford has nice height and a solid frame at 6'4" 250-pounds. He has broad shoulders and could definitely add on the quality weight to become an upper echelon OL. He has shown very good athleticism on film.

Special thanks is given to content provided from Elite Scouting Services' Charles Fishbein, and Scout.com's Geoff Vogt.

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