January 11, 2012

South Florida Imports All-Star Team

MORE: Hokies find another CB in Miami's backyard

Alabama and LSU have become dominant programs for a number of factors. Perhaps the biggest: Each has been able to keep its home-grown stars home.

Like most programs, Miami tries the same approach.

But there are so many star recruits in South Florida that many talented ones are forced to leave home to find playing time.

How many?

Here's an all-star team made up solely of players from South Florida who left the state to play college football.

When making up this team, we considered players from Broward, Collier, Dade, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Monroe and Palm Beach counties.

OFFENSE
QB Denard Robinson, Michigan
Particulars: 6-0/195, Jr.; Deerfield Beach
The buzz: Robinson's speed and versatility has helped him earn a reputation as one of the nation's most electrifying players. He's the fourth player in NCAA history to gain 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards twice in his career. His 1,702 rushing yards in 2010 were the most ever by an FBS quarterback. Other south Florida quarterbacks who have enjoyed success out of state include West Virginia's Geno Smith (Miramar) and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater (Miami Northwestern).

RB Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
Particulars: 5-10/205, R-Fr.; Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas
The buzz: After tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last year and missing the entire 2010 season, Bernard bounced back this fall and rushed for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns to earn first-team all-ACC honors.

RB Branden Oliver, Buffalo
Particulars: 5-8/200, Soph.; Miami Southridge
The buzz: Oliver, a cousin of former University of Miami star receiver Roscoe Parrish, rushed for 1,395 yards and 13 touchdowns this year. He ran for 495 yards over his last three games, including a 235-yard effort against Akron.

WR Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
Particulars: 5-10/190, Soph.; Miramar
The buzz: Bailey caught 72 passes for 1,279 yards and 12 touchdowns to earn second-team all-Big East honors this season. He accumulated over 100 receiving yards seven times in one eight-game stretch. Bailey scored two touchdowns each against Connecticut and Louisville, and he caught eight passes for 115 yards and a touchdown against LSU's formidable secondary.

WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Particulars: 6-1/200, Fr.; South Fort Myers
The buzz: Watkins, the Yahoo Sports national freshman of the year, earned first-team All-America honors from The Associated Press. His 2,282 all-purpose yards this season were the second-highest total in ACC history. He caught 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns this year.

TE Nick Provo, Syracuse
Particulars: 6-4/249, Sr.; Greenacres John I. Leonard
The buzz: Provo set Syracuse school records for receptions by a tight end in a season (51) and career (92). He caught a team-high seven touchdown passes this season to earn first-team all-Big East honors. Provo was one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, given annually to the nation's best tight end.

T Mike Matulis, South Carolina
Particulars: 6-5/274, Fr.; Lake Worth Park Vista
The buzz: This former three-star recruit made five starts as a true freshman while helping South Carolina post its first 11-win season. He made one start at left tackle and started at right tackle each of the last four games, including the Gamecocks' Capital One Bowl victory over Nebraska.

T Delano Moore, Arkansas State
Particulars: 6-5/305, Sr.; Sunrise Piper
The buzz: Moore didn't become a full-time starter until this season as a fifth-year senior, but his patience was rewarded as he earned second-team all-Sun Belt honors. His presence helped Arkansas State win the Sun Belt title while leading the conference in points and yards per game.

G Joe Looney, Wake Forest
Particulars: 6-3/320, Sr.; Lake Worth
The buzz: Looney made 41 career starts and was a fixture in Wake Forest's starting lineup at left guard the last three seasons. Looney was a second-team all-ACC selection this season.

G John Miller, Louisville
Particulars: 6-2/304, Fr.; Miami Central
The buzz: Miller, a former three-star recruit, made 10 starts as a true freshman despite missing two games with an ankle injury. Miller was one of 11 Miami residents on Louisville's roster this season.

C Brian Moore, Duke
Particulars: 6-2/285, Jr.; Miami Ransom Everglades
The buzz: Moore started every game at right guard for Duke in 2009 and 2010 before moving to center this fall. Injuries limited him to only three starts this season. Although Moore missed most of the season, Duke's lineup still had a South Florida flavor. Duke's top two receivers were former Miami Gulliver teammates Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner. Weston Cypress Bay grad Austin Gamble was a starting linebacker.

