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Express bound for college stardom

MIAMI -- The South Florida Express has quickly become one of the top 7-on-7 programs in the Sunshine State. Three years into existence, the program, run by Brett Goetz, has featured some of the best players South Florida has to offer, including 2010 Under Armour All-Americans Lamarcus Joyner (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) and Demar Dorsey (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Boyd Anderson).

This spring's team is another squad made up of future stars at the collegiate level, with a focus on 2011 prospects but featuring some of the state's best in the 2012 class, including a name very familiar to recruiting followers.

"This group reminds me of the first year," Goetz said. "They are very humble and hungry. All of the guys like coming out and practicing. They have formed a bond. They enjoy competing against each other. Last year, we had a really good group of talented guys, but some 'me and I' guys. This group is close and humble."

Leading the way for this year's South Florida Express is quarterback Jerrard Randall (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade), outside linebacker Ryan Shazier (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation), safety Jeremy Cash (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation), and the elusive, explosive Tacoi Sumler (Miami/Columbus). All four feature a growing list of suitors from coast to coast and will be household names in short order.

Here is a look at some of the top players on the 24-man roster.

Quarterback

Jerrard Randall (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade): The 6-1, 185-pound Randall is one of the top athletes, pound for pound, in the Sunshine State's 2011 class. He is blessed with legit 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, a quick arm, a plus arm to fit balls into tight windows, and quick feet.

"Randall came on this year after he transferred to Chaminade," Goetz said. "I think he could be one of the top athletes in the state of Florida. That doesn't mean he isn't a quarterback, because he is. I just believe he is one of the top pure athletes in the state. He's got an unbelievable arm; he does need some coaching and wants to be coached. The tools he has are special."

Randall, who is working on reading defenses quicker and more consistently, has offers from Oregon, Florida State, Ohio State, Florida International, West Virginia and South Carolina. Florida is his favorite with Oregon second.

Another signal-caller for the South Florida Express is Imonni Carswell (Hallandale, Fla./Plantation). He is receiving interest from Connecticut, Wisconsin and Vanderbilt.

Receiver

The receivers on the squad are as good as one will find in 7-on-7. The group has a combination of straight-line speed, darting quickness, high-point ball skills and precise route-runners.

Teddy Bridgewater (Miami/Northwestern): Bridgewater has gained recognition for the last two years as a quarterback for the uber-talented Northwestern program, but he is working a lot at receiver with the Express. At receiver, Bridgewater flashed a similar skill set that makes him tough to tackle on Friday nights. He has the ability to start, stop, and make the first and sometimes second defender miss in space. Catching the ball is natural to him, even in crowd over the middle or in a high-point situation.

Bridgewater has offers from Miami, LSU, LSU and Florida along with interest from Georgia, Tennessee and a number of others. Quarterback is still the desired position for the 6-2, 175-pounder, but he is also open to a position change if he can play as a freshman.

Tacoi Sumler (Miami/Columbus): Sumler is the quickest and fastest player on the South Florida Express. He backed up that fact with his sizzling 4.33 and 4.35 40-yard dash times at the Under Armour combine in Davie, Fla. Every step and cut is stocked full of acceleration and burst creating instant separation.

"I had seen him play and heard great things about him, so it's not been a surprise how he has performed for us or at the combine. His ability is amazing he reminds us of Santana Moss. He's such a nice, humble kid that I really enjoy being around him." Goetz said.

Clemson, South Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, Florida State, Stanford, FIU, Tulane and Arkansas have made offers to the 5-8, 165-pound jet. Clemson is sitting in the pole position, and he plans to take unofficial visits to Clemson and South Carolina during spring break.

Sumler played his junior season at Guliver Prep but is now at Columbus.

Eli Rogers (Miami/Northwestern): Rogers is a great route-runner with a terrific feel for the game. He has starred at Northwestern for a while now, and his recruitment has begun to pick up in full force. Central Florida made an offer Feb. 21; Miami followed suit the next day.

A.J. Sebastiano (North Broward Prep): Another terrific route-runner, he will give up his body over the middle. The 6-foot, 181-pound Sebastiano is receiving interest from Illinois, Indiana and Boston College along with nearly a dozen others.

