Trio of local HS football stars invited to prestigious Nike camp


Before they face off against each other on local high school fields this fall — and potentially in front of tens of thousands at college stadiums in the future — three of Palm Beach County’s top football players will get a taste of the national stage.

Palm Beach Central defensive back Akeem Dent, Benjamin DB Kaiir Elam and wide receiver Mark-Antony Richards of Wellington are all heading to Nike’s “The Opening” camp and seven-on-seven tournament in Frisco, Texas, where they will compete against each other and some of the nation’s top prospects.

“We will rep 561,” Richards told The Post in a text message. “Not many have made it to this event and seen such a high stage, so we have to rep.”

Palm Beach County has sent three players to the prestigious camp’s finals only once before: Boynton Beach’s Jessamen Dunker, Angelo Jean-Louis of Palm Beach Central and Dwyer’s Patrick Miller all competed in 2011.

Other local players who have gone include Palm Beach Gardens’ VanDarius Cowan in 2016, Travis Homer of Oxbridge Academy in 2015, Palm Beach Gardens’ Tevon Coney in 2014, Kc McDermott of Palm Beach Central in 2013 and Glades Central’s Will Likely and Glades Day’s Kelvin Taylor in 2012.

“It’s a blessing,” Elam said. “Especially being able to compete and show off my skills in a sport I love.”

The Opening includes a seven-on-seven tournament. The three local players are all on separate teams.

If they did put all the Florida players together, Richards said, there would be “no reason we shouldn’t win it all.”

The three players are all big-time college prospects. Dent, who is No. 1 on the Post’s Big Board and is the No. 23 recruit in the country according to 247Sports, is a Florida State commit. Richards, who is No. 2 on the Big Board and No. 112 in the country, holders offers from Auburn, Florida, Miami and Ohio State, among others. Elam, No. 3 on the Big Board and 58th in the country, has offers from Florida, Georgia, Ohio State and more.

Richards said going up against top players at The Opening will help when the season begins.

“The fact that I go up against elite talent almost every week at my school, it does help,” he said. “I’ve gone against Devin Studstill, VanDarius Cowan, Amari Carter and more. And now I’m going against (Palm Beach Central) this year, and they have a (loaded) team with ranked guys.”

Benjamin doesn’t have either Palm Beach Central or Wellington on its schedule this year, but the Broncos and Wolverines are district and crosstown rivals who will duke it out again. If Dent and Richards line up against each other in Texas, it could be a preview of one of the upcoming season’s make-or-break battles.

“It’ll be a great matchup,” Richards said.



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