OAKLEAF - With a backfield with the likes of Keshawn King at running back and Jordan Johnson at quarterback, the common denominator for their 1,000 plus yards and high octane offense could be mammoth …
OAKLEAF - With a backfield with the likes of Keshawn King at running back and Jordan Johnson at quarterback, the common denominator for their 1,000 plus yards and high octane offense could be mammoth offensive lineman Jalen Rivers.
At 6'-6", 330-plus pounds, Rivers, an incoming senior at Oakleaf High School, has been a mainstay at tackle for the Knights under coaches Steven Reynolds and most recently Frank Garis.
"As an eighth grader, he came to every high school practice we had and watched and learned," said Reynolds. "Coming in as a freshman, he had a lot of the physical tools he would need. He could move really well and had great power off the ball. I was blown away at his size at first, but his ability to learn fast was also a plus. Miami is a good fit."
On Sunday, amidst plenty of recruitment whispers on where Rivers would go; Georgia, Florida and Alabama also on the Rivers' list, it was the University of Miami Hurricanes football program that Rivers chose to continue his playing days. Rivers, a 4-star recruit in most polls, arrives at Miami as the second offensive lineman in their recruiting effort with 3-star Ocala Vanguard offensive guard Antonio Smith also commiting to Miami. Vanguard finished 13-1 with a loss in the region 2-6A finals to eventual 6A runnerup Tampa Armwood. Oakleaf lost in double overtime in the region 1-7A quarterfinals to Tallahassee Lincoln.
Rivers, who recently won a Class 4A shot put title on the track and played on the district champion basketball team for Oakleaf, released a short statement after making his decision public.
"I'd like to thank everyone who has helped me during this process, especially my family, coaches (weightlifting, track, basketball and football), friends, teachers and teammates," wrote Rivers. "I will not graduate early and enroll early next year, so I will not get a chance to compete in any sport except football my senior year at Oakleaf High School, but I will alwys be proud to be an OHS Knight."
Rivers joins the Hurricanes revamped coaching staff with incoming new head coach Manny Diaz, the former defensive coach for departed head coach Mark Richt, taking over the head coach duties. Diaz has on his offensive side a new offensive line coach in Butch Barry, a former offensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the National Football League.
According to one Hurricane football blog, Caneswarning.com's Alan Rubenstein, Miami has a very young offensive line. Graduate transfer Tommy Kennedy is the Hurricanes only offensive lineman currently on the roster that will be out of eligibility after the 2019 season. The inconsistent play of the big uglies over the last few seasons will provide Rivers with a chance to start as a true freshman.
Ironically, Rivers, a numerous times all county, all state and nationally ranked player, will join another ace Oakleaf High standout in linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, a four year starter for the Hurricanes. Quarterman was a graduated senior on the Knights' region final football team under coach Derek Chipoletti. Chipoletti resigned after the championship season which included an unbeaten 10-0 regular season record and first-time home playoff games. Chipoletti was replaced by Steven Reynolds who got Rivers as a freshman and had him for two years before Garis took over last year. Garis took the Knights to a region playoff berth last year.