Over 300 players put their skills to the test to earn a spot on the SFE7 team
BY PAT LAMMER | Correspondent
National Signing Day may still be more than two weeks away, but the focus of football recruiting is already starting to shift to the classes of 2015 and 2016.
Saturday, Brett Goetz and staff hosted the seventh annual tryouts for the South Florida Express 7-on-7 squad before a large contingent of local and national media at McArthur.
Three-hundred underclassmen prospects signed up for the showcase, with the top 75-100 standouts being invited back for Sunday’s final day of the two-day tryouts.
Class of 2016 wide receiver Sam Bruce, who will be playing at St. Thomas Aquinas in the fall after transferring from University School, is gunning to make the SF Express squad for the third consecutive year. Bruce was the only eighth-grader to play in the actual tournament two years ago.
The 5-foot-9, 182-pounder, who has 22 collegiate offers heading into his junior season, said he relishes the chance to line up against such top-notch competition.
“It’s been a great experience coming out here,” Bruce said Saturday. “I just come out to experience the best talent in South Florida: from the quarterbacks, to the cornerbacks, to the linebackers, to the running backs, to the receivers.
“Definitely great coaches we’ve got. Sam Madison, Patrick Surtain. We also have a special guest, Chad Johnson, out here watching us.”
The final roster for SFE7 will be set after Sunday’s camp from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
ALL THE WAY FROM INDIANA
Not everyone attending the tryouts came from South Florida.
Taking honors for traveling the greatest distance was rising junior quarterback Camden Bohn, of Penn High School in Mishawaka, Indiana, just outside of South Bend.
The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Bohn flew down for the weekend with his father, Kevin, to better see where he stood on the national level.
“No. 1, it’s exposure and to compare yourself to where everybody else is,” the elder Bohn said of making the trip from the Midwest. “You can run and do all the drills you want, but when you stack yourself up against a lot of folks in the Florida area and see what’s here, you really know. You know what you’ve got, you know where you can work, and you know if you have what it takes to move on.”
This past fall, Penn High fell in the Class 6A state quarterfinals to Carmel (Ind). High. Bohn said he first heard of the SFE from watching 7-on-7 videos online.
“I heard this is where the best come to compete and I felt like it would be good experience for me,” said Bohn, who is still awaiting his first collegiate offer.
Among the coaches evaluating talent and working at the camp were two members of Goetz’s first SFE team.
Seven years ago current NFL’ers Brandon McGee (St. Louis Rams) and Rodney Smith (Minnesota Vikings) were on the roster of SFE1. Smith was a wide receiver out of Archbishop Carroll who went on to play at Florida State, while McGee, a defensive back, was at Plantation High before heading to UM.
“[I made] a lot of great relationships,” McGee said of his time with SFE1. “A lot of us were from the same area but we didn’t necessarily bump into each other or get a chance to really network with each other. So coming out here playing for SFE1, that helped me meet a lot of guys that I still keep in contact with to this day.
“I met Geno Smith out here. I met Stedman Bailey out here as well; a lot of guys.”