Another member of the receiving core is Caylin McBeth (Hialeah, Fla./American). Kansas State and Western Kentucky are among the programs showing interest early on.

Tight end

Carlos Carvajal (Hialeah, Fla.): Carvajal is an intriguing tight end prospect. Blessed with a 6-6, 215-pound frame and quickness off the line, the under-the-radar junior has a chance to be a highly recruited prospect with a spring and summer in the weight room.

Safety

While 7-on-7 is very limited in terms of contact, the group of safeties on the South Florida Express have made names for themselves as physical head-hunters in the secondary. Jeremy Cash (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation) is the headliner, but the talent runs deep.

Jeremy Cash: Cash is confident, brash and physical. That, along with his 6-foot, 185-pound frame, makes him one of the top defensive prospects in South Florida. Cash has offers from Nebraska, Louisville, Miami, Ohio State, Florida State and North Carolina, with the Hurricanes and Buckeyes on top.

Gerod Holliman (Miami/Southridge): Holliman is a rising junior who shows quick reactions and the ability to move well laterally. He has earned a reputation as a physical safety. He picked up his first offer Feb. 24, from Louisville, and is receiving interest from Ohio State, FSU, Kansas State, Miami and Florida. Holliman's uncle, David Holliman, played at Miami.

Nick North (Hollywood. Fla./McArthur): North, like Holliman, is an impressive-looking safety on the hoof at 6-foot, 186 pounds. He tested well at the Under Armour combine in Davie, Fla., with a 4.41 pro agility shuttle, 33.5-inch vertical and an impressive 15-reps of 185-pounds on the bench press. He is receiving interest from Florida, LSU, Florida State, Ole Miss and Miami, among others.

Jonathan Aiken (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade) is another talented safety prospect who is hearing from South Florida, Ohio State, Alabama and Florida among others. South Florida is on the verge of making an offer.

Cornerback

Jabari Gorman (Miami/Monsignor Pace): Gorman is quickly becoming of the most heavily recruited prospects in South Florida, with offers from Ole Miss, Tennessee, Miami, Wake Forest and LSU along with interest from Alabama. The 5-9, 164-pound Gorman showed his quickness and ability to change direction at a recent Under Armour combine with times of 4.44 in the pro agility shuttle and 7.28 in the L-cone. He also posted a 32½-inch vertical, which translated into good coverage at a Feb. 20 7-on-7 workout at Flamingo Park.

Andrew Johnson (Miami/Southridge): Johnson and Holliman will team up to provide Miami Southridge head coach Pat Burrows with top-notch secondary next season. Johnson is a pure cover corner with impressive ball skills. Texas Tech has made an offer as has Louisville, and Johnson is getting interest from the majority of the ACC and SEC programs in the region.

Another top corner prospect is Terrence Mitchell (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation). Mitchell has an offer from Purdue and interest from the region.

Linebacker

Ryan Shazier (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation): Shazier has made his name as a pass-rushing terror off the edge for Plantation, notching 19 sacks last season. His transformation into an outside linebacker is under way, and this spring is a first chance to test his ability to play in space, change direction, and use his quickness and pure speed to chase and cover, instead of exploding off the edge and closing on a quarterback.

The early returns were positive on back-to-back days at a 7-on-7 practice and at the Under Armour combine. Shazier has quickly shown the ability to both adapt and understand the position. He is receiving offers from around the country from the likes of Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Tennessee, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Texas Tech, Ole Miss, Louisville, Nebraska and South Florida. LSU is expected to join them in the near future.

Jerome Howard (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation) is another linebacker on the roster. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Howard is receiving interest from Central Florida and South Florida.

The Express also has a number of top 2012 prospects in receiver Avery Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla./Blanch Ely), corner Tracy Howard (Miramar, Fla.), defensive back Deon Bush (Miami/Columbus) and running back Earnest Freeman (Miami/Carol City).

Johnson is the young brother of LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. He starred at the Feb. 21 Under Armour combine at the Miami Dolphins indoor facility clocking a 4.4 40 at 6-foot-2, 176 pounds.

Gerry Hamilton has covered recruiting in Texas and the Southwest for more than a decade. He can be reached at espngerry@yahoo.com.