The 7-on-7 circuit is in full swing again, and one can only hope that 2012 can match the intensity and drama that 2011 brought.
American Heritage Plantation played host to a round-robin scrimmage yesterday featuring the Blur, Hard Knocks, and Footballers Fire and Ice, all south Florida 7-on-7 teams. “The outpouring of local talent that showed up to display their abilities was remarkable,” stated Jimmy D. Smith, event organizer of the FloridaHS Footballers. “This event allowed us to showcase the talent against other teams and make final evaluations for the Fire. Florida fuels 7-on-7 football, particularly south Florida, and anytime we’re capable of displaying it for the public and media, it’s really beneficial for the kids.”
Smith shared his opinions on prospects on the rise for 2013.
“I’m really impressed with the heavy-hitting duo of RB Greg Bryant and CB Will Likely from the Blur. They didn’t disappoint, displaying the versatility that programs are looking for. Perhaps the most impressive part of the day was watching the 2014 prospects. I really liked Kendrick Edwards, WR from Hialeah. He has a great frame and is turning into a fantastic prospect for next season. Marquese Dudley-Gordon, Randy Ramsey (CB from Dillard), and Isaih McKenzie (WR American Heritage Plantation) stood out. These are just a few names from the Fire team.”
At this point last year, there were some players more publicized than others. CBs Vernon Davis and Larry Hope didn’t get as much recognition as Deon Bush and Tracy Howard, all of whom signed with Miami and played 7-on-7 football. Jimmy thinks that a few corners could turn the tables in a hurry. “This year in south Florida is just as good as last, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Artie Burns from Miami Northwestern has all the tools to be a great one. Of all the DB prospects over the last few years, he seems to be the one who matches Patrick Peterson athletically,” Smith said. “When all is said and done, over the next few months, more defensive back prospects from south Florida will establish themselves as national recruits.”
Class of 2013 CB Will Likely (5’8, 174) of the Blur has offers from the likes of Miami, Florida, Florida St., LSU, Alabama, and South Carolina, among others. His playmaking ability is off the charts and showed why his signature will be highly sought after come next February.
The 2011 Florida Gatorade Player of the Year explained how he felt the 7-on-7’s sharpen his overall game. “I feel that I’m a competitor that makes plays. These tournaments help out a lot because there are many great players here. We’re all competing against the best and getting better.”
His teammate on the Blur and at Glades Central, Class of 2014 WR Ronquavion Tarver (6’2, 184) made several acrobatic catches yesterday, one in particular, an over-the-shoulder, one-handed grab for a touchdown. Tarver told CaneInsider, “Nobody can stop me.”
Tarver has impressive length and skills for such a young receiver. He’s aggressive and with a little more size, could turn into a feared receiver quickly. His development will bear watching. He currently likes Miami and Ohio St, stating that location won’t play a big factor in his recruitment.
He said yesterday that, “I need to concentrate on getting bigger and faster, but I think my aggressiveness, going up and fighting to get the ball is already good.”
2013 RB Javante Ham (5’8, 170) of Plantation High will get plenty of looks from the Fire squad at running back. “X-Box” as he’s nicknamed, played for the Footballers Ice last season and explained why being a veteran of 7-on-7’s has its advantages. “I know what to look forward to and having already experienced a lot of those things; I think we’ll (as a team) be better off knowing what’s headed our way.”
Ham is noticeably quicker and faster compared to last year at this time. “I’ve been working hard and putting in a lot of extra hours and I’m seeing it finally pay off. My speed, quickness, and hands have improved. I see myself as a better player now.”
Not only does Ham have to replace Hansley Fleurejus, a ridiculously quick and productive RB for the Fire last season, he must become a team leader and find ways to live up to the already lofty expectations the Fire have set. “We had a lot of swagger last season, for sure. I learned some things from those guys last season, even playing on the Ice team, but our swagger and emotions need to carry over,” he said. “It’s very important we bring that back because during so many games, the swagger gave the Fire some momentum when they needed it. It’s very important we match them.”
Ham believes that this year’s version of the Fire can be better than last year’s. “I think we can do a lot of things and I believe we’ll bring back another championship, but we have to raise our game up as a team. We need to raise our emotion levels, bring some intensity, and communicate better.”
2013 ATH Ray Wilson, Jr. impressed with his athletic ability and made some highlight reel catches of his own. Wilson displayed a knack for getting open and the steady hands Fire coaches are looking for. The Palm Beach Central product is hearing from Bowling Green and FIU. When asked what he’ll contribute to Fire if chosen, he said, “I will bring gasoline to the Fire. I can tell you that right now. I’m looking forward to playing with these guys.”
2013 WR Darren Williams of Boyd Anderson High School demonstrated above-average burst, athleticism, and hands yesterday. Williams plays in a spread offense for Boyd Anderson and his playmaking skills were apparent yesterday. He’s hearing from LSU, Texas A&M, Nebraska, and West Virginia.
Williams said of the Fire, “I have a feeling this year’s Fire will have a different style and we’ll put our own stamp on the Fire squad. I watched a lot of the alumni here at practice (yesterday). We’ll have our own brand and hopefully I can be apart of it.”
Williams said of the overall collection of talent at American Heritage that, “you can’t slack or you’ll be embarrassed.”
Follow Michael Bradley on twitter, @miamimike2001.