Kemar Downer has played two years of football since graduating from Palm Beach Central in 2015.
The one-time high school quarterback spent his freshman year at Florida Atlantic, then transferred to Football Championship Subdivision South Dakota for his sophomore year. With his junior year coming up, he plans to spend his remaining college football time with the fledgling Keiser Seahawks, joining the program along with more than two dozen future teammates at a signing ceremony at the school’s West Palm Beach campus Monday night.
“It feels great to be back in Palm Beach,” Downer said. “It’s right in my own backyard. The thing coach (Doug) Socha has with this program — this upcoming program — next year, 2018, is going to be crazy. There’s going to be a lot of talented kids from Palm Beach.”
When the Seahawks take the field in 2018, Downer will be a redshirt junior and likely will have more experience than most players, many of whom will be playing their first college game as redshirt freshmen. With that, Socha expects the defensive back to be a team leader.
“We’ve had that discussion several times. Him coming here, that’s part of the deal,” Socha said. “You’ve got to be a leader. You know how to go to college, you know how to achieve in the classroom, you know how to manage your time as a college athlete. You’ve got to bring that to our locker room and on this campus.”
Downer, who 247Sports rated a three-star prospect when he graduated high school, headlined the 30-player class, bringing the total number of Keiser signees to 54. Eighteen of the players who signed Monday are from Palm Beach County schools, highlighting the recruiting pipeline Socha is trying to build to his new program.
“I promised that was going to be our focus,” Socha said. “A high percentage of our signees are Palm Beach County kids, and that’s the way it’s going to be. … There’s a ton of talent here.”
Several high school coaches attended Monday’s signing ceremony, including Park Vista’s Brian Dodds, Palm Beach Lakes’ Al Shipman and Wellington’s Thomas Abel, all of whom had players sign.
“Coach Socha, you could tell he’s really, really focused on building this program,” Dodds said. “He’s in constant communication with me and I’m sure he did that with all the other high school coaches. He’s very good at what he does, and he’s an outstanding football coach. This program, I think, is going to be a very solid program.”
Socha already has enough players for an NFL-sized roster, but in his eyes, he is still in the beginning stages of building the Seahawks into a competitive NAIA team.
“We’re not finished yet,” Socha said. “But we feel like we’ve got a good foundation.”
Players Signed (Palm Beach County Players in bold)
Logan Wakefield, American Heritage
Corey Lamy, Atlantic
Luckaad Dorsainvil, Atlantic
Zander Bernard, Boynton Beach
Dante Trott, Boynton Beach
Donovan Hinds, Coral Springs
Alesandro Cantillo, Miami-Ferguson
Bradlee Medlin, Fort Pierce Central
Lounceny Keita, Naples-Gulf Coast
Rasheed Lowe, Naples-Gulf Coast
Trey Prater, Naples-Gulf Coast
Jinnsi Rosemond, Naples-Gulf Coast
Pedro Vazquez, Hollywood Hills
Kade Glenn, Jensen Beach
Marcellino Charles, Naples
Kemar Downer, Palm Beach Central
Anthony Lewis, Palm Beach Gardens
Quientavious Bean, Palm Beach Lakes
Steve Norton, Palm Beach Lakes
Marshall Morackis, Park Vista
Jonathan Santos, Park Vista
Jeremiah Guillaume, Santaluces
Victor Hollis, Santaluces
Jermaine Wilson, Pembroke Pines-Somerset Academy
Leonard Woods, Suncoast
Isaac Adonis, Wellington
Cameron Allen, Wellington
Sage Chen Young, Wellington
Shavon Taylor, West Boca Raton
Evan Hogan, Wesley Chapel-Wiregrass Ranch