MIAMI — Halftime inside Miami Norland Senior High School’s locker room Thursday at Nathaniel “Traz” Powell Stadium was tense. After a quick trip from Miami Gardens, Fla., Denzel Daxon and Miami Norland Senior coughed up 27 points during the first half of a rivalry showdown with Miami Northwestern Senior High School.
Miami Norland’s front seven didn’t have much trouble getting into the backfield, but every time it did, 3-star athlete Tutu Atwell, starting at quarterback for Miami Northwestern Senior, shook away to string together big plays. Yet somehow Norland rallied to win 28-27 in Miami.
“In the locker room, coaches put us down,” said Nadab Joseph, a 4-star cornerback and one of the Vikings’ defensive leaders. “They was talking about how we was playing soft and we wasn’t playing tough enough, but then when we came out, I was just like, ‘Let’s just play smart.’ ”
It’s easier said than done for Norland this season. The Vikings’ most talented defensive end is Samuel Anaele, a 4-star sophomore from Nigeria in his first year of organized football. Their most talented defensive tackle is Daxon, a recent Miami commit from the Bahamas who’s even newer to the sport than Anaele. Norland’s stunning win against Miami Northwestern showcased everything that’s so good about the young tandem. It also showed everything they still struggle with as they learn a new sport.
Daxon, who is still unrated in the 247Sports composite rankings, plays more than Anaele right now, although the Vikings rotate in a number of defensive linemen. He caught the No. 8 Hurricanes’ attention this month because of his prowess as a raw bull-rusher. At 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds, Daxon burned past Northwestern’s guards all game.
Once in the backfield, though, Daxon’s inexperience showed. Atwell, who is committed to Louisville, can make even the best defensive linemen look foolish. MaxPreps lists him at 5-10, 150 pounds, and both those numbers are probably generous. He’ll join the Cardinals — likely as a wide receiver — because of his freakish agility. Daxon unquestionably possesses an excellent first step, but he just gets in trouble sometimes because he can over-pursue.
“It’s a learning experience for me,” Daxon told DieHards earlier during the week. “Every day I come to practice, I learn, I try to get better.”
Right now, Daxon is at his best when used situationally. He can torment quarterbacks with even 75 percent the mobility of Atwell, who threw for 2 touchdowns and ran for another. Daxon still needs to get better at clogging running lanes, commanding double teams and understanding angles as a pass rusher. After the Vikings seized a 28-27 lead during the final 3 minutes with 21 straight second-half points, Daxon and Anaele watched the Bulls’ final possession from the bench. Their teammates swallowed up Atwell for a pair of sacks to force a final turnover on downs.
— David Wilson (@DBWilson2) October 27, 2017
All the schools that have already offered Daxon — Georgia Tech and Kentucky, too — look at all the positive traits. They can’t teach his blend of size and speed, and Daxon’s relentless pursuit helped wear down Atwell.
Even now, Daxon stars situationally and Norland sprung the upset because of a complete defensive performance during the second half. If he progresses the way Miami hopes, Daxon could live up to his sleeper billing.
“He had all of the necessary attributes that a big D-tackle needs. He has a quick first step, real big and strong. He just really didn’t know what he was doing,” Vikings assistant coach Michael Tunsil said earlier this week. “Now he has football IQ to go along with the natural ability that he brought.
The post Denzel Daxon, new Miami DT commit, flashes specialized talent for Norland appeared first on Diehards.
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