CanesInSight HS Tour: Booker T. Washington

CanesInSight HS Tour: Booker T. Washington

Peter Ariz
Peter Ariz
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be visiting some of the top programs in South Florida to give you guys an inside look at some of the team's top prospects, the program's overall philosophies, and what to expect for the season. The first stop on the tour was Booker T. Washington High School, the talent-rich program who won the 4A state title last season and is poised to repeat this year.


**The first thing you notice about the Tornadoes practice routine is the fast tempo the coaches strive to get their players working at. The pace is nonstop. The Tornadoes have a mantra, "Washington is faster," and they do not stray from that philosophy even as far as practice goes. Offensive Coordinator Tim "Ice" Harris, Jr. urged his group today by saying, "It's gotta be a track meet." When I spoke to Harris, Jr., he again stressed the importance of their uptempo style due to the fact that they aren't the "biggest" so they have to use their speed.

**A couple more interesting notes from a discussion I had with Harris, Jr.:
---He said that Chad Thomas has been utilized almost primarily as a defensive tackle during his high school career, which is something that not many people know about. Harris, Jr. says that he has interestingly been more effective inside than as an end, and he attributes that to his quickness. There aren't many guards at the high school level who can handle 6'5", 235-pounds of speed and power coming at them.

---I asked him for a guy on his offense who could really break out and he pointed towards 2015 WR Vaquan Smalls. Smalls is a 6'3" receiver who needs some polishing up, but all the physical tools are there. Smalls is a runner, hurdler, and long jumper on the famed Booker T. Washington track team. Look for him to really emerge this season as his touches will climb. I see him as a red zone touchdown-maker in this offense. I had heard buzz about Smalls in the offseason, but this was the first time I saw him up close and he passes the eye test.

---Harris, Jr. loves the offensive line group he has and is encouraged by its youth. Despite the loss of Denver Kirkland, he seemed very confident that this will be a strength of the team.

---One more note: Some of you were asking about Treon Harris and the possibility of Miami flipping him from Florida State, who has offered him at quarterback. I asked Ice Jr. how solid Treon's commitment to the 'Noles was, and he told me it was solid. I followed up by asking him if he thought there was any chance Miami could get back into it for his brother, and he responded, "As a quarterback?..." with a big smile on his face.

**Miami Beach transfer LB James King (2015) really caught my attention. At about 6'2", 210-pounds, King has great length with a frame that has a lot of room to add weight. You can tell he's a younger kid as well, so as he continues to mature over the next two years, he will be physically ready for the college level. I have never seen him in live game action, but he looked fluid and should benefit from an extremely strong line in front of him.

**2014 WR Lamar Parker (WVU commit) is going to be a guy who lights it up in the Dana Holgorsen Air Raid offense. He's a guy Miami might have taken a look at if their sights weren't set on some of these bigger fish already. Perfect slot guy.

Now let's take a look at some Miami-specific targets

Demetrius Jackson
---The Miami commit is one of the most interesting stories in this recruiting class. By now, most people know that Jackson is a guy who just starting playing football back in the spring, but showed such incredible flashes of potential that Miami offered. I had seen Jackson's spring highlights, but wanted to get a closer look today. Wow, was I impressed. His athleticism and measurables were a given, but if he makes the types of plays during the season that he was making in practice today, he will be rated a 4-star prospect by the end of the process.

---Jackson's get-off is quick and ferocious, which is a complete surprise considering he's made the transition to the football field so recently. While he is still working on technique, his basketball skills are evident. He batted down multiple balls and recorded a sack during situational work.

--Speaking to someone who has seen Jackson play during his basketball career, they described him as a player who just physically dominated the game. According to this person, Jackson would manhandle much taller and bigger players through the wirey strength he possesses. He is known as a rebounder, defender, and shot-blocker on the basketball court, which all translates well to the football field.

---I had a chance to speak with Demetrius and asked him about the first few days of practice.

"It's been a grind, man, I've been tired. I've been getting a lot more comfortable with the sport, though and I'm just ready for the season to start."

Jackson has mentioned multiple times about his relationship with fellow line mate Chad Thomas.

"Our relationship is getting stronger each and everyday because it's a brotherhood on that defense so we stick together. We're just getting better everyday, getting stronger and staying on each other."

How do his skills on the basketball court transition to the football field?

"I'm athletic and I can jump high so that forces quarterbacks to throw the ball really high and it will give them a hard time seeing the field. I also have good footwork from basketball."

At first, Jackson was unsure about his decision to play football. Now, he's all in.

"It was the right choice because it's paying for my education. I can have fun while I'm in school and hopefully get to the next level, but I'm 100% in. I'm loving it."

A few weeks ago Jackson tweeted that he would be making his "final" decision after the season. Has his Miami choice been solidified recently?

"Yes. I have players from my own team so it feels like home."

