Recruiting: 10 potential 'industry misses' in Miami-Dade and Broward County

Frank Tucker
Special to The Post

South Florida routinely blesses fans with clusters of underrated gems.

As the spring season begins, some of these soon-to-be stars have already caught the attention of recruiters, coaches, and fans with offers and highlights. 

However, three of the six South Florida prospects drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft were ranked as a 3-star or lower, proving that the best players aren’t always considered amongst the top prospects.

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Here are 10 of those potential ‘industry misses’:

Berkeley Prep's Xavier Townsend (3) tries to dodge a tackle from Chaminade-Madonna's D'angelo Ponds (5). Chaminade-Madonna leads Berkeley Prep 7-0 at the half of the 3A State Championship game at Gene Cox Stadium on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021.

D’Angelo Ponds, 2023, Cornerback, Chaminade-Madonna

Chaminade has been blessed with elite talent since head coach Dameon Jones has taken the wheel in Hollywood, signing multiple prospects to the Power 5 level on a yearly basis.

Ponds (5-foot-10, 165 pounds) doesn’t fit the mold of the prototypical corner but his resume stacks up against the best in the 954 and 305. A state champion who is battle-tested thanks to the Lion’s top schedule, he has proven his worth as a versatile chess piece with 10.65 100m speed. He currently holds an offer from Florida Atlantic University.

Corey Washington, 2023, Wide Receiver, Miami Central

Tutu Atwell. Antonio Brown. Elijah Moore. Isaiah McKenzie. The list of undersized wideouts to elevate their game past the hunger for size goes on and on.

Washington (5’9 155) is an explosive wide receiver/returner that terrifies both defensive and special teams coordinators alike. His first season as a Rocket consisted of double-digit touchdowns and several big plays that helped Central secure their third consecutive state championship. He possesses one of the more exciting highlight tapes in the 2023 class and offers from UNC Charlotte and Rutgers.

Gabe Hardman, 2023, Linebacker, Miami Palmetto

The South Florida linebacker group is one of the best in recent memory and Hardman (6’ 205) is deserving of recognition.

A second team All-Dade Large School selection in 2021, the centerpiece of the Palmetto defense plays with energy and is consistently destructive at the point of contact. He has a throwback style when roaming as a run defender but has flashed coverage skills on passing downs and in 7-on-7 settings. Another season of solid production should add to his lone offer of Marshall.

Venice High wide receive Omari Hayes takes on Miami Columbus defender Ahmere Foster (#5). Venice defeated Miami Columbus 35-7 to win the Class 8A semi-final Friday night in Venice.

Ahmere Foster, 2023, Safety, Columbus

Columbus was home to one of the Top 5 defensive back units in the state last season, consisting of potentially four Division 1 prospects.

Only one of those Explorer stars remain and that’s Ahmere Foster (5’11 165), a soon-to-be four-year starter who despite not being a household name, is a key player for the 2021 8A state semifinalists. He is already a two-time champion who has offers from James Madison, Marshall, Coastal Carolina, and FAU. He should open the eyes of even the common fan this season as Columbus competes for their third title in four seasons.

Kimari Robinson, 2023, Cornerback, St. Thomas Aquinas

Plays for a national power? Check. Double-digit offers? Check. Power 5 frame AND film? Check.

It is a mystery how Robinson (5’11 175) has stayed under the radar when people talk about the best corners, not just in South Florida, but the state. He allowed less than five catches on the year and has added mass to his frame that looks like he has been introduced to a college weight room. Two four-star safeties roaming the top of the Aquinas defense will allow for opportunities to produce and jump in the spotlight.

Vincent Shavers, 2024, Linebacker, Monsignor Pace

Shavers (6’1 210) is part of a 2024 group of Miami Gardens Ravens, an elite little league program, that includes several of the best players in the country.

Despite a solid offer sheet, recent recruiting rankings have failed to give respect to this elite 2nd-level athlete. Coming off a 2021 season with 69 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and eight sacks, you would think his star power would compare to his peers. His special skillset and likeliness at yet another big-time season foreshadow a rise in respect in recruiting circles.

Colton Heinrich, 2024, Tight End, Cardinal Gibbons

A great tight end calling South Florida home is a rarity, but the next blue-chip jumbo pass-catcher looks like he has arrived.

A 6’4 225-pound athlete, Heinrich earned first Team All-County honors and won the 4A state title with Cardinal Gibbons in 2021. His early success, along with a highlight-reel-worthy 7-on-7 season, has raised the expectations. He earned an offer from Howard where former Miami and Florida tight ends coach Larry Scott is now the head man. A season approaching 500 yards and 7+ touchdowns should have him closing in on double-digit FBS offers before Christmas time.

Denzel Johnson, 2024, Linebacker, Chaminade-Madonna

Johnson (5’11 205) is the epitome of the modern-day backer, playing with 4.6 40-yard dash speed and showcasing the versatile ability to play all three downs.

He has led the Lions in tackles the last two seasons and is yet another Miami Gardens Ravens product. A young captain for a championship squad and the potential for 400+ tackles in his prep career should have fans shaking their heads that he only has offers from Bowling Green and Syracuse.

Luke Moise, 2024, Offensive Lineman, Miami Central

The pattern of Miami Gardens Ravens products continues with Moise (6’3 270), a sophomore starter at left tackle, who arguably was the best lineman on a Central line that always has multiple D1 prospects.

The Rockets develop the trenches better than any school in the 305 and if Moise a 4-time state champ with a pedigree of Power 5 predecessors donning the green and white, he should end his career as the next great lineman to play on 95th Street.

Xavier Lucas, 2024, Safety, Deerfield Beach

A mass exodus of talent hit Deerfield Beach this offseason, but one Power 5 talent remains with 6’2, 189-pound free safety Xavier Lucas.

A plug and play starter as a sophomore, he had four interceptions despite competing for production with 2023 safety Harlem Howard, who led Broward County with nine interceptions of his own. The Deerfield staff raved about his work ethic and coachability as a young defensive back, but he has yet to receive an offer despite checking off every box. 2024 has several All-American level talent safeties – Lucas will finish off amongst the elite.

Frank Tucker is a contributor to the USA Today Florida Network. He is the founder of The Crib South Florida, which provides digital media coverage of high school football in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade County. Find The Crib on Twitter (@TheCribSouthFLA) and Instagram (@thecribsouthfl).