Orlando, Fla. - Quarterback Mike White and his wide receiving corps at Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) University School have dubbed themselves the ‘Bomb Squad’. But for the first 20 minutes or so of their state championship game against Madison County you could say they were grounded. Down 17-0, they finally got in synch and scored 24 unanswered points to win the 3A state title.
White’s battery mates are wide receivers Jordan Cunningham, D.J. Taylor and Emmanuel Soto. They were the spark offensively, as the Suns downed the Cowboys in the Citrus Bowl.
Taylor said it’s been a work in progress.
"It's comfortable,” Taylor said. “When I first got here, it was MacGarrett [Kings] and [Daniel] Braverman and Jordan Cunningham and they taught me the ropes. This year, Samuel Bruce came along, Emmanuel Soto came along, Donnice Woods stepped up, and it was Jordan too with me. We were comfortable this year leading the pack and were appreciative to have the young guys buying into the system, and it definitely paid off this game, with Sam and the big plays that he made, and Soto and the big plays that he made."
Cunningham was injured midway through the game. In his absence Soto and the others picked up the slack.
"I feel great, I love my team and I love the ‘Bomb Squad’,” Cunningham said. “Emmanuel Soto had a great game, D.J. Taylor had a great game, Sam Bruce had a great game. I tried to fight and come back into the game and lead my team to the victory."
For Soto, he’s just thankful to learn from the older guys, just like the older guys learned from previous wide receiver standouts at University School.
“I owe it all to them,” Soto said. “They have taught me so much this year alone. Coach [Beard] has also been instrumental.”
Beard knows a thing or two about the position. He was a high profiled receiver from Plantation High School in South Florida and played at the University of Miami. He has a simple principal that served so true in this state title game.
“I emphasize define the moment. Don’t let the moment define you,” said Beard, the team’s wide receiver’s coach. “We got down. D.J. fumbled. We had adversity out there today. But D.J. bounced back and made some plays and had a key two-point conversion. He didn’t let that moment [fumble] define him. I have been through this as a player. That’s what I have stressed to this group. I have been blessed to coach these guys.”
Cunningham, Taylor and Soto combined for 18 receptions for 246 yards and two scores. White finished 21/31 for 282 yards and two touchdowns. In the end, it was bombs away for the Suns.
"I'm just a quarterback and my playmakers do all the work,” White said. “My receivers made some huge catches. I just get the ball to them and they do all the work.
"The ‘Bomb Squad’ was in full effect."
Great day for QB White
Today was a big day for University School signal caller Mike White. Moments after celebrating a state championship victory with his teammates he was told to make a phone call to USF.
“They called me – I’m not even joking – about ten minutes (after leaving the stadium). [University School Head] Coach [Roger Harriott told me to call coach [Larry] Scott. I called and they offered,” he said.
The 6-foot-5, 195-pound quarterback was recruited by Skip Holtz and the former Bulls regime. But things changed today.
“They said originally they were going to offer me, but then Coach Holtz got fired so they had to wait until they got a new coach. With the hiring of coach [Willie] Taggart, they watched my film and he gave them the okay and they offered,” he said.
“I really gave some thought to it and I was ready to commit, but obviously when Coach Holtz got fired, it wasn’t official. It was a matter of time before they got a new coach and it would depend on what system he ran and if he liked me, and he did, so I committed.”
White is Taggert's first commitment and he is ready to bring his skills to the USF program.
“I think I can succeed at the next level with my decision-making skills and my ability to lead and just to be the epitome of what a quarterback is,” he said.
“I’m committed to them. It’s not an in-the-meantime, soft commitment,” he said.
Bain talks recruiting
Defensive tackle Maquedius Bain (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./University School) is narrowing down his school. This four-star talked about five schools. He was previously committed to Florida State.
“It was best for me to back off that commitment,” Bain said. “Things were crazy and I had to back off. But I did recently have an in-home visit with FSU. I also had one with LSU and they are coming back.”
Bain has also made recent official visits this fall to both Oklahoma and Marshall. Those are two schools that he can see himself at.
“Oklahoma was great,” Bain said. “It was fun and they showed me a good time. Bob Stoops has a great program and they always win. It was a very exciting time for me.
“Marshall is my backup plan in case things don’t work out with my SAT or grades. Plus, I know some kids there.”
Who else is Bain looking at?
“LSU for sure and Louisville,” Bain said. “They are both coming for in-home visits next week.”
Bain also said he will make his decision on national signing day.
Skai stars for Suns
Three-star linebacker Skai Moore may have saved his best game for last. The senior standout recorded 14 tackles. He also had a key sack and quarterback pressure during the final moments of the game.
“We just came out there and made plays, especially in the second half,” Moore said. “I have a lot of respect for Madison County. They are the most physical team we have played. But we came out in the second half with a different mindset and attitude.”
Moore now came focus on recruiting, as he still has not made his decision.
“Right now it’s Wisconsin, Rutgers (1-17), Vanderbilt, and TCU,” Moore said. “I want to make my decision as soon as possible.”
Battle comes up big
Kentucky defensive back commitment Jalen Battle came up huge for University School as well. He had a fumble recovery and interception and was in on a handful of tackles.
“This is so deserving,” Battle said. “We worked so hard for this. It’s a great moment, especially the way we fought back. We just kept attacking.”
Meanwhile, Battle says he’s so excited about the new coaching change in Lexington. That’s what he’s now focused on.
“Getting coach [Mark] Stoops is so huge,” Battle said. “It’s the best thing that has happened to Kentucky. I am so excited about it. I can’t wait.I met with coach [D.J.] Elliot last Thursday. He’s a great guy.
“Now, I have to get a couple of players to come along with me. I am trying to get Skai [Moore], Jordan [Cunningham] and D.J. [Taylor] up there with me.”