Nigel Bethel
---Bethel is a player who brings it every day and we know what he brings to the table. He's a competitor and despite his smaller stature, he's physical and that's his game. I still see him as a perimeter corner as opposed to a slot guy because his type of speed is better suited for that spot.

---Quotes from Bethel:

On recruiting for Miami
"Before camp started I was talking to Johnnie Dixon and Ermon Lane. They told me they liked the program and we're their number one school, but they don't know if they want to stay in Miami. Since the season has started, I've just been focusing on my team."

On his goals for the season
"My personal goal is just to blanket every receiver I face. I don't really care about the stats, I just want to blanket them. As a team goal, I just want a National Championship and to run the table on everyone."

On his family's reaction when he committed
"My mom and dad were very happy because they thought I was going elsewhere so they were really excited. My little brothers were very happy and they're ready to see me play in that Miami Hurricanes uniform."

Chad Thomas
---Thomas is another prospect who we know what his ceiling is and we know the physical gifts he possesses, but I was very encouraged by what I saw from him as a leader today. It's obvious that he is stepping up now as a Senior and trying to be more vocal. He is not only the unquestioned leader of the defense, but maybe the entire team. You can tell that the younger guys truly respect and appreciate him. He was running warmups with the defensive line and directing the younger players.

--Thomas will be attending Booker T this year for school, as opposed to the New World School of Arts.

---Chad looks noticeably bigger from the times I've seen him in the offseason. His upper body is filling out very nicely and I expect his lower half to really take a big jump when he gets into the college weight room.

The Tornadoes have been named the preseason number one team in the country by USA Today. How is Chad making sure the team doesn't get ahead of themselves?

"Like coach says, don't work on the stuff we're already good at. Work on all the stuff we're bad at and when we mess up, pay attention to that."

Thomas mentoring Jackson on the football field is sort of his way to repay him. Why is that?

"When I started playing basketball, Demetrius showed me stuff and he went hard on me so when it came to football I knew I had to do the same thing for him by going hard on him and teaching him."

How special does Chad think that tandem can be?

"Real special. They gon' feel us. Every team gon' feel us."

2016 RB Mark Walton
---Walton is a prospect who is almost a folk legend of sorts. Despite not being a primary ball carrier last season and having to wait his turn as a younger player, he already holds offers from the likes of Miami, Alabama, Florida State, and West Virginia.

---Walton will put up huge numbers this season and will have big lanes to run through due to the spread attack that the team employs. Walton is a freak, who's already weighing about 190 pounds at 5'10", while running a 4.4. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be next up in the line of great South Florida running back prospects.

---The good news for Miami fans? It already seems like Walton could be Duke Johnson-esque in his attitude towards recruiting.

"I feel like committing to Miami is the best spot for me. Growing up loving Miami and now getting the opportunity to go to Miami is just wild."

What impact do his three teammates being committed to Miami have on him?

"Great guys over on the other side of the ball in Chad Thomas, Demetrius Jackson, and Nigel Bethel. It's just more comfortable for me to go over there and finish my college career over there."

Hurlie Brown has been on fire since he's taken over the running backs coach position earlier this year. Walton could extend Brown's hot streak.

"Coach Hurlie Brown and Coach Barrow are recruiting me. When I went to the camp, they were straight up with me. They told me to just keep grinding as a young player out there."

I also had a great conversation with Booker T. Washington Defensive Line/Strength and Conditioning Coach Pierre Senatus.

Q: Talk about the group of guys you have right now and what are your expectations for them?
Coach Senatus: It's a phenomenal group of young men and the sky is the limit as far as their abilities go. As high school players, I think they have so much more to accomplish. They're still maturing and everyday we see progress in the weight room and academically. When they come on this football field, you have Chad Thomas, Demetrius Jackson, Tevin Evans, and Tyrone Robinson as the starting four. Then you have guys like Osvelt Joseph, Jordan Ingram, and a young guy like Andre Duncan who are all going to help. So we have a great core who we think can just take over a game. Our goal is to have a line who can be the best in the nation. It's not about sacks or tackles for loss, it's about being solid and technically sound.

Q: Talk about Chad's growth as a player. Everyone has talked about his potential for years, but it seems like he's putting it all together now.
Coach Senatus: The maturation process has been incredible. His intelligence is special. He has a musical intelligence at New World School of Arts, but he's coming into the building this year so music has always been a passion along with academics and also balancing athletics so now he's focusing more this summer on solely athletics so you're now seeing that progression. Rivals defensive line camp MVP, Nike camp up at Barry defensive line MVP, out in Oregon with every defensive player in the country he goes and gets MVP, goes to Florida State and dominates it, Friday Night Lights as a junior and dominates it, University of Miami defensive line MVP, Alabama he goes and gets an offer, so his best football is still in front of him. He's growing in the weight room and since I'm the strength and conditioning coach I get to see him lift. His olympic lifts, his power, his stamina, his agility, what he does in ploy, his agility stations, his running, his speed is all still developing with him and he's such a passionate worker that will call me to work out after practice. He comes in early for meetings. He has great character so the best is still way out in front of him. I've seen guys and realized they've kind of maxed out at the high school level after you see them for two or three years in college, but this young man has so much ceiling in front of him and he's still growing in height, he's still growing into his shoulder pads, he's still lean and he's a solid 235. Coach Harris is a track philosophy coach with our tempo of practice and even our meetings are so fast-paced so the metabolism is burning at such a high level. When he gets into a real nutrition instruction system, his muscle gain is going to be phenomenal. He may not put on 30 or 40 pounds, but he's going to put on 20 or 30 pounds of great muscle. We monitor their body fat percentage and he's in the low single digits. He's just going to be so special at the next level.

