MIAMI -- It must be combine season. The NFL Combine is underway in Indianapolis and the Nike Football SPARQ Combine tour continues this weekend in the Sunshine State. The first of this weekend's two stops in Florida is the fertile recruiting ground of Miami, home to some of the nation's finest skill players. This Saturday's event will feature some of the top local talent from the tri-county area of Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach. Last year's combine saw two athletes post SPARQ Ratings over 100 en route to being invited to Nike Football's "The Opening."
Booker T. Washington (Miami) LB/DE Matthew Thomas is an offensive coordinator's worst nightmare. Thomas is a freak of an athlete who regularly disrupts opposing offenses and strikes fear into ball carriers and quarterbacks alike. At last year's Nike Combine in Miami, the ESPNU Watch List prospect posted an impressive 4.68 40-yard dash and finished with an 84.54 SPARQ Rating. On the gridiron this past fall, he racked up 117 tackles and 13 sacks while leading his team to a Class 4A state runner-up finish. The first team all-state selection sports offers from Alabama, Florida State, Miami, and West Virginia among others. He told ESPNHS recently, "I'm not in a hurry when it comes to recruiting. I don't plan on doing any junior days at this time".
American Heritage (Delray Beach, Fla.) running back Greg Bryant is one of the top talents set to test at the Miami event. Bryant is a productive back capable of wearing down a defense with his physical running style. He is the prototypical son of a coach and has a high football IQ. The 5-foot-10, 196-pounder capped off his 2,176-yard junior season this past fall with a 243-yard performance in a 30-3 win over Madison County in the Class 3A state championship. An ESPNU Watch List prospect, Bryant holds over 20 offers and is one of the top backs in the talent-rich region.
While he's not the biggest guy on the field at 5-foot-7 and 162-pounds, Glades Central (Belle Glade, Fla.) athlete William Likely is an elite all-around player. Likely has started since his freshman season and has been an impact player from the first snap. He led his team in tackles in the Class 3A state championship game during his first year on varsity. Last fall, he made SportsCenter's Top Plays with a 99-yard kickoff return for a score in a nationally televised ESPN Labor Day game against perennial power Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.). It's that type of playmaking ability that allowed him to capture the Florida Gatorade Player of the Year award as a junior.
Jamal Carter of Southridge (Miami) has the ideal tools for a free safety. Carter shows great range and body control and is dangerous in the return game and is a difference maker on special teams. On the recruiting front, he has seven offers, featuring Florida, Florida State and Miami. It could be an in-state race to see who lands the natural athlete out of Dade County.
Plantation (Fla.) defensive back Sojourn Shelton is another ESPNU Watch List talent who will be in attendance on Saturday. The Florida State commit has been busy this offseason attending multiple events and refining his cover skills. Shelton was a Sun-Sentinel Honorable Mention All-Broward County last fall. Although he committed early to the Seminoles, other teams are still showing strong interest.
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