Where do Florida, Florida State and Miami’s recruiting territory converge?
Right over Palm Beach County.
County schools have sent star players to all three of the state’s traditional powerhouse programs, and with the rise of the state’s newer teams — Florida Atlantic, Central Florida and South Florida — the options for local players to continue their careers are only getting better.
“That’s amazing to me,” Pahokee junior defensive end Latarie Kinsler said Saturday at Miami Dolphins High School Media Day at Hard Rock Stadium. “I could stay home and still pursue my dream while I’m close to my family.”
Kinsler is not planning to stay home — he’s committed to Louisville. But he holds offers from Florida Atlantic, Central Florida and Miami, and said Florida is his dream school.
“Miami, I like their history, they have a history with defensive linemen … so Miami will always be right there in my head,” Kinsler said. “I have an offer from UCF, too, but I haven’t really been in contact with them much. But that’s a good school.
“Florida will always be my dream school. Me and Ja’tarie (Washington, Pahokee running back), since we were babies, we always talked about playing together at the University of Florida. And FSU is a great program. I visited it and I liked it.”
In Palm Beach County’s 2019 class, two players are committed to Florida State: Palm Beach Central defensive back Akeem Dent and American Heritage offensive lineman Michael Morris. No players are committed to Florida, Miami, Central Florida or South Florida — yet.
Lane Kiffin’s FAU Owls lead the way with four Palm Beach County commits: Palm Beach Lakes’ Eldridge Franklin and Dwyer’s Antavious Lane, James Meeks and Gio Richardson.
“It’s good to see (those players) getting offers and doing well,” Morris said. “I feel like they’re overlooked and no one really looks at them as much as they should. So it’s just a blessing that someone sees their talent.”
Morris, who is No. 4 on the Post’s Big Board and a four-star prospect according to 247Sports’ composite ranking, has been committed to Florida State since he was a freshman. He stuck with his commitment after coach Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M.
Dent, who is No. 1 on the Post’s Big Board and a five-star prospect, has been committed to FSU since July 2017, also riding out Fisher’s departure. But both have checked out the other programs in the state.
“You can’t go wrong,” Morris said.
In between Dent and Morris on the Big Board are the county’s top two undecided prospects: Wellington’s Mark-Antony Richards and Benjamin’s Kaiir Elam. Richards holds offers from Florida, Miami and many out-of-state programs. He has an obvious tie to Miami — his brother, Ahmmon, is a star wide receiver there.
Richards said being from South Florida, where major programs get top players, inspires him to be a better player.
“I’m from Wellington, so you see all these guys in Belle Glade going big, going to Florida State, going to Miami, you see them going to the NFL. It kind of gives you hope that I can possibly get there one day,” he said. “Being from this area, it just makes me want to grind harder to get to where I want to be in life.”
Elam also has a family tie to a major in-state program. His uncle, Matt Elam, played for the Gators from 2010 to 2012.
The Benjamin star said he doesn’t take schools’ reputations into account much.
“I don’t pay attention too much to logos,” he said, “but what can the school do for me? If I go there, when can I play? How can I get developed? How will it set me up after football?”
Elam would be a centerpiece for a first full class for either Florida’s Dan Mullen or Florida State’s Willie Taggart.
“I want to see what they do,” Elam said. “I’m a big fan of both of them, coach Taggart and coach Mullen. I just to want to see them do well.”