Special Teams Are Overlooked

Larry Blustein
March 08, 2018 - 10:07 am
Special Teams

Larry Blustein

For the most part, football coaches do not like kickers, punters and long snappers. That will never change.

But also something that will never change is the long snapper, holder and kicker being caught on national television after making a field goal, sending them to the title game.

Love them or hate them – curse them on those 100-plus degree days – or make fun of them at every meeting, practice or social gathering, but at the end of the day, special teams players are indeed as important as anyone on any roster.

While you never hear about a long snapper until one of his balls soars over the head of a punter – or a kicker on extra points or field goals – they are there getting the job done.

If you ask any fan who the teams’ punter is, you will get that certain look of “I don’t know.” But unless there is a bad kick, nobody knows.

The kicker probably has the most visible position of all special teams, and while you are the hero of the day when something goes right, they are calling for your replacement when you go into that slump.

American Heritage Plantation standout long snapper J. Frank Melgarejo has used his ability to not only attract college attention, but put himself in a spot where very few have the chance to land.

From the time that this one-time youth elite lineman got to the high school level – at Miami Coral Reef – he was already a rising special teams star. He was a youth football standout with the Doral Broncos. He spent his first season at the varsity level at Coral Reef before heading north.

After a year at Hialeah Gardens Mater Academy, Melgarejo made the move to Plantation American Heritage – where he is a current junior and a two-time state champion.

“From the beginning, I played offensive line, tight end, fullback and was a long snapper,” he explained. “As time moved on, long snapping really took center stage – and while I was playing other positions – this is where things fell into place for me.”

Indeed, they have. With hard work, plenty of travel and a will to get better every year, the Patriots not only have one of the elite teams in the country, but at the recent Kornblue Winter Fab 50 Showcase, he was awarded with the No. 1 ranking in the country – in his class.

Melgarejo was also rated high by Kohl’s Kicking, who has also watched this gifted athlete perform over the years.

2019 – Matteo Uccelli, LS/DE/TE, Miami Gulliver Prep. Another of the nationally rated long snapper, his performance at a recent event thrust him into the spotlight – and like Melgarejo – has a chance to be a difference maker.

KICKERS EMERGE

There are some quality kickers in South Florida – with many instructor doing an amazing job. 

But the only way you can get recognition – when it comes to special teams – you have go to events to compete and get rated.

Here are some of the locals to keep an eye on:

2021 – Andy Boragales, Miami Booker T. Washington. Following in the footsteps of his older brother who is the starter at FIU, here is a kicker that many have been talking about. Had the opportunity to share the kicking duties a year ago – and after a very strong off season, he will certainly be one of Miami-Dade’s best as a sophomore.

2021 – Joshua Lopes, PK, Doral Academy. Another of the young guns who was a strong and accurate leg, and as he matures and grows, this is definitely someone we will be hearing plenty about. Great work ethic and is about to blow up this season.

2019 – Jimmy Lowery, Plantation American Heritage. One of the most accurate and talented kickers in Florida – as he has proven over the past season during a state championship year. Strong on kickoffs and nearly automatic from 40 yards out.

2919 – Tyler Waxman, P/K, Pembroke Pines West Broward. In an area where you never expect a nationally-rated special teams player, head coach Monte Dilworth and the Bobcats know how fortunate they are to have such a quality kicker and punter. Has really made an impact in the past few months.

As always, if there are other special teams prospects for us to keep an eye on, please let us know. Just e-mail to [email protected].  

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