Friday, August 31, 2007

Broward County's 100 Greatest High School Football Players

Broward Greats: Tyrone Moss (Ely) & Michael Irvin (St. Thomas Aquinas)

Last night I released a list of Dade County's 100 greatest high school players. But let's not forget there's also some great football played north of the county line in The 954. Like the Dade County selections, this list of Broward greats is based strictly on high school career.

Last month former St. Thomas Aquinas star Michael Irvin was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He was the first Broward athlete to receive this honor and the third South Floridian, joining former Dade stars Ted Hendricks and Larry Little. Irvin is the biggest name on the list of past Broward high school superstars. Players are listed in alphabetical order with their school and graduation year.

Broward County's 100 Greatest High School Football Players:

Jamel Agemy - South Broward 1983
Andrew Bain - Ely 2003
Gerald Bain - Hollywood Hills 1974
Rod Baker - Ely 1982
Kevin Beard - Plantation 1999
Jon Beason - Chaminade-Madonna 2003
Jesse Bendross - Miramar 1980
Donnell Bennett - Cardinal Gibbons 1990
Al Blades - Plantation 1996
Brian Blades - Piper 1983
H.B. Blades - Plantation 2003
Bennie Blades - Piper 1984
James Bostic - Dillard 1991
Billy Brown - St. Thomas Aquinas 1993
Bobby Brown - St. Thomas Aquinas 1995
Tony Brown - St. Thomas Aquinas 2000
Isaac Bruce - Dillard 1990
Fred Buckley - Cardinal Gibbons 1981
Bill Capece - Chaminade 1977
Jerry Carmichael - Plantation 1996
Rod Carter - Fort Lauderdale 1984
Rubin Carter - Stranahan 1972
Nigea Carter - Coconut Creek 1993
Antwan Chiles - Cardinal Gibbons 1992
John Congemi - St. Thomas Aquinas 1982
Greg Cox - St. Thomas Aquinas 1984
Henri Crockett - Ely 1992
Travis Daniels - South Broward 2001
Cameron Davis - St. Thomas Aquinas 1992
Autry Denson - Nova 1995
Jeff Fagan - Miramar 1978
Steve Feagin - Deerfield Beach 1988
Darius Frazier - Hallandale 1986
Tucker Frederickson - South Broward 1961
Chris Gamble - Dillard 2001
Tavares Gooden - St. Thomas Aquinas 2003
Tremaine Hall - Deerfield Beach 2001
Jack Hallmon - Dillard 1992
Leonard Hankerson - St. Thomas Aquinas 2007
Bill Hawkins - South Broward 1984
Hyland Hickson - Dillard 1987
Abdul Hodge - Boyd Anderson 2001
Martavious Houston - Boyd Anderson 1995
Stefan Humphries - St. Thomas Aquinas 1980
Steve Hutchinson - Coral Springs 1997
Dou Innocent- Ely 1991
Michael Irvin - St. Thomas Aquinas 1984
Claude Jones - Dillard 1987
James Jones - Ely 1979
Davin Joseph - Hallandale 2002
Anthony Judge - Stranahan 1987
Danny Kanell - Westminster Academy 1992
Andre King - Stranahan 1993
Barry Krauss - Pompano Beach 1975
Wendal Lowery - Dillard 1988
Tyrant Marion - Ely 1991
Stanley McClover - Dillard 2002
Jerome McDougle - Ely 1998
Kevin McDougle - Ely 1990
Stockar McDougle - Deerfield Beach 1995
Bryant McFadden - McArthur 2000
Dwight McFadden - American Heritage 2001
Richard McKenzie - Boyd Anderson 1989
Danny McManus - South Broward 1983
Otis Mounds - Dillard 1992
Dan Morgan - Taravella 1997
Tyrone Moss - Ely 2003
Mike Mularkey - Northeast 1977
Broderick Nelson - South Broward 1996
Emeka Nwanko - Chaminade 2007
Sterling Palmer - St. Thomas Aquinas 1989
Brian Piccolo - Central Catholic (St. Thomas Aquinas) 1961
Cyril Pinder - Crispus Attucks 1964
Daryl Porter - St. Thomas Aquinas 1993
Marc Renaud - Deerfield Beach 1993
Mike Rendina - Pompano Beach 1981
Errict Rhett - McArthur 1989
Terry Richardson - Northeast 1990
Alfredo Roberts - South Plantation 1983
Brian Robinson - Dillard 1991
Twan Russell - St. Thomas Aquinas 1992
Nate Salley - St. Thomas Aquinas 2002
Asante Samuel - Boyd Anderson 1999
O'Neal Sandiford - Plantation 1999
Tony Sands - St. Thomas Aquinas 1988
Frank Sanders - Dillard 1991
Brent Schaefer - Deerfield Beach 2004
Ryan Schneider - Plantation 1999
David Shula - Chaminade 1977
Corey Simon - Ely 1995
Russ Smith - Stranahan 1961
Terry Smith - St. Thomas Aquinas 1993
Brad Strohm - Western 1988
Harvey Thomas - Ely 1988
Keith Uecker - Hollywood Hills 1978
Slip Watkins - St. Thomas Aquinas 1986
Lorenzo White - Dillard 1984
Keith Wilkerson - St. Thomas Aquinas 1994
Major Wright - St. Thomas Aquinas 2007
Sam Young - St. Thomas Aquinas 2006

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dade County's 100 Greatest High School Football Players

Dade County Greats: Jacory Harris & Kenny Phillips

For the past 80 years, Miami-Dade County has produced some of the best high school football talent in Florida and in the nation. Today's college and NFL rosters are littered with athletes from The 305 including Chad Johnson (Miami Beach High) and Santana Moss (Carol City). Past greats inlcude hall of famer Larry Little (Booker T. Washington) and the late Derrick Thomas (South Miami).

But today, I've decided to make a list of the 100 greatest high school football players to ever come out of Dade. The list is based strictly on a player's high school career and accomplishments. College and pro careers do not factor in the decision making. So while Chad Johnson, Santana Moss and Derrick Thomas were great NFL players, their high school careers weren't quite good enough to make this list. There are so many great players, it's almost impossible to narrow it down to 100.

