The state of Florida has a diverse and extravagant college football recruiting culture. From Pensacola to Miami, it’s a state loaded with prep football talent that has many happenings, and sometimes several important pieces of news within one 24-hour period.
This ongoing article is a one-stop shop for recruiting information including interviews with recruits, plus information for prospects that announce visit plans, commitment dates, and their actual college decisions themselves, among many traditional topics.
There are also going to be video highlights of top recruits from seven-on-seven events, camps, combines, and even individual prospect workouts from across the state of Florida.
Additionally, this is a place to gain information about how Florida college football programs UCF, Miami, Florida State and Florida are doing along the recruiting trail.
There will also be commitment lists, and overall recruiting news for the Florida college football teams that are all competing with each other.
Finally, discussing how the in-state programs attempt to fend off programs outside the state of Florida borders like Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Clemson among others, to land the best players the Sunshine State has to offer.
Stay locked in, as this is where news around the state of Florida’s recruiting landscape can be found.
Jan. 15 – 2 p.m. update
Just a quick thought about one of the players now in the Transfer Portal from the Alabama Crimson Tide, and that’s wide receiver Tyler Harrell.
Coming out of Miami (Fla.) Columbus, he was overlooked by some schools. Perhaps it was the 6-foot and 165-pound size that scared off some college football programs. That’s a typical Florida recruit though.
For a long, long time, all the Florida college programs — Miami, Florida State, Florida, UCF, USF, Florida International and Florida Atlantic, have signed players like this young man. They put these types of prospects in the weight room and nutrition programs, and a couple of years later, boom!
Well, Louisville still wanted Harrell within its 2018 recruiting class (as did some others, but probably not as many as there should have been). He did well before his first transfer to Alabama.
The Cardinals had to a wait a bit, but in 2021, Harrell caught 18 passes for 523 yards, a tremendous 29.1 average, and six touchdowns. Then, he took off for Bama.
While Harrell has entered the Transfer Portal again, keep in mind something that even college football coaches sometimes forget. Not every prospect creates immediate impact. Some do, yes, but that’s the exception and not the rule.
Harrell was proof of this fact. With all of the raw and highly-talented prep football recruits that come out of Florida, some of them simply needed some time to produce results, especially at the Power 5 level.
While many schools hold the win-now attitude, it might be wise for some of them to be careful of not overlooking the obvous physical skills of some of Florida’s top talent that might need a year or two to develop before exploding.
There will certainly be many more players like Harrell that come out of Florida, full of speed and big-play ability. Not all of them are polished prospects, however. College coaches should always at least consider thinking about the long term.
One of the more gifted athletes that played at the 7v7 Elite tournament was wide receiver Marcel Williams from Pompano Beach (Fla.) Blanche Ely.
During the tournament, the 5-foot-11 and 185-pound receiver took a few moments to be interviewed about the early stages of what happened during his recruiting process, as well as talk a little about his over game.
He was straight forward with what he believed he needed to work on most as a receiver.
“My speed, so I can get out of my breaks faster,” Williams began. “Everything, so I can be a top-tier receiver in my class.”
On the flip side, Williams also discussed what he felt he does best as a wide receiver, and he was point blank once again.
“Catching the ball.”
Williams showed soft hands and a natural ability to do so by extending his hands away from his body. As part of his continued learning process, he’s also going to see an extended role this next fall.
“I’m planning to be moved all around. Just helping out my offense so we can hopefully go to (the) state (finals).”
Additionally, Williams said he’s looking to play defense in 2023 and he’s open to playing on that side of the ball as well.
“It doesn’t matter,” Williams answered when asked about being recruited as a cornerback. “Whatever school is the best fit for me.”
Fully transferring the conversation towards the recruiting front, Williams has already earned five offers.
“Maryland, Akron, Western Kentucky, Alabama State, and Grambling State.”
There were other programs already in contact with him, too.
“Florida State a little bit. FAU a little bit, yeah.”
Assuming Williams plays offense in college, he’s not as concerned about the concept as he is the ability to be a prime option.
“I just want to be a major factor in the offense.”
After seeing Williams run and catch on Saturday, he will certainly have more and more offers headed his way.
The first seven-on-seven tournament of the year has started here in sunny Florida. It was the 7v7 Elite Championship Series tournament at Merritt Island High School.
A few of the notable prospects that stood out today, and tonight’s update will highlight one key prospect that showed a versatile skill set.
Running back/wide receiver Gerald Modest from Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington. A running back prospect from the class of 2024, or so it was thought, Modest lined up out wide for Bless 7v7.
He showed a great first step out of his stance, good ability to get in and out of his breaks, looked natural as he caught the football away from his body, and the ability to quickly stop and start after the catch.
