Posted: 9:06 am Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Glades Central expects 13 football players to sign 

By Jason Lieser

Last year Glades Central only needed one table on the stage for national signing day. The Raiders might need three or four for the football team when they sign letters of intent next Wednesday.

No fewer than 13 seniors from the 2008 football team are expected to sign, and 10 of them already are committed.

This year’s class is headlined by wide receiver Rantavious Wooten, the area’s best in ’08, and offensive lineman Henry Orelus. Both players committed before or during the season, with Orelus (6-6, 315) bound for Florida State and Wooten (6-1, 190) planning on Georgia.

Offensive lineman Rupert Bryan (6-4, 250) — who many area coaches said was at least Orelus’ equal — is verbally committed to Florida International. Bryan drew offers from South Florida, Kansas, Northern Illinois, Ball State and Georgia State as a defensive tackle, but preferred to stay on the o-line and close to home.

Alabama State has verbal commitments from defensive back James Melton (5-11, 200) and linebacker Emmanuel Rackard (6-3, 230). The Hornets got a verbal from Pahokee offensive lineman Jaquan Bentley during the season and have a shot at landing undeclared Raiders offensive lineman Vincent Harper (6-3, 285). Harper also has an offer from Hampton.

Hampton is one of several schools making a run at diminutive running back Antonio McCloude. McCloude is listed at 5-8, 165. Both of those numbers seem generous, but his speed and his elusiveness helped him pick up offers from Ball State, Alabama State, FIU and Hampton. McCloude is set to visit Hampton this week and there is a growing belief in Belle Glade that he will sign with the Pirates. Hampton has been one of the MEAC’s top teams this decade and sent five players to the NFL combine in 2007.

Another available player is defensive back Cartavious Baldwin (6-1, 170), who has drawn interest from Troy and Marshall. Baldwin was one of the Raiders’ Muck Bowl heroes with two interceptions.

Linebacker Robert Ferguson (6-3, 210) committed to Georgia State, which also picked up Glades Day quarterback Bo Schlechter. GSU will begin its football program in 2010.

Defensive lineman Altavious Dowdell (6-4, 230) led the Raiders with 95 tackles and is committed to Eastern Illinois. EIU produced Cowboys QB Tony Romo, Vikings coach Brad Childress and Saints coach Sean Payton.

Offensive lineman Jim Knowles (6-4, 335) gave a verbal commitment to The Citadel in South Carolina, which is the alma mater of legendary Pahokee coach/godfather Don Thompson.

Linebacker Hygens Succes (6-2, 215) is verbally committed to play for Ohio Wesleyan.

Cornerback Byron Blake (6-2, 174) pledged to play for Arkansas State.