The list consists of athletes who've competed and dominated Dade football for the past eight decades. Each and every player was a great player in his respective era. Some have gone on to great college or pro careers while others have disappeared completely. To qualify, a player must make the Miami Herald's first team All-County or All-City squads. Just about every player was first team All-State and most were prep All Americans. The players are listed in alphabetical order with their school and graduation year. So, here you have it.

Dade County's 100 Greatest High School Football Players:

Tyrone Ashley - Hialeah 1988
Rudy Barber - Carol City 1989
Micheal Barrow - Homestead 1988
Mitch Berger - Coral Gables 1970
Dwayne Bowe - Norland 2003
Joe Brodsky - Jackson 1953
Eddie Brown - Miami High 1981
Lomas Brown - Miami Springs 1981
John Browning - North Miami 1992
Devin Bush - Hialeah-Miami Lakes 1991
Joe Caldwell - Miami High 1956
Vernon Carey - Northwestern 1999
Keith Carter - South Miami 1985
Jesse Causey - Central 1968
James Colzie - South Miami 1993
Neal Colzie - Coral Gables 1971
Markeith Cooper - Palmetto 1996
Darrell Cox - Edison 1960
Larry Crawford - Palmetto 1977
Craig Curry - Coral Gables 1968
Michael Dames - Miami Beach 1984
Rohan Davey - Hialeah-Miami Lakes 1997
Darren Davis - Southridge 1996
Troy Davis - Southridge 1994
Steve Diamond - Miami High 1963
Jim Dooley - Miami High 1948
Antwain Easterling - Northwestern 2007
Steve Everitt - Southridge 1988
Danyell Ferguson - Columbus 1992
Keith Ferguson - Edison 1977
Rufus Ferguson - Killian 1969
Ricky Jean Francois - Carol City 2005
Fred Frink - Miami High 1930
Derrick Gibson - Killian 1997
Max Jean-Gilles - North Miami Beach 2002
Frank Gore - Coral Gables 2001
Lamont Green - Southridge 1994
Ben Hanks - Miami High 1991
Brandon Harris - Booker T. Washington 2008
Jacory Harris - Northwestern 2008
John Harris - Jackson 1974
Mike Harrison - Coral Gables 1957
Ted Hendricks - Hialeah 1965
Alonzo Highsmith - Columbus 1983
Randal Hill - Killian 1987
Orlando Iglesias - Coral Park 1997
Lindy Infante - Miami High 1959
Sedrick Irvin - Miami High 1996
Aldarius Johnson - Northwestern 2008
Andre Johnson - Miami High 1999
Greg Jones - Edison 1986
Herman Jones - South Dade 1974
Marvin Jones - Northwestern 1990
Willie Jones - South Dade 1975
Willie Jones Jr. - Carol City 2001
William Joseph - Edison 1998
Larry Libertore - Edison 1958
David Little - Jackson 1977
Earl Little - North Miami 1992
Dieter Matthes - Norland 1967
Dennis McKinnon - South Miami 1979
Freddie Miles - Miami Springs 1980
Marvin "Snoop" Minnis - Northwestern 1996
Warner Mizell - Miami High 1926
Demetrice Morley - Killian 2005
Ralph Ortega - Coral Gables 1971
Elvis Peacock - Central 1974
Willis Peguese - Southridge 1986
Brett Perriman - Northwestern 1984
Chris Pettaway - American 1985
Kenny Phillips - Carol City 2005
Dick Plasman - Miami High 1933
Larry Rentz - Coral Gables 1965
Fuad Reveiz - Sunset 1981
Willie Roberts - Southridge 2000
George "Buster" Rhymes - Northwestern 1980
Wilmore Ritchie - Edison 1971
Antrel Rolle - South Dade 2001
Omar Rolle - Norland 1994
Samari Rolle - Miami Beach 1994
Ethenic Sands - Carol City 1998
Ted Saussele - Coral Gables 1959
Mike Shula - Columbus 1983
Jackie Simpson - Edison 1953
Barry Smith - Coral Park 1969
Bruce Smith - Miami High 1943
Tony Smith - Southridge 1981
Steve Tannen - Southwest 1966
Sean Taylor - Gulliver 2001
Michael Timpson - Hialeah-Miami Lakes 1985
Arnold Tucker - Miami High 1943
Joey Veargis - South Miami 1990
Elliot Walker - Jackson 1974
Bobby Washington - Killian 2004
Nate Webster - Northwestern 1996
Doug Wiggins - North Miami Beach 2007
Lester Williams - Carol City 1978
Pete Williams - Miami High 1945
Willie Williams - Carol City 2004
Billy Williamson - Coral Gables 1958

Squash Those Chris Chambers Trade Rumors

Last night, the NFL Network reported the Miami Dolphins were shopping around receiver Chris Chambers for a possible trade. Forget about it. This can't happen. Well, anything is possible. But this would just be foolish. Even though the Dolphins have plenty of holes on their roster, they simply can't afford to give up Chambers right now.

Think about it, this is a team that just lost Wes Welker, the Dolphins' leading receiver a year ago, to the Patriots through free agency. If you get rid of Chambers, all you have left is Marty Booker, Derek Hagan, Ted Ginn along with training camp scrubs P.K. Sam and Kerry Reed. Not exactly a group that strikes fear in the hearts of NFL defensive secondaries. Even with Chambers, the Dolphins receiving corps is below average.

Every year, we all want to believe Chambers can be a great NFL receiver. He teases us with occasional spectacular catches and remarkable athletic ability. In 2005 he caught 82 passes for 1,118 yards and 11 TDs--all career highs. He was rewarded with a trip to Honolulu for the Pro Bowl. But he also led the NFL in dropped passes.

Last year, his numbers dropped dramatically and he finished as only the third most productive receiver on the team behind Welker and Marty Booker. At times he seemed like an invisible man and you forgot he was even on the team.

So who is the real Chris Chambers? Is he the Pro Bowl star from 2005 or the vanishing act of 2006? The answer is somewhere in between. If the Dolphins ever want to be a Super Bowl contender again, Chambers can't be the #1 receiver. He's a very good talent. But he's not enough of a consistant playmaker to fit the role. In fairness to Chris, the Dolphins have never had a good quarterback since he arrived in Miami in 2001 out of Wisconsin.

