For years, South Florida has been the epicenter for college football recruiters, looking to enhance their programs.READ MORE: CBS4 Exclusive: Former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel Calls Scot Peterson's Press Conference On His Deposition 'Fictional'
Some things never change.
The Class of 2017 closed the book on their high school football careers Saturday night with the Eighth Annual TruSports Foundation Public/Private All-Star game at McArthur High School in Hollywood.
While the Public team, which featured some of the best from Miami-Dade and Broward, evened the series at 4-4 – with a 27-23 win, this game has always been about exposure and that one last chance to impress.
In what some are calling one of the most exciting postseason all-star games in many years, Saturday night represented hope for nearly 100 prospects that still do not have that college scholarship – as National Signing Day (Feb. 1) approaches.
“What this game has always been about, from an athletic standpoint, is giving these young men another opportunity to be seen,” said founder and organizer Mario Smith. “From the beginning, it was always about giving these athletes that one final chance to impress.”
The Public vs. Private is a unique game. It not only highlights the amazing skills these football players have on the field, but also highlights what they accomplish in the classroom.
If you are not a qualifier, you cannot play in the game. That is something that everyone pays attention to, and is the most important thing in the entire recruiting process.
“If you do not get it done in the classroom, there is no way a college will look at you,” said Hallandale first-year head coach Benedict Hyppolite. “In all my years being around this great sport, is that if you have no grades, nobody can sell you to any school.”
Doral Academy first-year head coach Jase Stewart, agreed. Stewart has worked to get kids into college for years and fully understands why grades are essential for everyone.
A game such as this is not only just another postseason all-star event – it attracts elite football talent.
That is why an Eddie Brill (Miami Beach) and Nick Gonzalez (Christopher Columbus) can emerge almost out of nowhere, throw for over 200 yards apiece and immediately get that attention needed.READ MORE: Miami Beach City Commission Unanimously Approves Dedicating Baseball Field After Surfside Condo Collapse Victim Manny LaFont
“This is an honor to play in this game and have a chance to get that additional exposure,” said Brill, who was the Offensive MVP with a 10-of-16 performance for 215 yards and three touchdowns. “When you can get it done against great athletes like we had in this game, it really helps your chances of being noticed.”
The same can be said for Mater Academy defensive back Nez Dacosta, who was the first player in the history of the game to come up with two interceptions.
The Mater Academy standout was named Defensive MVP, but admits that having many of his teammates out there, playing with him in his final high school game, made the entire experience one to remember.
“I hope that a game like this will help get me more recognition with just a few weeks left before National Signing Day,” Dacosta explained. “This was a very good game with athletes on both sides of the ball.”
As the spotlight fell on Brill, Gonzalez and Dacosta, this game had more than its share of outstanding football players and prospects.
In the game, the Private team took a 3-0 lead on a 31-yard field goal by Doral’s Vladimir Rivas. The Public team came right back when Miami Edison receiver Alex Ortiz took a pass from Brill 57 yards for a score with 6:01 left in the first half.
The Private team showed why this would a competitive game – when Christopher Columbus quarterback Nick Gonzalez tossed a lateral pass to Doral Academy’s Dextan Hodge Jr. who spotted teammate Derian Scott and hurled the ball down to the 4-yard line. The Doral Academy connection finished things off when running back Javier Zuniga plowed through the line for the 4-yard touchdown.
The second half proved to be very exciting with both teams exchanging scores and big plays – with the Public holding on for the victory.
Other Private team players that were impressive included Daniel Doriscar (RB, Mater Academy), Jorell Knight (DE, Mater Academy), Edwin Sosa (LB, Mater Academy) and Murphy Theodore, who all have turned heads during the past 3-4 years.
Public school prospects also making a huge impact included Miramar’s Sebastian Dolcine (OL), Xavier Laing (OLB/DE), Trevaughn Lucas (CB) and receiver Anthony Needham. There were also Hialeah defensive back Xavier Oliver; and Hallandale difference makers Shemar Thornton (WR) and defensive back Willie White.
In a game such as this, there are so many talented young men, trying to grab the spotlight. Here are a few of those prospects that have a chance to continue playing at the next level:
PRIVATE PROSPECT SPOTLIGHT
Marquis Adams, DB, Everglades Prep
Gabriel Barrocas, LB, Doral Academy
Christopher DeJesus, WR, Citi Christian
Sebastian Delgado, OL, Doral Academy
Daniel Duasso, LB, Westminster Christian
Matthew Fernandez, DL, Westminster Academy
Lio’Undre Gallimore, WR, Mater Academy
David Garrales, DT, Doral Academy
Hunter Greggs, DL, North Broward Prep
Kevin Guelce, WR/DB, Archbishop McCarthy
Claudio Hernandez, OL/DL, Mater Academy
Fabian Herrera, DT, Doral Academy
Anthony Jones, RB, Westminster Academy
Colten Katcher, DE, Miami Country Day
Devonta Lopez, DB, Mater Academy
Hugh Lowson, QB, Palmetto
Guillermo Miraz, OL, Doral Academy
Vladimir Rivas, PK, Doral Academy
Travon Roberts, WR, Mater Academy
Joshua Santil, DL, Delray American Heritage
Jordan Silva, DB, Mater Academy
Roderick Simms, WR/DB, Doral Academy
Zaire Jacobs, DB, St. Thomas Aquinas
Carlos Tardencial, OL, Doral Academy
Steven Tobie, DE, Doral Academy
Sekou Viellard, WR, St. Thomas Aquinas
PUBLIC PROSPECT SPOTLIGHT
Divyne Anderson, LB, Hallandale
Rommeo Brown, RB, Hialeah
Jordany Bruny, OL, Dr. Krop
Anthony Cepero, LB, Everglades
Habujahma Derival, OL, Miramar
Daniel Enriquez, WR, Coral Gables
Roddy Evans, WR, Miramar
Jaylen Floyd, DB, Miramar
Alejandro Garcio, OL/DL, American
Frederick Gonsalves, DB, Northwestern
Aundray Henley, WR, Flanagan
Jo’Kwan Holmes, RB, American
Trevon Jackson, WR, Miami Beach
Zaemione Jones, DB, Hallandale
Khalil Lynes, DE, American
Sidney McCloud, DB, Miramar
De’Andre Miles, QB, Hialeah
Nathan Perdomo, DB, Southwest Miami
Amir Rivera, DB, Southwest Miami
Devin Saunders, RB, Hallandale
Matthew Smith, DE/OLB, North Miami
Caleb Thomas, WR, Flanagan
Christopher Williams, DB, Miami Central
Larry Williams, WR, North Miami
Ranny Williams, QB, Miramar
John Wright, DL, Barbara Goleman