Posted: 11:42 am Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Ex-Palm Beach Central WR EJ Sardinha to play at Minnesota 

By Jeff Greer

The receiver with speed, smarts and hands got all kinds of love from Palm Beach Central coach Rod Harris when he surveyed his 2011 team’s first practice of the season last fall.

But Harris wasn’t talking about touted national recruit Angelo Jean-Louis, who eventually signed with Miami. EJ Sardinha, a lanky but strong receiver, was the object of Harris’s affection. And, after a long and rather disappointing recruiting process, Sardinha proved his coach’s opinion right, agreeing to a preferred walk-on spot at Minnesota, a BCS program competing in the Big Ten.

“I’m excited to make something out of this opportunity,” Sardinha said Tuesday.

Sardinha (6-1, 185) waited and waited for big-time colleges to come calling, instead receiving attention mostly from Division I-AA, Division II, Division III and NAIA schools. Harris was dumbfounded — in his mind, Sardinha not only possessed gliding speed and smooth charisma on the field, he had the grades and smarts off it, a makeup that usually attracts major Division I programs trying to fill out roster spots.

All that changed this summer, when Sardinha traveled north to Minneapolis, discovering a potential spot at Minnesota. He has family there, and his schoolwork and potential made him an easy walk-on option for the Gophers. He filed all his paperwork last week, and will begin classes this summer. He’ll start working out with Minnesota football on Aug. 1.

Sardinha caught 10 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown last fall for Palm Beach Central, often creating a headache for opposing secondaries already obsessed with stopping Jean-Louis.

With Sardinha’s arrival at Minnesota, he rounds out an impressive, record-setting 2012 class at Central, which had five seniors sign with Division I programs.