So where are these trade rumors coming from? There are a number of contributing factors. Some have speculated the emergence of Ted Ginn in training camp has fueled the rumors. Ginn is coming off a solid performance in last Saturday's preseason game against Tampa Bay. But his body of work is simply too skimpy to believe he's ready to be a starting NFL receiver. Some have also speculated Chambers offseason DWI arrest in Charlotte has also been a factor.

Another factor may be if Chambers fits Cam Cameron's offensive system. We've seen it happen many times in the NFL where a new head coach is hired and veterans are released. Cameron obviously wants guys who fit his offensive philopsophy. Just this offseason, the Dolphins released tight end Randy McMichael and defensive tackle Fred Evans. Both McMichael and Evans also had offseason arrests. Is Chris Chambers a Cam Cameron type of player. My gut feeling says no. Why else are these rumors sprouting? But for now, I think it's in Cameron's interest to hold to Chambers until Ginn develops. Because like it or not, tease or no tease, Chambers is the best receiver the Dolphins have.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Shannon Names Freeman as Starting QB

Kirby Freeman

When Randy Shannon was hired as the new head football coach of the University of Miami, one of the first things he promised was every player would be given the opportunity to compete on the practice field for a starting job--regardless if the player was a fifth-year senior or a true freshman. There would be no favorites and everybody would be evaluated as equals. After announcing the team's current depth chart, it appears Shannon has kept his word.

His most notable move was to promote Kirby Freeman to starting quarterback. Freeman, a junior from Brownwood, Texas was given the nod over fifth-year senior Kyle Wright. I'm a firm believer that previous head coach Larry Coker would have never made this decision. And that's a good thing. Because under Coker, the program was slowly decaying partly because senior players and upperclassmen never really had to worry about losing their starting jobs to younger and hungry challengers. How do you improve as a football team, if there is no competition on the practice field? You don't. And it's clear the program suffered.

But Freeman's promotion wasn't the only noteworthy wrinkle on the depth chart. John Rochford was named as the team's starting center. This was a huge surprise when you consider Rochford, a fifth-year senior, had never started a game in his career. At one point, Rochford had fallen so out of favor with the previous coaching staff, he was moved to fullback. His only significant moment came as a longsnapper when his snap was botched by punter and holder Brian Monroe on a last minute field goal attempt against Florida State in 2005. The play ultimately cost the Canes the game.

But you have to give credit to Rochford's dedication and work ethic. It would have been easy for him to quit. But somehow he managed to climb up the depth chart and beat out highly-touted A.J. Trump for the starting job. Again, I don't think this would have happened under Coker. To me this is further evidence how a football player can signficantly improve when he knows he can legitimately earn a starting job by outworking his competition on the practice field. That type of competition can only make the team better.

Further evidence is true freshman cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke who will start against Marshall. Or how about senior walk-on Francesco Zampogna coming out of nowhere to win the starting place kicking job over high school All American Matt Bosher and FSU transfer Daren Daly? Again, this would have never happened under the Coker regime.

Getting back to the quarterback position. I can't help but feel bad for Kyle Wright. When he signed his letter of intent to attend UM out high school, he was the hailed as the next great Canes QB. Why not? His credentials were unlike any quarterback to come to the University of Miami. He was a Parade All American, Gatorade National Player of the Year and the nation's most heavily recruited high school quarterback 4 years ago. Wright had dreams of following in the footsteps of the past great Canes quarterbacks including fellow Northern Californians Gino Torretta and Ken Dorsey. He was supposed win national championships and contend for the Heisman Trophy. But it just hasn't worked out.

There are a lot of factors contributing to Wright's lack of development at UM. During his Canes career, Wright has been coached by 4 different offensive coordinators. He's never had a great go-to wide receiver as a target and his pass protection has been poor. Don't get me wrong. I'm not making excuses for Kyle. He was given every opportuntiy to keep the starting quarterback job. But in the end, he was beaten out by his Texan teammate.

But I'm not ready to give up on Kyle Wright just yet. He's always had the physical tools to be a great quarterback. He has the size, arm strength and athletic ability to wow people. But his lack of quarterback instincts, slow release, lack of pocket presence and inability to throw the deep ball with accuracy have contributed to his fall from grace since coming to UM. Can new offensive coordinator Patrick Nix finally bring out the best in Wright? For Kyle's sake, it's now or never. But right now, it doesn't look good.

But I have a sneaky suspicion that at some point in this season, UM is going to need Kyle Wright. I'm not completely sold on Freeman as the team's quarterback. Hopefully he proves me wrong. But right now neither Wright or Freeman has demonstrated the ability to be great. If Freeman doesn't perform well or gets injured, Wright will be needed. There's nothing worse than seeing great talent go to waste. It's up to Kyle Wright to somehow swallow his pride and keep competing on the practice field. Afterall, that's the way Randy Shannon would want it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bring Back the Big Dog!

Joe Rose

For years, it was my morning wakeup ritual. At exactly 7:30 am, my alarm clock radio would blare with the familiar booming voice of the "Big Dog" Joe Rose. Usually he would sing one of his commercial jingles for sponsors like Air Around The Clock or Headquarter Toyota. But let me tell you, just hearing Rose sing one of his out-of-tune jingles was a better pick-me-up than the strongest Cuban coffee. It was irritating. But it got my attention.

However for the past month, the Big Dog has been silenced. Local sports talk station 790 The Ticket has decided to dump Rose from the airwaves and replace him with the annoying Sid Rosenberg, who still thinks he's doing a show in New York. The station's decision wasn't based on ratings. Rose was beating rival WQAM's morning team of Kim Bokamper and Kenny Walker in the most recent ratings book. The decision was based completely out of spite by The Ticket's GM Joel Feinberg.

When WQAM regained the rights to the Miami Dolphins broadcasts, it became well-known it was interested in bringing Rose back to the station where he once worked for over a decade. But Rose was still under contract by The Ticket. When the station pushed Rose to sign a new deal, Rose kept putting the decision off. Finally, Feinberg got fed up and axed Rose.