DEFENSE
E Corey Lemonier, Auburn
Particulars: 6-4/240, Soph.; Hialeah
The buzz: Lemonier was a first-team all-SEC pick by the league's coaches and was a second-team all-conference selection by The Associated Press. He recorded 47 tackles - 13 for loss - and 9 sacks. He delivered two sacks each against Florida and Georgia.

E Aaron Lynch, Notre Dame
Particulars: 6-6/265, Fr.; Cape Coral Island Coast
The buzz: Rated as the No. 28 overall prospect in the 2011 recruiting class, Lynch lived up to his considerable billing by recording a team-high 5 sacks as a true freshman. He had six quarterback pressures in a victory over Michigan State and recorded 1 sacks in a Champs Sports Bowl loss to Florida State.

T Justin Francis, Rutgers
Particulars: 6-4/275, Sr.; Miramar
The buzz: Francis had a breakout season as a fifth-year senior. He recorded 64 tackles - 13 for loss - and a team-high 6 sacks. Francis also broke up five passes and blocked three kicks. He delivered four tackles for loss and two sacks in a 20-17 victory over USF.

T Twyon Martin, Connecticut
Particulars: 6-2/273, Sr.; Parkland Douglas
The buzz: Martin was a four-year starter at Connecticut who recorded 40 tackles - 9 for loss - and 3 sacks this season. He closed his career with 26 tackles for loss and 12 sacks.

LB Lavonte David, Nebraska
Particulars: 6-1/225, Sr.; Miami Northwestern
The buzz: After spending two seasons at Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, David developed into one of the nation's top linebackers at Nebraska. He set a school single-season record with 152 tackles in 2010 and followed that up by compiling 133 tackles this season. David was named a second-team All-American by The Associated Press each of the last two years.

LB Etienne Sabino, Ohio State
Particulars: 6-3/245, Jr.; Miami Dr. Krop
The buzz: Sabino made five starts this season and ranked fifth on his team with 62 tackles. His 6 tackles for loss ranked third among all Ohio State players. He delivered two tackles behind the line of scrimmage in a 24-17 Gator Bowl loss to Florida.

LB Ronnie Thornton, Southern Miss
Particulars: 6-3/240, Sr.; Miami Killian
The buzz: Thornton delivered a team-high 111 tackles this season in his second year as a starter. He was an honorable mention all-Conference USA selection. He made 14 tackles and scored on a 26-yard interception return as Southern Mississippi upset Houston 49-28 in the Conference USA championship game.

CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech
Particulars: 5-10/171, Jr.; Delray Beach Atlantic
The buzz: Hosley led all FBS players with nine interceptions in 2010 and earned second-team All-America honors from The Associated Press. He picked off three more passes this season and was a second-team all-ACC selection.

CB Merrill Noel, Wake Forest
Particulars: 5-10/180, R-Fr.; Pahokee
The buzz: Noel was named the ACC defensive rookie of the year this season. The Rivals.com Freshman All-America first-team selection compiled 66 tackles, two interceptions and 19 pass breakups. He tied for second place among all FBS players nationwide with 1.62 passes defended per game.

S Aaron Henry, Wisconsin
Particulars: 6-0/210, Sr.; Immokalee
The buzz: Henry earned first-team all-Big Ten honors from the league's coaches this season after being a second-team selection in 2010. He collected 67 tackles and four interceptions as a fifth-year senior. He made nine tackles in a Big Ten championship game victory over Michigan State and picked off a pass in a Rose Bowl loss to Oregon.

S Eain Smith, West Virginia
Particulars: 5-11/202, Sr.; Hollywood Chaminade Madonna
The buzz: Smith delivered 75 tackles, forced two fumbles and picked off a pass to earn second-team all-Big East honors this season. He recorded a career-high 12 tackles - including 11 solos - in West Virginia's Orange Bowl rout of Clemson.

SPECIAL TEAMS
K Blair Walsh, Georgia
Particulars: 5-10/192, Sr.; Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons
The buzz: Walsh closed his college career with an SEC-record 412 career points, which ranks second in FBS history. Although he went just 21-of-35 on field-goal attempts in a disappointing senior season, Walsh was a Lou Groza Award finalist in 2009 and earned first-team all-SEC honors from the league's coaches in 2010.

P Pat O'Donnell, Cincinnati
Particulars: 6-5/217, Jr.; Wellington Palm Beach Central
The buzz: O'Donnell averaged 43.8 yards per punt this season and placed 17 of his 63 attempts inside the opponent's 20-yard line. He led the Big East in punting average and earned first-team all-conference honors.




 

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