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Guarionex Rivera isn’t a guy who grew up playing the game of football as a kid. He grew up in Miami, Florida and the area he comes from is rough but it forced him to become tough and become his own person quickly. Unfortunately, that also involved leaving some friends behind to focus on football.

He started playing as recently as his junior year (2015) at South Miami Senior High School, and he knew he had the talent to play the game in his first game against Varela High School which was a close loss 38-32 at the beginning of the season. He recorded 55 tackles and one interception in 2015.

“…Why I like it, I’m an aggressive person [on the field], I like contact,” Rivera said. He admires Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu because he’s aggressive regardless of his size.

As far as who has had the biggest influence in his life, he says his mother and his sister have kept him focused on the important things.

“They changed me, that’s a fact. I would always hang around the wrong people so my sister changed that around [for me] and took me away from those things. Other people started coming to me saying, ‘Oh, you should play football,’” he said.

South Miami Senior High defensive coordinator Donald Jackson has been very impressed with what he has seen out of Guarionex Rivera in the short time that he has been coaching him.

“He has come quite far. I had the opportunity to coach him last year which was my first coaching him and pretty much his first year of high school. From that time being until now, he’s actually ahead of the curve and better than some of the athletes that have been playing their whole entire life,” Jackson said.

Jackson also said that Rivera is always eager to improve and he detailed a conversation the two had a while back when I spoke with him in late June.

“He still has a whole lot of room for improvement. As a matter of fact, last night we had a conversation over text and he [asked] me ‘what can I do to improve?’ and I was just letting him l know that there is always room to improve on the little things,” Jackson said. “[For example], when we don’t have practice, take that time to go work on your craft or just work on the mental aspects of the game; don’t try to overthink it, just let it come to you naturally.”

Guarionex Rivera is not ranked by any of the major recruiting services and hasn’t received a scholarship offer yet. He does have high interest in Appalachian State and said that his commitment decision will come when a school makes it known that they want him and he feels comfortable with them on and off the field. See his highlight film here.

“It’s actually been well. It’s going well for me. College coaches have been coming to me and talking to me. I just have to remain humble and keep working hard,” Rivera said about how the recruiting process is going.

Jackson and Rivera attended a Florida A&M University camp at ASA College in Miami and a former colleague of Jackson’s, ASA College tight ends coach, Larry Williams talked to Rivera about his explosiveness.

“…He was just talking to [Guarionex] after the camp letting him know there are still a couple of things that he needs to work on like when he’s coming out of his breaks, he needs to show a little bit more explosiveness. He showed great explosiveness but [Larry] wanted to see a little bit more explosiveness. Other than that, that was pretty much it,” Jackson said.

Off the field, physical therapy is something that Guarionex Rivera would like to study in college because he likes training and helping people when they’re hurt. When his time is all said and done at South Miami Senior High, he said he’ll miss his coaches and teammates and wants to be remembered as someone who stayed when the team was at a low point in addition to being someone people can trust and depend on.

“The thing I will remember most about him being pa part of this football program is being a tenacious football player. This guy is what, in his second year playing football and I’ve seen a lot of other players that have played four years in high school and he’s already ahead of the curve. Some of those guys that have played [all] four years still haven’t caught up or won’t be at his level and where he’s at. He still has room to grow,” Jackson said.