When Rose went off the air, I was horrified to hear the voice of Sid Rosenberg on my radio. Sorry New Yorkers, but you guys have the most annoying accent known to man. Sid is the posterchild of an obnoxious New Yorker. All he talks about is the Mets, Giants, Knicks and The Sopranos--which I am still proud to say I've never seen a single episode. Rosenberg was fired from his New York radio gig after he made racially insensitve remarks about Serena Williams. Add to that, he was a known concaine addict and alcoholic. To Sid's credit, it seems he's made a nice recovery from his addictions. But as a host, he still sucks.

How much do I dislike Rosenberg? I actually switched the dial and started listening to Kim Bokamper and Kenny Walker. Yikes! Bokamper is okay. But Walker might be the most unknowledgeable person I've ever heard discuss sports. His only connection to sports is that his wife is the director for the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders. His previous job was as a morning DJ on Y-100. He's more fit to introduce a Justin Timberlake song than discuss the Dolphins offense.

But hope is on the way. Bokamper and Walker have been a ratings disaster. WQAM had never lost in the ratings book to another sports talk station until Bokamper and Walker showed up. They're the Larry Coker of sports talk radio. They've taken a good job and driven it to the ground. Enter Joe Rose. He's expected to take over the morning drive slot next month and will also join Jimmy Cefalo and Jim Mandich in the booth for the Dolphins broadcasts. It can't happen soon enough. I never thought I would miss those Nature Bee commercials or those silly jingles. But sometimes you don't know what you've got until it's gone. Come back Big Dog!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Restoring Quarterback U

Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman

Once upon a time, the starting quarterback for the University of Miami was the most glamorous position in all of college sports. From the 1980s to the early 1990s, the Canes produced a conga line of great signal callers from Jim Kelly to Bernie Kosar to Vinny Testaverde, Steve Walsh, Craig Erickson and Gino Torretta. In that group, you'll find one hall of famer, 2 Heisman Trophy winners, 3 first round draft picks, 3 first team All Americans and 4 who started for national championship teams. Five have appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. All 6 went on to play in the NFL. Truly a standard of excellence.

But what has happened to the Miami quarterback position since Torretta? Since 1993, only Ken Dorsey has been able to reach or duplicate those lofty standards. But Dorsey was the exception to the recent rule. In between,UM fans have seen the mediocre likes of Frank Costa, Ryan Collins, Ryan Clement, Scott Covington, Kenny Kelly, Derrick Crudup, Brock Berlin come and go. While a couple of these players had their moments, none of them really lived up to the standards set by their great predecessors.

That leaves us now to UM's current quarterbacks--Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman. Both have been competing for the starting job under great secrecy by head coach Randy Shannon. With the season opener against Marshall less than a week away, Shannon still hasn't named a starter. But what hasn't been a secret is neither Wright nor Freeman has really demonstrated the ability to be great.

History tells us if the Canes are to ever return to the elite of college football, it must restore excellence to the quarterback position. Don't believe me? How about this. Since 1980, UM has finished in the AP Top 10 fifteen times. Only twice did the Canes accomplish this without an elite college quarterback--Frank Costa in 1994 and Brock Berlin in 2003.

The roots of UM's decline at the quarterback position can be traced all the way back to the departure of former offensive coordinator Gary Stevens. Stevens was the OC under head coaches Howard Schnellenberger and Jimmy Johnson. Stevens recruited or coached all of the great UM quarertbacks except Ken Dorsey. Since Stevens left, UM has not found a coach who has demonstrated the ability to develop quarterbacks to elite level.

During the Stevens years, UM employed a revolutionary pro-styled offense in an era where most college teams were run-oriented or used option-styled offenses. Today college football has changed significantly. More teams throw the football than ever before. The spread offenses have become the new norm in the college game. There is now greater competition to recruit high school passers.

So how does UM get back to producing elite quarterbacks? Randy Shannon's most important decision this offseason was to hire the right offensive coordinator. His first choice was former Arizona State head coach Dirk Koetter. Koetter appeared ready to accept the job. But at the last moment, he was lured away by the Jacksonville Jaguars to accept the team's OC position. In the end, Shannon hired former Georgia Tech coordinator Patrick Nix. Nix, a former quarterback at Auburn, brings a solid resume. But it's yet to be seen if he can develop quarterbacks to the standards of UM past.

So who will be the next great Canes quarterback? Personally, I don't think he's played a down of college football yet. Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman possess fine athletic ability. But neither really has great instincts for the game. Wright is robotic, stiff and has trouble making quick decisions. Despite a strong throwing arm, Wright surprisingly has trouble throwing the deep pass. He has very little touch on his throws. Freeman seems like a player in the wrong offense. His strengths are more geared to his mobility. He can throw the deep ball. But he has a bad habit of looking to run first before making his second and third reads. Teammates supposedly rave about Freeman's leadership skills. But is that enough? Probably not.

UM has one other scholarship quarterback on its roster--freshman Robert Marve from Tampa. Last year,Marve was voted Florida's Mr. Football after leading Tampa's Plant High School to the Class 4A state title and breaking Tim Tebow's single season passing yardage record. Not bad. Marve will likely not play this season after sustaining injuries from a car accident last month. But lets not forget Kyle Wright was the Gatorade National Player of the Year when he graduated from Monte Vista High School in Danville, California. Yesterday's high school star doesn't alway translate into today's college star. I'm not ready to annoint Marve as the next great Canes QB until he plays a down. But it certainly isn't Wright or Freeman.

Dolphins Reveal Flashes of the Future

John Beck and Lorenzo Booker

The Dolphins third preseason game may have ended in a 31-28 loss to Tampa Bay. But if you watched Saturday night's game against the Bucs, you got the opportunity to finally see some flashes of the team's future. No longer do we have to imagine what John Beck, Lorenzo Booker or Ted Ginn can do on offense. We've now seen it.

Like any rookie quarterback Beck had his ups and downs. He's seen plenty of action during the preseason, engineering game winning drives in the first two exhibition games against Jacksonville and Kansas City. But his best and most extensive performance came in last night's loss to Tampa Bay. He completed 11 of 22 passes for 162 yards and 2 TDS--one each to P.K. Sam and Derek Hagan. Both of his touchdown passes traveled at least 30 yards. Not all of his passes were pretty. But forget about style points. A quarterback's job is to march his offense into the end zone. Beck has demonstrated he can move the team.