Modest has already acquired offers from programs such as Illinois, Florida State, Miami, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, and Ole Miss, among others.
It will be interesting to see how college football programs recruit modest moving forward, as he’s capable of being in the backfield or on the perimeter at the college level.
Also playing for the same organization would be another wide receiver that’s rising, Marcel Williams from Pompano Beach (Fla.) Blanche Ely. More about Williams and a few more prospects on Sunday morning.
Great start to the seven-on-seven season via 7v7 Elite’s tournament.
Jan. 13 – Update #2
One of the most natural running backs in the entire state of Florida, and the nation, would be Stacy Gage. The 5-foot-10 and 200-pound runner has decided a change in scenery was needed.
He will play for Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas this next season. They already have a wealth of talent and have won four consecutive state titles, so adding a national top 100 recruit like Gage will aid the Raiders further.
As for Gage, he’s been heavily recruited for a couple of seasons. The Oklahoma program has a shot because Gage has family ties to that area, and he’s been keen on Ohio State, Florida, and other programs as well.
Bottom line, Gage is one of the best pure running backs for the class of 2024 and it’s going to be interesting to see him play for Saint Thomas Aquinas before he heads off to the college of his choice.
Article cover photo is of Arkese Parks.
Based on the recent history of recruiting, the month of January has several prospects that begin to emerge. 2023 will not likely be any different.
Beyond the obvious big-time Florida prep talents like cornerback Charles Lester from Sarasota (Fla.) Riverview, edge Adarius Hayes from Largo (Fla.) High School, and wide receiver James Randle from Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland, among others, there are still numerous 2024 prospects that not that many people know about.
Some are from the Florida Panhandle and gained less exposure because of it (see the first two players on the list below for examples), or for some other reason they just haven’t had enough recognition yet.
Here are ten prospects, among many others, that either just started to, or should start gaining more recruiting attention. Just keep these prospects in mind as the class of 2024 recruiting news begins to pick up.
Jason Patterson, RB, 6-0, 200, Sneads (Fla.) High School
Artavius Jones, DL, 6-4, 280, Blountstown (Fla.) High School
Riley Trujillo, QB, 6-4, 190, Jacksonville (Fla.) Bartram Trail
Rodney Hill, LB, 5-11, 210, Palm Coast (Fla.) Flagler Palm Coast
Quentin Taylor, CB/S, 5-11, 170, Minneola (Fla.) Lake Minneola
Kendall Jackson, DL, 6-3, 250, Gainesville (Fla.) Buchholz
Arkese Parks, WR, 6-1, 180, Tampa (Fla.) Wharton
Joshua Lloyd, Edge, 6-2, 230, Deerfield Beach (Fla.) Dillard
Tayshaun Burney, S, 5-10, 165, Tampa (Fla.) Carrollwood Day School
Jordyn Bridgewater, WR, Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange
Jan. 11 – Update #2
The UCF Knights also offered Madison’s teammate (see the update below this one) and fellow wide receiver, Chance Robinson. Robinson racked up 31 receptions for 609 yards and 13 touchdowns this past season.
Like Madison, he has numerous offers already including but not limited to Georgia, Ole Miss, Missouri, Kentucky, Auburn, Florida State, Michigan State, Miami, Illinois, Kentucky, and Maryland.
Watching Robinson play live, he has some similar tendencies to former great players. One could even argue that Robinson’s style of play resembled former NFL great and now Hall of Fame member Marvin Harrison. Keep in mind, that’s style of play; nobody stated he’s on the level Harrison was. Check out the clips for one’s self.
One of the best wide receivers in Florida, and the entire United States, picked up an offer from the UCF Knights.
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James Madison II was a part of yet another state title run for Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas this past season. It was the fourth consecutive title for the Raiders, and Madison was an instrumental part in the team’s success.
He caught 19 passes for 407 yards and six touchdowns this past season. That’s a tremendous 21.4 yards per reception for Madison.
The speed and athleticism of Madison are apparent, and they come with a 6-foot-3 and 205-pound frame. His accomplishments and natural talent helped him to have earned offers from programs like Michigan State, Colorado, Miami, Florida Sate, Georgia, LSU, Auburn, Penn State, Tennessee and Oregon among others.
Good morning to all the recruit-a-holics out there. Some under the radar prospects that have finally begun to get the attention they deserve.
Xavier Lucas, CB, 6-2, 185, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard
Another lengthy cornerback from Dillard. Antoine Jackson just signed with Miami from Dillard, and he’s similar in size as Lucas. Lucas battles in the run game, does not mind playing bump coverage, and possesses good open-field speed.
