State of Florida recruiting watch list - 10/8/19

Andrew Ivins - 247Sports.com
Brian Smith

The Sunshine state produces talent in bunches, and from all over. 

Well, sometimes it’s from a concentrated area. In this case, just on the edge of Tampa, right along I-4 near Plant City.

Florida has long since been known as one of the premiere high school football states in the country. What makes it different stems from the amount of speed – regardless of position – that Floridians possess. Elite speed could come from a dual-threat signal caller, flex-tight end, or even a left tackle - think first step speed as it relates to pass setting. 

With all of this in mind, here’s a quick glimpse at three of the state of Florida’s best ‘speed’ players, some of which people need to know more about.

The Tampa - Plant City area is definitely one to watch. Two young men come from the same location. First, the traditional burner, Mario Williams, a 5-10, 165-pound wide receiver. Explosive, sudden, exceptional side-to-side quickness, and downright scary straight-ahead speed. Regardless of class, Williams possesses the most electric playmaking skills of any prospect in the Sunshine State, in my opinion. 

Williams can also jump over defensive backs and make plays with his leaping ability. A quick glimpse of Williams’ HUDL film verifies his overall credentials. Below are two clips of Williams from Friday, September 27 against Valrico and Friday, September 20 against Lakeland:

Bloomingdale High School

Bloomingdale High School

Lakeland High School

Lakeland High School

Look for Williams to continue to terrorize defenses for the rest of this season and next. Could he get even more explosive? That would be scary. What else stands out about Williams? Two traits come to mind from the two games I’ve watched him play live.

Beginning with competitiveness, Williams is always communicating with his coaches and teammates about the next play, regardless of the score. It’s on to the next play. He’s passionate; anyone can see that when watching him during and between plays. That drive and that hunger makes him an even more valuable player. Williams is always seeking different ways to make plays and score points. 

Next, versatility. As shown above within the HUDL clips, Williams can score by running past defenders, out jumping defenders, or juking them and leaving them grasping at air. He played some quarterback this year just to get him the ball in a different way, weaving through the Lakeland defense (and one of the best defenses in the country) for a score. Not knowing where Williams will line up is a headache for defensive coaches and players alike. Here’s one more clip of Williams from HUDL. Watch how Williams carefully sets up defenders with stop-and-start moves and just blows right past defenders with his elite speed and quickness:

Gaither High School

Gaither High School

Another Plant City product deserves to be on this list, although he does not play a traditional so-called speed position. Meet defensive end Cade Denhoff, who stands at 6-4, 225-pounds, and hails from Lakeland Christian of Plant City.

So why would a defensive end make a list of Florida speed players? That’s easy. Denhoff’s first-step quickness defines what a college football coach wants from a pass rusher. He’s capable of wrecking an offense’s running game or passing game by shooting gaps or bullying his way into the backfield via his first step explosion. Check out these clips of Denhoff from HUDL where the camera angle really allows the viewer to watch his feet and the explosion out of his stance:

The King's Academy

The King's Academy

Lake Placid High School

Lake Placid High School

The next steps for Denhoff will be like most young defensive ends. He needs to add good weight and strength, continue to improve his pass-rushing skills, and watch film. Now it’s on to an aforementioned wide receiver, Hall.

Agiye Hall, a 6-3, 185-pound WR from Armwood (Seffner, FL) is not your typical long-legged athlete. He’s explosive in and out of jump cuts, runs downhill with a nice stiff arm, and blows by smaller defenders. This past Friday I saw all of that in person, during one play, coming right at me – literally.

If only I had the video running. Every now and again, I dropped the camera and just watched the game. Mistake. Big mistake.

Pass to Hall at about the 20-yard line, he turns upfield and jukes the first defender and suddenly darts to his right. Boom, wards off a defender and heads for the pylon (and me standing literally right next to the pylon). Hall dives into the end zone and rolls on the ground. Six for Armwood!

Just like that, I missed a great moment, but it’s not one I will soon forget. Hall reminds me of a young Julio Jones. I do not say that lightly. He’s that physically gifted. If you want a prospect with immense upside, Hall is a great place to start. He’s a freak athlete that plays hard and the results follow. He’s a matchup nightmare. After a year or two in a college weight room, Hall will be over 200-pounds. Good luck defending him. Here are two of several Hudl highlight clips of Hall:

North Gwinnett Bulldogs

North Gwinnett Bulldogs

78-yard Touchdown Reception vs Plant

78-yard Touchdown Reception vs Plant

These are but three prospects the Gators will be pursuing over the course of the next year or so. It’s just incredible that all three of these players live right around the corner from one another, and any of three could pick his school. Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Alabama, and Texas A&M are just some of the programs involved with these young men.

It’s going to be fun chronicling the recruiting of all three players. It’s a blast to watch them play, too. Gator fans should get to know all three if they have not already.

Note: I am working towards a 2021 top in-state prospect list. Many of these players will end up being recruited by the Gators. Stay tuned!

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