My only disappointment with Beck is that he has yet to see action with the first team offense. Once again, Trent Green and Cleo Lemon got reps with the first team in the first half. So much for that open quarterback competition Cam Cameron had preached before the beginning of training camp.

And who was that guy wearing #20 in the Dolphins backfield? Finally a Lorenzo Booker sighting! Prior to last night's game, Booker had yet to touch the ball in a game. I swore I saw his face on a milk carton while shopping at Publix. Even undrafted rookie Patrick Cobbs was getting more playing time. Booker, a rookie from FSU, finally showed some of the quickness and balance that made the Dolphins choose him in the 3rd round of the draft. Earlier this week, Miami Herald writer Armando Salguero had said the Dolphins were saving Booker as a "secret weapon". Yeah right. Call me a skeptic, but me thinks Booker's lack of playing time had more to do with his grasp of the playbook than his ability as a secret weapon.

Before last night's game, Ted Ginn's only real action was as a punt and kick returner. Quite frankly, the only thing Ginn did in the first two games was demonstrate his dancing ability. Instead of taking the ball up the field, Ginn thought he could simply just dance around tacklers like he did at Ohio State and outrun them. Welcome to the NFL son. That fancy footwork may work in college, but when you play on Sundays everybody can run fast. The Dolphins didn't draft Ginn and his family to boogie at nightclubs in South Beach.

But all that dancing aside, I liked the fact the Dolphins finally showcased Ginn's ability as a receiver. He only caught 3 short passes. But he did a nice job technique-wise, running good routes and catching the ball with his hands instead of resorting to bad habits some rookies make by using their body.

On a side note. What's up with Cam Cameron experimenting with Ronnie Brown on kickoff returns? Didn't the Dolphins draft Ted Ginn and Lorenzo Booker for this? It's obvious Cameron wants to light a fire under Brown. But using Brown as a kick returner serves no purpose unless Ronnie has a hidden talent to return kicks--something he's never really demonstrated.

Kudos to Cameron for opening up the playbook Saturday night. The first team offense actually looked functional with Trent Green--despite the interception he threw to Cato June. The first team offense scored two TDs in the first half. Believe me, that's huge progress when you consider it how bad the Dolphins first team offense looked against Jacksonville and Kansas City. By the way, you gotta love that Statue of Liberty play to Jesse Chatman--straight out of the Boise State playbook.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Booker T. Washington Dominates on ESPN

Booker T. Washington WR/DB Brandon Harris

They're not considered the best high school football team in Miami. Some consider them only the third best team in Dade/Broward behind Northwestern and St. Thomas Aquinas. But Booker T. Washington High is the king of the state today. The Tornadoes made a huge statement crushing Summerville High School (South Carolina) 36-3 on the road in front of a national television audience on ESPN.

How big was this win? Consider this, Summerville was the 8th ranked team in the nation. Summerville's tradition is one of the most impressive in the South. Head Coach John McCissick is the winningest football coach at any level. That's right, more wins than Don Shula, Eddie Robinson, Bobby Bowden or Joe Paterno.

But none of that mattered. The boys from Overtown made quick work of the slower-footed home team in South Caroina. If you're a Canes fan, you should have paid very close attention to this game. Two of Booker T's starting receivers (Davon Johnson & and Thearon Collier) have verbally committed to attending UM. Johnson had two long touchdown catches.

The best prospect on the team is the do-everything and all-everything Brandon Harris. Harris plays wide receiver, cornerback and sometimes fills in at quarterback. He's the son of head coach Tim "Ice" Harris and one of the best high school athletes in the state. He has a long laundry list of schools begging for his services including: Miami, Florida, FSU, Ohio State, LSU and many more. Brandon has yet to decide which wchool he will attend. But whatever school signs him is getting a tremendous talent.

This game proved what a lof South Floridians have known for a long time. The best football talent comes from down here. FSU head coach Bobby Bowden has said the most fertile area of football talent is in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Former Canes coach Howard Schnellenberger's blueprint to make UM into a national power was to recruit "The State of Miami". If you look at the rosters of the Canes 5 national championship teams, it won't take you long to notice a huge portion come from South Florida.

Current Canes coach Randy Shannon has so far done a tremendous job landing verbal commitments from many of Dade and Browards top players. Those committments include Northwestern High stars Aldarius Johnson, Jacory Harris, Marcus Forston, Sean Spence and Brandon Washington. He also has a committment from Broward County's best prospect Patrick Johnson, a cornerback from Ely High. If Shannon can hold on to those committments and ride the wave of momentum he's built in the early recruiting period, the Canes will be back as a power again.

Ron Artest to the Heat? Make it happen Pat!

Hide the women and children. Because if Pat Riley has his way, Ron Artest may be coming to our neck of the woods soon. It's no secret the Heat and its fans have been disappointed with the offseason free agent aquisitions. So far the Heat have added the inconsistant Smoosh Parker and the over-the-hill Penny Hardaway to its already aging roster that resembles a Century Village All Star Team than an NBA playoff contender.

It's not like the Heat haven't tried to bring in free agents. Moe Williams and Rashard Lewis were both pursued vigorously by Riley and general manager Randy Pfund.
Adding to the frustation, Eastern Conference rivals Boston acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, while Orlando added Rashard Lewis to its improving roster. The last time we saw the Heat, they were embarassed and looked every bit as old as advertised against the Bulls.

The addition of Ron Artest is certainly high risk and high reward proposition. Artest brings an influx of energy desparately needed on this Heat team. He's as tough and tenacious a wing defender as you'll find in the game. He's got good range from the outside and he'll battle tooth and nail for every loose ball. The bottom line is he will make this team better.

But if you know anything about Artest, he hardly resembles the white knight to the rescue. His problems on and off the court have been well-documented. From his numerous suspensions to his participation in the infamous Pacers vs. Pistons brawl and his arrest for domestic violence. He's a volitile performer with a lot of baggage.

