Four Aquinas football stars chosen to Under Armour Game

Defensive backs Al Blades, Jr. and Asante Samuel, Jr. will join by edge rusher Nik Bonitto and wide receiver Elijah

St. Thomas Aquinas has shown it can play defense with the best teams in the nation.

The Raiders have some weapons on offense too.

This coming January, talent from both units will be on display in Orlando when four of Aquinas’ best will compete in the 10th annual Under Armour All-America Game on January 4th in Orlando.

Defensive end Nik Bonitto will be joined by elite cornerbacks Asante Samuel, Jr. and Al Blades, Jr. as will wide receiver Elijah Moore in the game that will take place that day at 6 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN2.

The quartet represents the largest contingent from one team in the event for a South Florida team since its inception.

The quartet joins Chaminade wide receiver Xavier Williams (Alabama commit); Central linebacker Robert Hicks and cornerback Chandler Jones (both Louisville commitments) and American Heritage receiver Anthony Schwartz among the South Florida’s invitees so far.

"It’s amazing for me and my brothers knowing that all the guys you’ve been working with since freshman year are doing big things now," Bonitto said. "It’s an honor."

Bonitto, who had an interception return for a touchdown and two key sacks in St. Thomas’ 14-0 bounce-back win over Deerfield Beach last week, remains uncommitted.

Bonitto said he has lined up a visit to the University of Texas next weekend and still plans to see Oklahoma. Bonitto is strongly considering those two schools as well as Louisville, which he has already visited, and Mississippi State.

"Those three are in the mix and Mississippi State as well, but we’ll see happens," Bonitto said.

Blades, Jr., rated the No. 11 cornerback in the nation by 247Sports.com, said he remains committed firmly to the University of Miami.

Samuel, Jr., rated the No. 13 cornerback in the country by 247Sports.com, is also on track to go to FSU.

The two both intently watched UM’s 24-20 victory over FSU last week.

"Those boys are going through some adversity right now, but they’re going to show what type of team they are," Samuel said.

Moore remains committed to the University of Georgia.

"You can’t go wrong with that situation over there," Moore said. "I’m probably going to take a couple more visits, but I’m 100 percent with Georgia."

COACHING AWARD

Columbus coach Chris Merritt was selected as this week’s Miami Dolphins and Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) Coach of the Week.

Merritt guided the Explorers to three wins in a nine-day span, starting with a crucial district victory over Miami High, and continuing with a win over perennial state title contender Booker T. Washington and a win over last year’s Class 6A runner-up Lakeland Lake Gibson.

Previous honorees from Dade and Broward Counties this season were Miami Central’s Roland Smith and Cardinal Gibbons’ Matt DuBuc.

FACEBOOK LIVE

The Miami Dolphins are live streaming high school football games this season on Facebook on their page "Miami Dolphins High School Football Live."

The broadcasts debuted last week with St. Thomas Aquinas’ 14-0 win over Deerfield Beach and featured a live 30-minute pregame show with Audible Sports hosted by former Dolphins Kim Bokamper and Jose Rose.

The Dolphins will next live stream Friday’s clash between American Heritage and Cardinal Gibbons.

Upcoming games – Oct. 20: Miami Northwestern vs. Miami Central at Traz Powell, 7 p.m.; Oct. 27: Miramar at Western, 7 p.m.; Nov. 3: Miramar at St. Thomas Aquinas, 7 p.m.

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Article Four Aquinas football stars chosen to Under Armour Game compiled by www.miamiherald.com