IN THE HUDDLE: Shomari Grant

Shomari Grant, HIALEAH

The state of Florida has some impressive running back prospects for the upcoming season, but none has been out of the spotlight like Hialeah High standout Shomari Grant. We get inside the huddle with an emerging star who was one of Miami-Dade's best as a junior in 2004.

During the spring and into the summer, www.floridakids.us will bring you our IN THE HUDDLE segments with football players throughout the state of Florida.

These are similiar to the evaluations we pass on to the hundreds of colleges who visit our website, call us on the phone and correspond via e-mail.

Here is another top football player to keep an eye on this season – and beyond.

PLAYER: Shomari Grant.
POSITION: Running Back.
SCHOOL: Hialeah.
HEAD COACH: Alex Terry.
HEIGHT: 5-9.
WEIGHT: 180.
SPEED: 4.45
www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring Rating: 112.

When you think of high school football hotbeds across the country, Miami-Dade County has to be at the top - or at least right there with some of the premier locations in the nation to find tremendous talent.

Having covered high school football for a number of years, and growing up around some of the top athletes in the nation in Miami, I sometimes had to laugh when I would see a running back dash for 2,500 yards and score 30 touchdowns in a season. That never happened in Miami. In fact, it wasn't until the 1970s when the area had its first ever 1,000 yard back, and even after that, you would have two or three a year until the early 80s.

Watching someone like Grant play this game last year took me back to the old days of the area. While Grant emerged as the top runner in the south Florida area, he went about his business in a manner where he earned every yard he gained.

Grant is not one of those big, bruising backs who will awe you with his size, but he will impress you with his running style and what he does to help his team win.

Like I do with a number of players I have the pleasure of evaluating, I saw Grant play live twice a year ago. The first time he got it done in the first half of the game with 166 yards and three TD, and the second time, he was held to just 11 first half yards before exploding for 177 in the second half and helping his team win.

While other backs across this state are getting plenty of publicity, Grant is one of those players who talks his teammates up more than himself, and he always gives his team the opportunity to compete against anyone.

At the Perfect Competition/FloridaKids.us Camp in March, Grant talked about his ability and what he expected from his final season.

"Football is a team game," he said. "If you start talking about I did this or I did that, you lose the trust of your teammates and coaches. That's why I prefer to talk about my linemen, receivers and quarterback."

STRENGTHS: Has the ability to hit the hole quickly. That comes from playing the position at a high level for several years.

In a game against North Miami Beach last season, one that the T-Breds were not favored in, it was a game in which Grant, who was leading rusher in Miami-Dade County, opened some eyes.

In the first half, he seemed tentative when his blocking was pushed back off the ball. He had a hard time picking out a place to run. But as the game progressed, and he had the chance to talk with Terry at halftime, things began to change.

In the second half, I charted him on three different plays. The first was a quick off tackle play, where he ran to daylight and cut the ball outside. With North Miami Beach using some key players on both sides of the ball, Grant started to wear them down.

On the second play I jotted down, Grant was met at the line, faked toward the right and then saw a little opening on the left side. He hit the hole quickly, broke two arm tackles at the line of scrimmage and outran budding star E.J. Biggers 82 yards for a score.

On the final drive, which put Hialeah up, it was Grant again who showed his durability for a "smaller" back. He ran hard tackle-to tackle, and then exploded outside. While he did utilize his speed to get outside, his strength became wearing down a defense with his power as well.

"Coming into that game, we wanted to just keep Grant contained," said NMB head coach Jeff Bertani. "Give the young man credit, he pounded hard, searched for openings in the defense and beat us with his outstanding running ability."

WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON: Obviously, when you don't have a lot of size, you make up for it in other ways. Shomari will learn that at the next level, you cannot run inside all the time. You have to learn to cut the ball outside and make use of your speed. BR>
Also, it's important to become a receiver. You will be more valuable at the next level as a receiver as well as a runner.

OVERALL: Not a lot of people across the state of Florida have heard of Grant - even though he was one of the top runners in one of the nation's hotbeds, but that will change when the season begins and he shows off his impressive ability.

COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: There are several schools that have been looking at Grant as a back who is on the rise. When we talked to Grant, the University of Iowa was the only school he mentioned, but did say that things could change during the spring and into the summer.

Get IN THE HUDDLE with some more of Florida's emerging stars:
IN THE HUDDLE - DARRELL ROSEMAN
IN THE HUDDLE - JAMES POE
IN THE HUDDLE - RYAN ELLIS
IN THE HUDDLE - COURTNEY JONES
IN THE HUDDLE - BRYAN THOMAS
IN THE HUDDLE - JORDAN DALRYMPLE
IN THE HUDDLE - PRESTON PARKER
IN THE HUDDLE - SABBATH JOSEPH
IN THE HUDDLE - PRESTON PARKER
IN THE HUDDLE - RYAN KHAWLY
IN THE HUDDLE - REGGIE ODOM
IN THE HUDDLE - KEITH HOUSTON
IN THE HUDDLE - C.J. SPILLER
IN THE HUDDLE - RILEY COOPER
IN THE HUDDLE - JAMES JAMISON
IN THE HUDDLE - DESMOND GEE
IN THE HUDDLE - RICKY GARY
IN THE HUDDLE - LAURANCE MARIUS
IN THE HUDDLE - LABRANDON GLOVER
IN THE HUDDLE - RICHARD JACKSON
IN THE HUDDLE - KENRICK ELLIS

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