However, at this point, the Heat have to do something to shake up its roster. The team has releasted Eddie Jones. Gary Payton has retired and the future of James Posey remains questionable. Right now, the Heat are a worse team than it was 365 days ago. Is acquiring a Artest an act of desparation? Maybe to an extent. But it perhaps this is a necessary evil.

Artest is the type of player you hate if he's playing against your team. He plays hard and he's been known to bend the rules. But when he's on your side, you still might hate him. But he will make your team better and that's the bottom line. Make it happen Pat! Go get em!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Finally, a win!

After 8 consecutive losses filled with fielding blunders and missed opportunties, the Marlins are finally in the win column. (All apologies to former Marlins radio announcer Joe Angel for stealing his material) Earlier today, I was actually contemplating on whether to stop shaving until the Marlins win a game. Well thanks to tonight's 11-1 victory over the Cardinals, I won't be confused for a member of the Taliban. I won't have to audition for the next Geico Caveman commercial.

At this point, there's nothing really to play for. Just stay out of the cellar and hopefully Hanley Ramirez or Miguel Cabrera can win the batting title. Baseball is a long season. But it's even longer when your team sucks. I guess things could be worse. I could be a Baltimore Orioles fan and watch my team get destroyed 30-3 by the Texas Rangers.

All of a sudden, preseason football sounds pretty riveting. I can't wait to see Cleo Lemon throw passes to P.K. Sam while the great Craig Bolerjack is calling the action. Woo hoo!

Dillard Legend Otis Gray Passes Away

Otis Gray, one of the greatest high school football coaches in Broward
County and South Florida history, passed away today after battling
colon cancer. He was 62 years old. Nobody represented Dillard High
School with more pride than Gray. In 1979 he left his job as head coach
atBoca Raton High School to return to his alma mater--Dillard--where he graduated in early 1960s back when Dillard was the one of three all-black high schools in Broward County during segregation.

In his 13 years as Dillard head coach, he changed the Panthers football
program from a struggling inner city school into a state and national
power. His accomplishments included a 107-55 record, two Class 4A state
championships (1986 and 1989) and a Class 4A runner-up finish in 1990.
His 1990 team was ranked among the top 25 teams in the nation by USA

But more important than his record is the impact he had
on young men in the Dillard community. Many of them came from some of
the toughest streets and neighborhoods in FortLauderdale and went on to
college scholarships and successful careers both in and out of
football. Some of them became superstars in college and the NFL. They
include former Michigan State All American and NFL running back Lorenzo
White, former NFL Pro Bowl receiver Isaac Bruce and Auburn and NFL
receiver Frank Sanders.

Gray was truly one of the elite coaches in the history of high school football in South Florida. He's one of only 3 coaches in Broward County history to win multiple state titles. (George Smith of St. Thomas Aquinas and Mark Guandolo of Chaminade-Madonna are the others.) He's also a member of the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame.

Perhaps Gray's greatest accomplishment is making Dillard a better
school and leaving a huge legacy that will be tough to duplicate. He
will be missed.

Dade and Broward football coaches with multiple state titles:

Nick Kotys (Coral Gables): 1963, 1964, 1967, 1968
George Smith (St. Thomas Aquinas): 1992, 1997, 1998
Walt Frazier (Carol City): 1996, 1997, 2003
Otis Gray (Dillard): 1986, 1989
Don Soldinger (Southridge): 1991, 1993
Billy Rolle (Northwestern/Killian): 1998, 2004
Mark Guandolo (Chaminade-Madonna): 2003, 2005

Notable Athletes who played for Otis Gray:

Mark Richt- Played for Gray at Boca Raton High School, head coach at Georgia
Lorenzo White- All American at Michigan State, Houston Oilers
Isaac Bruce - Former NFL receiver with the Rams
Frank Sanders - Former Auburn and NFL receiver
Claude Jones - Former UM offensive lineman
Otis Mounds - Former Auburn defensive back
Calvin Jackson -Played for the Dolphins in the 90s
Hyland Hickson - former Michigan State running back
Wendal Lowery - former Parade All American quarterback

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Bad News Marlins

Another evening and yet another loss. The Marlins have now dropped their last 8 consecutive games and future isn't looking any brighter. It's enough to make me want to throw a Scott Olsen tantrum. As a child growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I equate this team with the classic kids movie "The Bad News Bears". No, Fredi Gonzalez does not resemble Walter Matthau and Miguel Olivo doesn't look like Englebert from the movie. But if you watch the Marlins play defense, it's just as comical as the film.

Has there ever been a major league catcher with worse hands than Miguel Olivo? Anybody? Almost everytime there's a play at home plate, Olivo rarely comes up with the ball cleanly and makes the tag. He's cost the Marlins at least 4 games this year by dropping throws to the plate. When watching Olivo, you'd swear Roberto Duran was standing behind home plate wearing catcher's gear. Like the former boxing great, Olivo also has hands of stone. Olivo ranks second in the National League with 11 errors. Only Russell Martin of the Dodgers has more. And that doesn't include all the pass balls that escape his mitt.

Just last night, Hanley Ramirez airmails a throw over the head of Mike Jacobs to give the Cardinals the lead--which they would never relinquish. Chunky third baseman Miguel Cabrera is fun to watch with the bat, but painful to witness in the field.

I've been watching Marlin games since the franchise debuted in 1993 and I've never seen a worse defensive team at the major league level. And that's saying something. Yes, I remember the horror of watching Junior Felix trying to make catch fly balls in right field. He'd run circles around the outfield trying to find the ball only to have it drop nowhere near him. They could have stuck Stevie Wonder in right field and you wouldn't have noticed the difference. But believe it or not, this year's Marlins team is even worse defensively. It's almost like they're fielding a team full of designated hitters.

It doesn't help when three of your top starting pitchers from last year (Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco)have spent most of the season on the disabled list. Then add the lackluster season of Dontrelle Willis and the always combustible Scott Olsen and you've got a season down the tubes. Whether you're Fredi Gonzalez or Walter Matthau, it's very hard overcome those kind of deficiencies.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Goodbye to 70 years of Canes football at the OB

Orange Bowl circa 1940s, 1950s and today

You knew it was going to happen. It was only a matter of time. After years of neglect by the City of Miami, the Orange Bowl will now be an empty nest. Exactly twenty years ago, Dolphins owner Joe Robbie moved his team out of the Orange Bowl and into a brand new privately-funded stadium he built on his own. In 1996 the Fed Ex Orange Bowl also abandoned the OB. Earlier today, University of Miami president Donna Shalala made it official. The Canes will leave the Orange Bowl after 70 years of calling the OB home.

