Each week, there are so many surprised football fans who shake their collective heads at how big-time teams are losing.
Welcome to South Florida.
Where any team can be defeated on any given day. Where impressive football prospects are on every roster – throughout Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.
Once again, the elite teams – such as Booker T. Washington, Miami Central, St. Thomas Aquinas and even Plantation American Heritage have shown that there are enough athletes roaming sidelines from Florida City to Deerfield Beach to make any game interesting.
The talent level that we see in the offseason, at camps, combines and competing on the 7-on-7 circuit, are the football players who are pulling off big wins against teams that many have looked up to for nearly a decade.
South Florida football is such a fertile region for athletes – you are often surprised by juniors and seniors who have flown under the radar for too long, only to be discovered when many least expect it.
Each and every week, throughout the year, we give you six new prospects to keep an eye on – some 400 each year. Today, we have six more players who have really made some major strides.
2018 – Craig Cooper, RB, 5-9, 170, Hollywood McArthur: Make no mistake that this is going to be someone who everyone will know by the end of the season. Cooper is easily one of the top backs in the area. He gave everyone a glimpse of that talent a year ago – while he was a sophomore on a very talented American High team. This is a running back who will do what it takes. He quick, powerful and very strong. He loves to block as well as catch the ball out of the backfield. Cooper is a total package prospect who will always be a difference maker – no matter where he ends up. Impressive football player.
2018 – Ivan Ramirez, Slot/FS, 6-0, 155, Miami Ferguson: Another of the southwest Miami-Dade prospects who get lost in the numerous talent shuffle this county has. Here is a football player who really has impressed with his aggressive style of play, and his ability to make plays. Whether it’s at the slot position on offense, where he creates for the Falcons – or defensively, a place where some college coaches believe he can flourish, Ramirez is a true talent that will be discovered over the next year. He is fun to watch.
2018 – Wayne Ruby, Jr., WR, 5-10, 155, Pembroke Pines Flanagan: When you think of the defending Class 8A state champions, the defense comes to mind – with so many quality athletes, making big plays. But the offense also has its share of quality athletes; and here is one of those young men who helps to make that offense go. Ruby is a sound route runner with a very positive work ethic. Another of the juniors who has a chance to really turn heads – the rest of the year, and into the offseason.
2018 – Ryan Saddler, LB/RB, 6-2, 225, Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons: If you are looking for one of the reasons the Chiefs have shot their way to the top this season, here is a good place to start. Saddler is a quality football talent who was talked about plenty in the offseason. He’s a hard-hitting linebacker who will continue to get plenty of looks – with his size and athletic ability drawing the attention to the way he makes plays.
2018 – Marlon Smith, QB, 6-4, 175, Miami Carol City: One of those players who was literally dropped into the hands of the Chiefs – and has just watched his career start to take off on the football field. While many never paid attention to what he was doing earlier in the season, wins over Lakeland, Southridge and a 34-7 trouncing of four-time Class 6A state champion Central, have opened everyone’s eyes. Carol City has a quarterback. Yes, one that could lead them to the school’s first state championship in over a decade. Smith has big-time potential. Watch his stock continue to rise as he picks up more of this game.
2017 – Daniel Walker, S/OLB, 6-0, 175, Miami Palmetto: Talk to anyone about the Panthers’ success and all will tell you how unsung players have stepped up and have made a huge impact. This is one of those defensive talents who has been vital this year for that undefeated start. Walker is a physical hitter who has cover skills and the athletic ability to make plays all over the field. College coaches will have a chance to watch his progress this season – and will be impressed. Another of those talented young men who has a future after high school.