On our recent trip to Orlando to the Under Armour Football Game and Underclass Elite Combine, there were a number of players and fans from every part of the country.
Prospects that were indeed elite in every way.
While picking an all-star team is subjective at best, Under Armour and the long-standing Army All-American game always has the marquee kids – some who go on and make an impact at the collegiate level – while others never seem to live up to the hype.
As we talked to athletes and their coaches and families who escaped the northern reaches of this country to come down to sunny Florida for a week, they were all eager to show that their quarterback, lineman, defensive end or linebacker was as good as any in the country.
But when the conversation pointed to the NFL, it truly got interesting.
Fans who came from Oakland were impressed that Amari Cooper was a star in South Florida – while right up the road in Belle Glade (Clive Walford) and Fort Pierce (Khalil Mack).
The impact was the same when parents of a Pittsburgh area athlete found out that the best receiver in the NFL, Antonio Brown, grew up in that hotbed as well.
Football prospects who do not go to events just to show up, but rather end up dominating and becoming that household name. That’s what the process is all about.
Ask Sly Johnson about talent level and the process. Here is someone who ran a 4.2 combine 40 when he came out of Miami University in Ohio. He has taught football players to be better players for well over a decade.
As the Class of 2017 is winding down – with some early enrollees already off to college – and others still looking for that elusive scholarship – we skip ahead and look at those rising juniors in the Class of 2019.
These talented young men now get to step up and become leaders with two years of varsity experience behind most of them.
Today, as we do every week during the year, there are six prospects that break down. All of them are in the Class of 2019 from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties:
2019 – Samuel Brooks, DE, 6-2, 190, Miami Northwestern: When we first watched him play at the start of the season, it was simply a no-brainer. Stay healthy and you become one of the elite players nationally. Brooks has already proven that he can play at this level – with a long way to go before he completely fills out and matures and just dominates on every play. This is a potential national star who has the athletic ability to chase you all over the field, but the finesse to beat you off the ball and get into your backfield. Bulls defensive-oriented head coach Max Edwards has a good one on his hands.
2019 – Ge’mon Eaford, DE/OLB, 6-2, 215, Deerfield Beach: Yet another emerging standout on a team that is simply tapping into a very talented pipeline that many believe is one of the most fertile anywhere in the country. Eaford is a big-time athlete who can do it all – and he is only getting better. He took another step this year in becoming one of the leaders on head coach Jevon Glenn’s defensive unit. This is going to be one of the most talented juniors this coming season – and the best is truly yet to come.
2019 – Brieon Fuller, WR, 6-1, 175, Doral Academy: Before he ever arrived at the high school level, this is the player everyone talked about, predicting some lofty things. Fuller has one of the highest athletic ceilings of any young prospect in South Florida – with speed, athleticism and football savvy. This will be a receiver that will continue to jump into the spotlight. He had a solid first year with head coach Jase Stewart and the Firebirds.
2019 – Lance Hollis, OG/DL, 5-11, 215, Davie Nova: Two years ago when Generation Nexxt had its parade of young future stars, they paraded a number of quality prospects out that evening. James Cook, Nayquan Wright, Daniel Richardson and several other big-time Class of 2019 players. Among those future stars was this big man. He was a solid football prospect as an eighth grader, and after two years at the varsity level, he continues to learn, get stronger and help the Titans turn the corner back to the level that had them sitting atop their district just two years ago. From either side of the ball, Hollis is truly a big time prospect who will only get better and better.
2019 – Braylen Ingraham, DL, 6-4, 230, Fort Lauderdale Dillard: From the start of the 2016 season, all eyes were on the Panthers defensive front – with Jon Ford, Jordan Wright and Stephon Zayas – and for good reason. But one of the future stars for the Panthers also started to get some well-deserved recognition, giving coaches and teammates a chance to see a player who will only get better with maturity and experience. Ingraham is a very athletic football player.
2019 – Kalani Norris, WR/CB, 6-0, 170, Miami Westminster Christian: One of the most exciting young prospects around who certainly made the most of his time at the high school level. Norris is one of the emerging athletes who can make a huge difference in the way your team performs – since he can do it all. He’s a quality receiver with solid hands and quickness. Norris is also an improving defensive back who is not afraid to stick his head into the action. He’ll be fun to watch his growth over the next two years.