Like most Canes fans, the thought of UM playing anywhere but the OB was blasphemous. I still shudder to think of the team playing in Dolphins Stadium, with its sterile atmosphere and lack of mystique. You can paint the end zones orange and green with The U logo. The team will still run out of the tunnell through smoke. But deep down inside, it won't be the same. Once you pull into the parking lot, you'll see the signs that say "Dolphins Stadium". You'll see the Marlins baseball diamond covering the playing surface. It's enough to make Sebastian The Ibis cry.

But I've got news for you Canes fans. Life goes on and UM is making the right move. You can either watch your team continue playing in a decaying rusty erector set or you can watch them play in a first-class facility. Hmmm....I wonder what I'd rather have? Don't get me wrong, I love the Orange Bowl as much as anyone. I grew up watching games there. But I also want the best for the University of Miami program. This program has won 5 national championships and deserves a top-notch modern stadium.

Will the Canes lose their home field advantage? Maybe. Yes, Miami won 58 consecutive home games from 1985 to 1994 and 5 national championships since 1983. But was it because of the Orange Bowl? Or perhaps the Canes just simply had better players. I tend to believe the latter. Otherwise, how do you explain all the great Canes victories on the road? I can remember great UM victories at Tallahassee, Gainesville, Ann Arbor, Norman and Knoxville. The great Canes teams won no matter where they played. Why? Because they were simply better.

Let's face it. It's rickety, rusty, the bathrooms stink and who knows what is leaking from the rafters. But regardless of what you choose to believe, there's no doubt when the Orange Bowl is filled for a big game, there's no place on earth quite like it.

Here are some memorable Hurricane football moments at the OB:

December 10, 1937 Georgia 26 UM 0: First football game played at the new Orange Bowl Stadium. Its original name was Roddy Burdine Stadium. The name was officially changed to The Orange Bowl in 1959.

January 1, 1946 UM 13 Holy Cross 6: Al Hudson returns an interception 89 yards for a touchdown on the game's final play to give the Canes the victory. Hudson was a state champion sprinter at Miami's Edison High School.

January 1, 1951 Clemson 15 UM 14: UM halfback Frank Smith is tackled in the end zone for a safety by Clemson's Sterling Smith in the 4th quarter.

October 7, 1955 Notre Dame 14 UM 0: The first sellout crowd in UM history (75,685) witnesses the first meeting between the Irish and Canes. Notre Dame is led by junior quarterback Paul Hornung.

November 27, 1971 UF 45 UM 17: This game was dubiously known as "The Florida Flop". With the Gators comfortably ahead late in game, UF defensive players dropped to the ground and let UM quarterback John Hornibrook score purposely in order to get the ball back for their quarterback John Reaves. Reaves needed just a few yards to break Jim Plunkett's then NCAA record for career all purpose yards. Reaves would break the record. UF players carried Reaves off the field and began celebrating by jumping in the Flipper tank in the east end zone. Furious Miami coach Fran Curci refused to shake the hand of UF coach Doug Dickey.

September 21, 1973 UM 20 Texas 15: The Longhorns entered the 1973 season opener ranked #1 by Sports Illustrated and #6 by the AP. UM was a struggling program on the brink of extinction in the 1970s. None of that mattered this evening. Texas All American running back Roosevelt Leaks' fumble late in the 4th quarter helped the Canes pull off the upset. A small crowd of 30,080 witnessed the shocker.

September 27, 1980 UM 10 FSU 9: Canes defensive lineman Jim Burt knocks down a 2-point conversion pass from FSU's Rick Stockstill to give the Canes the victory. The win was Miami's first over a top 10 team since 1966. The game was FSU's only loss during the regular season.

September 5, 1981 UM 21 UF 20: Backup quarterback Mark Richt replaces an injured Jim Kelly in the fourth quarter and leads UM into field goal range late in the game. Kicker Danny Miller's 55 yard field goal bounces over the cross bar giving the Canes the victory. A sellout crowd of 73,817 witnesses the game. It was the largest crowd to watch a UM game since 1969.

October 31, 1981 UM 17 Penn State 14: The Canes upset #1 Penn State in front of a national television audience. Jim Kelly had an 80 yard TD pass to Larry Brodsky. Safety Fred Marion intercepted Penn State's Todd Blackledge twice, including the game clincher with less than a minute to play. The victory was UM's first against a top ranked team.

January 2, 1984 UM 31 Nebraska 30: Canes win their first national championship upsetting #1 Nebraska and ending the Huskers 22 game win streak. Miami's Kenny Calhoun deflects a two-point conversion pass to preserve the victory. Canes freshman QB Bernie Kosar throws for a then OB record 300 yards and 2 TD passes to TE Glenn Dennison.

November 10, 1984 Maryland 42 UM 40: This game marked the greatest comeback in college football history. Maryland, led by quarterback Frank Reich, overcame a 31-0 halftime deficit to shock the Canes.

November 23, 1984 Boston College 47 UM 45: Doug Flutie's Hail Mary pass to Gerard Phelan ranks as arguably the most famous play in college football history. Forgotten were brilliant performances by Canes running back Melvin Bratton who scored 4 TDs and quarterback Bernie Kosar who threw for over 400 yards.

November 30, 1985 UM 58 Notre Dame 7: The Canes crush the Irish in Gerry Faust's final game as Notre Dame head coach. CBS broadcasters Brent Musberger and former ND coach Ara Parseghian accuse Miami coach Jimmy Johnson of running up the score. Notre Dame fans would later call this rivalry "Catholics vs. Convicts" following this loss.

September 27, 1986 UM 28 Oklahoma 16: In this collosal #1 vs. #2 matchup, Canes quarterback Vinny Testaverde threw for 286 yards and 4 touchdown passes-including 2 to Michael Irvin. Testaverde frustrated the Sooners his passing elusiveness as a scrambler and set a record for consecutive completions. Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth made a school record 18 tackles in a losing cause. The Miami defense led by Daniel Stubbs shut down the OU wishbone. Oklahoma was ranked #1 entering the game and was the defending national champions. Testaverde would go on to win the Heisman Trophy.