Vanderbilt, Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Temple and Miami are some of the programs that Lucas holds an offer from thus far. Here’s a look at his film:
Solomon Williams, OLB/DE, 6-3, 235, Tampa (Fla.) Carrollwood Day School
Has begun to learn the nuances of being an edge defender. Good natural weight distribution and can reach 250 pounds as he goes through a college strength and conditioning program. Most importantly, Williams can move well laterally. This allows him position flexibility as an outside linebacker and a defensive end that could occasionally drop into coverage. Also utilizes powerful hands to disengage from blockers.
He is starting to pick up quite a few offers. Just since the new year, Williams has Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, UCF, and Wake Forest.
Jake Weinberg, K, 5-10, 160, Lake Worth (Fla.) American Heritage
It’s unusual for kickers to earn offers early. Weinberg actually has a few offers to choose from, and already did. Now a Florida State Seminole, Weinberg is rated as the No. 1 2024 kicker in the country by Kohl’s Professional Camps, an organization that works with kickers across the country.
Good for Weinberg for putting in the work to be recognized at such an early stage of his career, having his college already paid for, and playing Power 5 football with FSU.
Lawal McCray, DE, 6-6, 250, Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland
The Buccaneers are known for top talent, and the 2024 class has several Power 5 prospects. McCray is one of the young men that’s finally on the radar in a big way. Length, quickness, and a frame that will allow him to be 275-plus in college are all evident. He’s been picking up offers like Rutgers, Auburn and this one:
That’s not the only defensive end that Michigan offered recently.
Xavier Porter, DE, 6-4, 270, Tampa (Fla.) Catholic
Porter has put on considerable good weight during the past two seasons at Catholic. He’s capable of playing defensive end within a three-man or four-man defensive scheme.
Besides Porter’s recent offer from Michigan, in-state programs like UCF, USF, and Florida State are recruiting him hard as well. Porter should be seeing quite a few more offers coming his way, as will several talented players within the Tampa Catholic program.
**One of the best guys in the recruiting business has been Larry Blustein. He’s literally been in the recruiting world since 1970. Here’s an important post that Blustein recently put up:
**There are quite a few class of 2023 prospects that are still uncommitted and unsigned from the state of Florida. He’s one from down in South Florida. Check out these stats:
Besides the class of 2023 prospects, there are an abundance of underclassmen prospects across Florida that will see a spike in offers over the next several weeks. Remember, college football is coming to a close with the national title game between the Big 12’s TCU and SEC’s Georgia this next Monday.
After that, college coaches will be much more active with offers. It’s typically the case each year. Many of thos offers will certainly be extended to prospects across the Sunshine State. Here are a few already doing well.
**One of the hottest names in the class of 2024 would be Homestead (Fla.) outside linebacker La’Derrick Brunson. He has picked up offers from Colorado, UCF and Florida State since Jan. 1.
The Homestead area has long since been one of the best talent-producing area in South Florida. The entire south edge of Miami, in fact, has quite a few good players; that definitely includes the Homestead High School program.
Here’s a post from Brunson’s most recent offer from the Noles:
**Another prospect that’s gaining major attention from recruiters and has done so for a long time would be Miami (Fla.) Columbus edge defender TJ Capers. He’s announcing his decision on Saturday. Capers will select from Colorado, Miami, Georgia, Louisville and Southern California.
After watching the Under Armour All-American Game, just wanted to share thoughts about several players from the state of Florida. Quick hitters, if one will.
**Andrew Harris and Michael Harris, twins and former UCF commitments, both played well. Michael was credited with six tackles. That was the most for any player in the game. Andrew finished with three. The twins are still deciding on where they will go to school.
After the Under Armour game, Andrew mentioned UCF and Arkansas, where former UCF defensive coordinator Travis Williams has gone, as being two of the options for when they sign on Feb. 1.
**UCF signee John Walker impressed, but he was not the only defensive lineman from Florida that did.
All-around defensive lineman Rueben Bain should be considered one of the nation’s best regardless of position. He just found a way to move past blockers, and that’s been the norm throughout his high school career. Look for him to have an immediate impact for the Miami Hurricanes. He played at Miami (Fla.) Central.
**Sticking with the defense, cornerbacks Sharif Denson from Jacksonville (Fla.) Bartram Trail and Robert Stafford from Melbourne (Fla.) Eau Gallie both showed their footwork and quickness. Denson will play at Florida and Stafford at Miami.
**Another defensive player that was around the football would be Lewis Carter, linebacker from Tampa (Fla.) Catholic. He recorded five tackles on the evening and the future Oklahoma Sooner proved to be one of the more physical players in the game.
