Commentary

Florida school boasts elite defenders

Originally Published: February 23, 2010
By Gerry Hamilton | ESPN recruiting

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- One of the most talented football programs on a yearly basis nationwide is Boyd Anderson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).

After producing 31 Division I players the past three years, including five-star safety and Under Armour All-American Demar Dorsey this past recruiting cycle, it stands to reason that the Cobras would have a hard time continuing to average more than 10 Division I prospects a year. A Friday visit to the ultra-talented school showed proof that couldn't be further from the truth. The high volume of college recruiters who make Boyd Anderson a priority will continue to flock to the 5A school for years to come in search of some of the top talent in the Southeast.

Not only is the 2011 class one that could produce double-digit Division I prospects, but the 2012 and 2013 classes are already drawing praise from head coach Mark James. James should know -- he has coached at Boyd Anderson the past four years and played for a stacked 1990 state championship team at Fort Lauderdale Dillard. That squad featured a number of Division I and NFL players, including Isaac Bruce and Frank Sanders.

"I think this junior class is one that is going to supersede the 2005, 2006 and 2007 classes," said James. "The one thing I love about this class is that there are already a lot of guys who are academically eligible. They are part of a group that we started testing [academically] as sophomores and the guys have benefited. We have over 20 D-IA offers ready for our kids and I think it will be a successful recruiting season for our kids,"

Along with the bevy of prospects in the junior class, some special young talents are emerging in the sophomore and freshman classes.

[+] EnlargeKurt Turene
Davide De Pas/ESPN.comKurt Turene has an offer from Bo Pelini's Cornhuskers.

"Probably the top guy in that class [2012] is Darren Williams," James said. "He's a sub-4.4 kid [in the 40-yard dash] that is going to be very special. He plays receiver and defensive back and will probably find his home at corner. He's just a really special athlete. We have a 6-foot-6 offensive tackle, Kameron Davis, who is going to be very special as well. We also have a 6-foot-7 freshman offensive lineman with hands the size of a watermelon. We have some very good young players here that will mix in with our senior class next season."

Hard-hitting defenders

The Cobras feature a number of elite defensive prospects who are some of the most physical players in the state. Linebacker Kent Turene (Fort Lauderdale), safety Brandon Butler (Fort Lauderdale) and defensive end Shaun Ward (Fort Lauderdale) are all impressive defenders with offers from some of the top schools in the country.

"Kent Turene is a linebacker and the anchor of our linebacking core along with Mike Brown, who has been compared to Sean Spence that starts for the University of Miami. Turene is smart as a whip and helps to manage our defense on the field," James said.

Turene, a 6-foot-2, 215-pounder, has offers from Nebraska, Illinois, Florida Atlantic and Florida International. The Cornhuskers are said to have the lead at this time.

"I've been offered by FIU, Nebraska, Illinois and a couple more," Turene said. "Miami, Florida, Michigan, Florida State are also recruiting me. There are a lot of schools really."

Turene has junior day invites from Florida and Florida State.

Safety Brandon Butler is a downhill, hard-hitting defensive back who stands out on Friday nights. Often times, he is making bone-crunching hits that leave the opponent on the ground for an extended period of time. According to James, the term "head hunter" applies.

"Butler is a head hunter type guy. He plays with so much intensity. He could play safety or linebacker at the next level. Florida State is recruiting him as a strong safety," James said.

The Seminoles are the odds-on favorite to land Butler with Miami (verbal offer) next on the list for the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder.

Defensive end Shaun Ward is a third defender who jumps out on video and in person. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder has first-step quickness and closes to the football with an aggressive burst. Miami has verbally offered.

"I hear I have offers, but don't know them," Ward said. "Miami, Georgia, Florida State, Purdue, Nebraska and a lot of other schools are recruiting me."

Ward
Davide De Pas for ESPN.comShaun Ward is a hybrid defensive prospect capable of playing a few positions.

Ward is being recruited as a defensive end and linebacker.

When talking about the physical players in the Cobras program, a fourth prospect is deserving of mention. Fullback prospect Brenton Newton (Fort Lauderdale) is a hard-nosed, team-first player with a nasty attitude on the field.

"Newton is a great team player. We had an injury to an offensive guard this year and he stepped in unselfishly from fullback. He played from the third game to the end of the season and did well enough to get honorable mention honors county wide. He'll play fullback on the next level," James said.

The 6-foot-1, 256-pounder is being recruited by a number of programs, with Wisconsin leading early on.

Physical cover corner

The saying is big things really do come in small packages. That rings true at Boyd Anderson. Harmon Brown (Fort Lauderdale) is not only one of the top corners in Florida, but he is also one of the top defenders, period. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound physical playmaker can do it all and has earned the reputation as the hardest worker in the program.

"Harmon Brown will be a four-year starter. He's the real deal and the hardest-working kid I know. He'll be a 5-9 kid that signs a D-I scholarship at an SEC level school. I think very highly of his work ethic. He's a great cover corner and had five interceptions last year. He's also a punt returner and kick returner. He scored twice on punt returns and once on a kick return. He is going to be a big time special teams guy for us this year," James said.

College programs have taken notice. Florida is said to be very interested with Miami and Florida State coming on. He is receiving interest from the entire SEC and most of the ACC.

[+] EnlargeHarmon Brown
Davide De PasHarmon Brown is the latest in a long line of gifted DBs to play at Boyd Anderson.

Elite receiver core

The pass-catchers on Boyd Anderson's roster boast size, strength, quickness, speed and playmaking ability. Jesse York (Fort Lauderdale) is the top playmaker of the group. He has ideal size, at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, with terrific ball skills, timing and a feel for the position. Simply put, he makes playing the position appear easy.

"[York is] a big-time receiver. He'll be the most highly recruited receiver in the area. He was [quarterback Dane James'] go-to receiver," James said.

Courtney Bynes (Fort Lauderdale) and Anthony Williams (Fort Lauderdale) join York as Division I receiver prospects. Bynes is the cousin of current Auburn standout Josh Bynes and one of the fastest players in the program.

"Courtney Bynes has a 3.6 GPA. He's a not only a great student, but a great leader at our school. He's on the leadership board. He's a 4.4 [40-yard dash] kid with good hands. He could play receiver or corner at the next level," James said.

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Byrnes has an offer on the table from Vanderbilt and is expected to commit to the Commodores in the near future.

Leadership at quarterback

Quarterback Dane James (Fort Lauderdale) is the heart and soul of the team. The son of head coach Mark James, Dane is the team's leader on the offensive side of the ball. The 6-foot, 175-pound signal-caller makes decisive and accurate throws.

"Dane James is a two-year starter. He's a very smart kid and grew up as a coach's son, obviously. He grew up watching film, has a good arm, makes smart decisions and had only two interceptions this past season. He doesn't make many mistakes and he is a leader," James said.

James has receiver offers from FAMU and SMU (verbal) with Maryland showing interest among others.

Boyd Anderson has six alums playing in the NFL, including Asante Samuel and Benny Sapp. In a few years, there is a good chance that one of the talented prospects in the 2011 class will carry on the tradition of NFL players from Boyd Anderson.

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