January 1, 1988 UM 20 Oklahoma 14: Miami wins its 2nd national championship by beating the top ranked Sooners. Once again both teams were ranked #1 and #2 in the nation. For the 3rd consecutive year, the Canes beat the Sooners--giving Oklahoma their only 3 losses during that period. Canes quarterback Steve Walsh threw 2 touchdown passes. Miami fullback Melvin Bratton tied an Orange Bowl Classic record with 9 pass receptions including a 30-yard touchdown on the game's opening drive. Sophomore linebacker Bernard Clark filled in for suspended starter George Mira Jr. and made 14 tackles and was defensive MVP.

September 3, 1988 UM 31 FSU 0: The Noles entered the season opener as the #1 ranked team in the country. Led by All American cornerback/kick returner Deion Sanders, FSU players made a rap video and entered the Orange Bowl with plenty of swagger. When the game was over, the Noles left with their tails between their legs. UM quarterback Steve Walsh threw 2 TD passes and backup QB Craig Erickson added another. The Cane defense held FSU running back Sammie Smith to 6 yards rushing.

November 25, 1989 UM 27 Notre Dame 10: The Canes end Notre Dame's 23 game win streak--the longest in Irish history. The game is highlighted by a 12-minute scoring drive to begin the second half. Miami QB Craig Erickson completes a 44 yard pass to Randal Hill to convert 3rd down and 43. Canes linebacker Bernard Clark dominates the game defensively holding Notre Dame's offense to just 3 points. Miami goes on to win the national championship. Notre Dame finishes #2.

October 12, 1991 UM 26 Penn State 20: Miami's trio of explosive receivers Lamar Thomas, Horace Copeland and Kevin Williams, known as the "Rutheless Posse" proved to be too much for a scrappy and tough Penn State team determined spoil the Canes bid for a national championship. Quarterback Gino Torretta threw 2 long TD passes to Thomas and Copeland. Williams added an 80 yard punt return for a touchdown. Safety Darryl Williams made a game saving interception to stop Penn State's upset bid.

January 1, 1992 UM 23 Nebraska 0: The Canes clinch their 4th national championship with a dominant defensive performance. Freshman fullback Larry Jones rushed for over 100 yards and a touchdown to capture offensive MVP honors. Defensive end Rusty Medearis had 4 sacks and led a Canes defense the rarely allowed Nebraska to cross midfield. This game marked just the second shutout loss for Nebraska during the Tom Osborne era.

October 3, 1992 UM 19 FSU 16: FSU kicker Dan Mowrey misses a potential game tying field goal in the final seconds. The Canes trailed most the game until Gino Torretta's touchdown bomb to Lamar Thomas late in the 4th quarter. Nole freshman Tamarick Vanover returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. But Miami's defense kept the Canes in the game, including 6 sacks of quarterback Charlie Ward. The game is known as "Wide Right II".

September 24, 1994 Washington 38 UM 24: Led by quarterback Damon Huard and tailback Napoleon Kaufman, the Huskies shock the Canes and end UM's 58 game win streak. It was Miami's first home loss in 9 years.

January 1, 1995 Nebraska 24 UM 17: Nebraska clinches the national championship. Tommie Frazier came off the bench in the fourth quarter to lead the Huskers to a come-from-behind victory. Fullback Corey Schlesinger scored the winning touchdown. Miami led most of the game thanks to 2 touchdown passes from Frank Costa to Trent Jones and Jonathan Harris. But the Canes offense was shut down in the second half and the defense ran out of gas. The victory gave coach Tom Osborne the first of three national championships.

December 5, 1998 UM 49 UCLA 45: Edgerrin James rushes for a school record 298 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead the Canes to an upset victory. UCLA entered the game with a 20 game win streak and ranked 3rd in the nation. UCLA quarterback Cade McNown passed for 513 yards, 5 TD passes and rushed for another touchdown.

September 18, 1999 Penn State 27 UM 23: Penn State quarterback Matt Thompson fires a perfect bomb to receiver Chafie Fields for the winning touchdown. Fields beats UM cornerback Mike Rumph on the play.

October 7, 2000 UM 27 FSU 24: Ken Dorsey's touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey gives the Canes the lead with less than a minute to play. FSU kicker Matt Munyon misses a potential game tying field goal on the last play of the game. The game is known as "Wide Right 3".

November 24, 2001 UM 61 Washington 7: Canes avenge their only loss of the 2000 season. Clinton Portis scores 4 TDS in front of a raucus sold out crowd.

October 12, 2002 UM 28 FSU 27: Noles kicker Xavier Beitia misses a 43 yard field goal attempt wide left as time expired. Ken Dorsey and Willis McGahee rally the Canes from a 27-14 4th quarter deficit.

September 6, 2003 UM 38 UF 33: Former Gator QB Brock Berlin rallies Miami from a 23 point deficit. Frank Gore scores the winning TD.

September 10, 2004 UM 16 FSU 10 (OT): Frank Gore scores the winning touchdown in overtime.

October 14, 2004 UM 41 Louisville 38: After trailing virtually the entire game, Devin Hester breaks the game open with a 78 yard punt return for a TD. Frank Gore added the winning TD at the end.

October 14, 2006 UM 35 FIU 0: First meeting between the two cross-town programs is marred by an ugly bench clearing brawl that results in the ejection and suspension of several players.

Sports South Florida Style

Welcome to my blog. If you're a fan of the Dolphins, Hurricanes, Heat, Marlins and Panthers this is the place to be. We'll also discuss local high school sports in Dade and Broward counties as well as FIU and FAU. There are plenty of great sports towns in this country. But no place has more swagger and flavor than South Florida.

We are the home of the NFL's only perfect team--the 1972 Dolphins. We are the home of the 5 time national champion Miami Hurricanes. We are the home the 2-time World Series champion Florida Marlins. And we are the home of Shaq and D-Wade. W

Whether you're just keeping it real in the 305 or just chillen in the 954, this is your blog. We are South Florida.