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December 31, 2013

QB Camp in South Fla. shows talent

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FT. LAUDERDALE - Cardinal Gibbons hosted the inaugural southfloridahighschoolsports.com (SFHHS.com)/Mastrole Passing Academy Super 7 QB Challenge, attended by many of the area's best signal-callers.

Juniors Torrance Gibson of American Heritage Plantation, Ryan Stanley of Flanagan, Deundre Pickett-White of Southwest, and sophomores Tyler Huntley of Hallandale and Kato Nelson of Champagnat Catholic.

In what is sure to be another solid addition into the offseason combine circuit, the Super 7 QB Challenge showcased the area's quarterbacks, along with their receiving counterparts who had a chance to impress.

Local recruiting expert Larry Blustein of the Miam Herald and SFHSSports.com were able to draw over 100 athletes on this Sunday morning, a number they hope will continue to grow behind this new combine event.

"We've been pushing this thing for over two months now," Blustein said. "We've done events before, but nothing that's showcased the quarterbacks. Usually, (South Florida) isn't a hotbed for quarterbacks, but something like this will help get it there because the kids will continue to get better.

"We had a couple of guys that were here that just won state titles, two kids from Jacksonville, three from Sarasota, and the kids poured in from Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach. With Mastrole working with EJ Manuel, his stock has risen and having Alex Collins (Arkansas) here running routes wasn't so bad, either.

"I think next year's event will be bigger and better. Those quarterbacks who didn't get up today and take this seriously, after they see all the coverage of the event and breakdowns of almost every kid here, I think athletes will make it a priority to be here next year."

Among all the stud quarterbacks who attended, freshman Todd Centeio of Royal Palm Beach bested them all, coming out of nowhere and suddenly putting himself on the map among the elite players in South Florida. Blustein commented on what impressed him most about the young quarterback.

"His poise is tremendous. He's 15 years old working against veterans who are playoff tested, kids his age usually tighten up, but he didn't. Centeio thrived when the pressure was on. He hit all his targets with velocity, he displayed good speed, and he did it with urgency, showing a ninth-grader can dominate events like this."

The Super 7 finalists included Nelson, Huntley, and Stanley, Jason Collins of Dillard, Buck Calvert of Chaminade Madonna, Greg LaStella of Calvary Christian, and Todd Centeio. Blustein shared what impressed him about a few of the other finalists.

"Nelson of Champagnat was impressive; his short game lends itself to the out patterns and the crossing routes, so his game is predicated on being accurate. Huntley also impressed me. They're both 2016 kids and they've already set the tempo down here. Both turned heads."

Blustein stated the talent at the position not to make the final group may have been just as impressive. "One of the top athletes in the country, Torrance Gibson, threw the ball 75 yards in the air today. Kole Stealy from North Broward Prep has great size. Jake Rizzo from St. Thomas Aquinas established himself today. Deudre Pickett-White of Southwest is extremely athletic and is learning how to become a better passer."

The perception that South Florida doesn't produce elite quarterbacks is changing, thanks in large part to two quarterbacks that played in huge games in Florida over the weekend.

"I think Teddy Bridgewater and Geno Smith are changing that. More kids are playing the position now instead of concentrating on becoming a corner or receiver. If we get into the quarterback market, schools down here wouldn't have to go anywhere (to recruit)."

Blustein battling Kidney failure

It's been well-publicized that Blustein has a kidney condition, polycystic kidney disease, and is in need of a transplant. He spoke about his current state of health and how he's handling the daily demands of his time.

"I'm doing okay, I'm looking for something positive to happen. There's still a lot of testing, and God willing we'll find someone who's compatible and it'll be smooth sailing," he said. "To be honest, it's kind of a struggle. But being out here, I forget about everything for five or six hours and these types of things help."

Blustein, a pioneer of college football recruiting coverage, owns a stellar reputation for promoting prep football players in Florida, including listing every available highlight film, recording and writing prospect interviews relaying the information to college coaches. But how does a prospect begin to get noticed and recruited? Blustein shared some advice to get prospects started.

"First of all, go to as many (camps and combines) as possible. Secondly, work as hard as you can and always understand that when you're not working, someone else is. I agree with that mindset. It may be overused, but it's true. Just look at the kids today who sacrificed their time to get better today."



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