Larry Blustein

FRIDAY FOCUS: NFL Players Infuse Knowledge, Experience To High School Teams

Larry Blustein
January 25, 2019 - 11:57 am

Through the years – south Florida area high schools have been fortunate to have former NFL players who help as assistant coaches – some even have taken head jobs.

As one of two current south Florida head coaches who played in the NFL, Pat Surtain (Plantation American Heritage) has been amazing in his three seasons, losing just two games in his career. But he isn’t alone. Current University of Miami defensive back coach Mike Rumph was part of multiple state tiles at American Heritage. He took over for Jeff Dellenbach, who played for Don Shula and Bill Parcells and was also successful.

Miami Christian head coach Nick Turnbull has also started to turn – and what he has learned along the way is helping him build his program into a yearly contender. 

One time Kansas City Chiefs star Donnell Bennett had success at the high school level, coaching former UM standout Stacey Coley. Former Miami Dolphin and New York Giant defensive back Reyna Thompson had head coaching stints at West Broward and Hollywood Hills – as well as his assistant position at Everglades.

Having NFL players on any sideline is common place down in south Florida. They come back to watch – and some even stay around, raise their families and get involved.

It’s one of the very few places where Hall of Famers like Cris Carter and Jason Taylor became important for St. Thomas Aquinas on the sidelines.

During the 2017 season – when St. Thomas hosted John Bosco of California, it was Taylor who worked with then defensive end Nik Bonitto, on a move. When the current Oklahoma standout came out of that game as one of the top performers, Taylor got much of the spotlight.

Having former NFL standouts such as Darryl Williams, Sam Madison and Twan Russell on the staff, was also huge, working and teaching.

What Surtain has done at American Heritage is feature his fellow NFL standouts like Oronde Gadson and Darryl Porter, who continue to give this program plenty of elite talent. He has also helped to give back to the game that he loves so much.

Daniel Luque’s success at University School was enhanced by the presence of Anthony Harris, Channing Crowder, Arturo Freeman and Wayne Blair, a standout at St. Thomas Aquinas and Tulane as well as in the CFL.

Doral assistant coach David Bowens has been a difference maker on the sideline for Hallandale and now Doral Academy.

With the start of the 7-on-7 season under way – many coaches who had never thought they would be part of that grueling off season high school season – are very much in the middle of it.

Former Killian, FSU and NFL star Derrick Gibson has spent the past few years making an impact with Miami Central. Now, he returns to his alma mater and will work around the clock to get the Cougars back in the mix.

One time Northwestern, Pittsburgh and NFL player Torrie Cox is a fixture on south Florida high school and youth sidelines. So is Antonio “Dayla” Brown, a big time prospect back in the day at West Virginia and with Washington and Buffalo in the NFL. He is still working as an assistant after serving as a head coach at Miami Jackson.

Then, there’s longtime Dillard star Lorenzo White. One of the most decorated running backs in south Florida history, this record setting Michigan State and NFL standout has long been on the sidelines for the Panthers – no matter who is the head coach.

With some football coaches getting ready to head to another state for more pay, there will always be former professional football players enjoying the year round weather and helping local programs out.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If there are other for professional players who were not mentioned, please let us know at

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