Q: What have you seen from Demetrius in his transition from basketball to football?
Coach Senatus: In the short amount of time just having him in the spring and seeing how he's soaking it all up, learning escapes, learning the game of football, and the grind of Booker T. Washington he has just been broadening his scope. He lights up on the field and in the meeting room when a guest speaker is in there. He has the same energy that he has on the field. When you see him on the edge as an anchor end or a play side end, he takes away the sky with his wingspan and explosiveness with his basketball instincts. He has a great get-off, but he is continuing to develop it with his speed. He doesn't even have a favorite move. Some guys are speed guys, some are power, some are power-to-speed, some guys are bull guys, but he doesn't have a clue yet. One play he'll bull a guy, the next play he'll run right by a guy, the next play he run right through them and jump into the sky and knock the ball down. He's starting really to understand how to play the defensive end position.

Q: When I've talked to Coach Harris, he said Demetrius could be kind of like a Dion Jordan. Do you agree with that?
Coach Senatus:: Oh, absolutely. Our groups in the weight room are based off their maxes and he's right below Chad. He's made the biggest gain right now in the weight room. His 225 reps went from 2-3 to almost double digit in a matter of two months. He's not even a guy who is able to work out everyday and eat right so being in this community and adding that much strength in this amount of time is something that I'm really proud of him because he's worked so hard on getting stronger. He's a guy that has that Dion Jordan, but you hate to compare guys because they're their own players, but he really has a variety of capabilities.

**I will be posting a slideshow of pictures tomorrow and shout out to Burr who contributed to this report.

Comments (47)

I click like first before I started reading (like a cover charge)
Pete, you think it will be a wise investment for Miami to get Treon Harris on board as a QB?

who knows the kid may surprise everyone. I mean he could end up being bette than AE.
Im more excited to see Jackson then ever because the more I think of it he can be an incredible athlete and just show some great moments and with coaching and a year of jsut working out here he can be a monster
You ppl might think im crazy but Jackson > Thomas
Killed it.....

Crazy i was @ Miramar today and saw them out there..i should of got a look..but then i thought CAM UNDERWOOD would have it sewed up anyway.

I like Booker t's Program....they develop solid guys that head into college and progress. I really cant name a guy that straight up bust from there...even Davon Johnson's were quality students and he turned it around last year. Thearon Collier had he stayed @ UM was a player..Quinton Dunbar is solid up @ UF.

Its crazy that the sky is the limit for thomas and Jackson. They both down the road could be 6'4-6'5 250-260 pd rush ends. Chad is basically unblockable on the high school level in a one on one level...and Jackson just off of his spring game seems to be a problem for offenses..dude knock down like 3 passes in the spring games...and he is just out there like a chicken with its head cu toff. After his redshirt year...he literally could be like a Dion Jordan...because he has that initial burst you usually dont see in B-Ball guys..they call it fast-twitch.

Like ive stated before im almost as excited to se etheir game with Norcross as i am to see us vs FAU. Its starting to feel like when MNW went out to TX annd beat that team....Each of our BTW recruits will be going against div 1 guys from Norcross.

Lamar Parker is a sleeper....dude consistently beats Nigel Bethel who is a blanket...WVU just stole one from Louisville, FSU in my opinion.
Great stuff, Pete. Well worth staying up for. They all seem real solid to Miami and that Walton news has got me hyped for the future too.
Interesting commits nigel bethel said about lane and Dixon
"you have to pay the troll toll, to get in to this boyssole"
First time poster (on all sites) - long time follower (observer) on all of the []_[] sites for at least 7-10 yrs.

This was one of the better local reports of a school I have ever read.

I also want to say thanks a lot to some of the normal posters - there are probably a lot of people like me who don't post but appreciate insight.

Thank you Pete!

Die Hard Canefanmpls
Great idea Pete. Seriously. I don't go to other sites but I doubt they do **** like this. Props. Can't wait for the MNW and Central installments. I'm sure there's a Miramar one too.
Booker T has a chance to win the national title. They have the same things MNW had-- experience, a marquee OOS opponent and a quarterback.