**While top-notch cornerback Cormani McClain still did not sign his letter of intent with Miami or any other school, his skills were on display all evening. It’s incredible how athletic the 6-foot-
**Moving to offense, unning back Richard Young only gained 20 yards from seven carries, but he had little room to run (same with most other running backs). He hit the hole hard and made the most of his carries. He showed why he’s the classic downhill running back, but also with a burst of speed that most do not possess. He played for Lehigh Acres (Fla.) Lehigh.
**Fellow running back Cedric Baxter, Jr. scampered 13 yards for a touchdown and totaled 32 yards from seven carries. Baxter’s all-around running back instincts were apparent once again. The Orlando (Fla.) Edgewater product has signed with Texas.
**Moving away from offensive skill players, offensive lineman Roderick Kearney showed his quickness against some great defensive linemen. He just has really good feet and a tremendous amount of upside. Kearney played for Orange Park (Fla.) High School and will attend Florida.
Jan. 1 – Evening Update
After coming back from Under Armour’s practices today, several points to make. Here are a good number of the players that deserve mention after some really good competition today.
John Walker, DT, UCF signee from Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola — See video up top for his explosiveness. He can flat out move. Also showed patience with accepting and utilizing coaching.
Walker has improved his block destruction techniques. A few times he was in a tough battle and ended up winning a one-on-one because of moving the offensive lineman’s hands off of him. Result: sack.
Lucas Simmons, OT, Clearwater (Fla.) Clearwater Academy International – Good kick step combined with better and better hands as the day moved forward. Really like how Simmons competed. Might be the best offensive tackle on the day, and he was certainly going against top-notch pass rushers.
Rueben Bain, defensive end, Miami (Fla.) Central – Best pass rusher. Bain is a beast. The Miami Hurricanes are gaining a 2023 recruit that can come in and play right away on passing downs. Plus, with his natural tenacity, Bain is capable of playing multiple spots along the defensive line and continues to be competitive. Rush end, strong side end, and even defensive tackle are spots he can make plays.
It’s a strong argument that Bain is the nation’s best pure pass rusher, and I certainly have not seen a better one. He was on fire today. The following video is just part of the evidence:
Richard Young, running back, Lehigh Acres (Fla.) Lehigh – While these types of events without going full tackle-to-the-ground style practices do not benefit power running backs, that did not stop Young from showing his speed and vision.
He’s also quite elusive in tight quarters, using short, choppy steps to maneuver through the second level of the defense. Alabama and Nick Saban are gaining a great running back.
Sam M’Pemba, defensive end, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy — He’s really coming around to playing defensive end. He was a tight end as a junior for IMG. M’Pemba has continued to add mass and keep his speed at the same time, as well.
He will likely need a year or two of practice time to become truly big-time for the Georgia Bulldogs, but M’Pemba has all the upside in the world.
Elliot Washington, cornerback, Venice (Fla.) High School – Washington’s size and strength aid him with redirecting some of the receivers at Under Armour. Now, which spot in the secondary does he end up playing for the Penn State Nittany Lions?
With his overall talents, nickel corner, boundary corner or outside corner are all possible. Look for him to play as a freshman at Penn State.
Look for more updates from Under Armour practices coming up over the next few days.
Jan. 1 – Morning Update
Heading over to the Under Armour All-American Game practice in a little while to see numerous prospects compete. There will be updates about several prospects from the state of Florida.
Speaking of, it will be fun to see UCF signee John Walker mix it up with high-level talent during the UA practice.
The 6-foot-4 and 310-pound Walker played for Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola. He is expected to make an instant impact for the Knights.
As a reminder, updates (photos and videos included) later today from the UA practice. So check back with this article as it will be updated with more information.
Next, something that’s always good to see, a player getting in work.
One of Florida’s best, Darren “Goldie” Lawrence, is the player in the video below. He is from Sanford (Fla.) Seminole and had numerous college offers, including Florida, UCF, Miami, Louisville, West Virginia, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh, and decided to sign with Florida State.
Lawrence is one of the most competitive young men a person could meet. Good luck to him in Tallahassee.
Last for this update, a direct look at how important getting involved with young prospects can be.
Jaime Ffrench, a class of 2025 recruit, has been an obvious Power 5 prospect, based on his play during seven-on-seven action alone, for at least two years.
He has also been doing well for Jacksonville (Fla.) Mandarin. Ffrench has been playing since his freshman season.
He snatches the football out of the air like a big-bodied receiver, and also has the moves to gain a lot of yards after the catch.
Beyond Notre Dame, other offers include but are not limited to, Florida, Florida State, USF, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Coastal Carolina, Maryland, Ohio State and Michigan.
This is a young man that has a chance to be one of the state of Florida’s most highly coveted prospects.
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