South Florida Football Prospects Impress at Florida Fire Tryout
John Garcia, Jr.
HIALEAH, Fla. -- After one final salute to former Florida Fire team member Bryce Gowdy, including a moment of silence, reflection, prayer and a dove release, the organization held its initial workout since the Georgia Tech signees tragic passing.
College football prospects in the class of 2021 and well beyond showed up in droves for the chance to make the 10th edition of the Fire 7-on-7 roster Sunday with hopes to join the likes of alumni Calvin Ridley, Riley Ridley, Jerry Jeudy, Eddie Jackson, Isaiah McKenzie, Binjimen Victor, Trayvon Mullen, Tiawan Mullen and a bevy of other college football and eventual NFL play-makers.
SI All-American was on hand and notes some of the performances on the day.
2021 QB Santino Marucci - A few hours before the rising senior passer committed to Wake Forest, he would perform as the most consistent arm of the day. Marucci has a sound release with a strong combination of arm strength and accuracy. He can throw with touch and flashes mature anticipation with the timing of his delivery. Already developed as a 210-pound talent with a wrestling background, Marucci looks physically prepared to play as a freshman should the opportunity present itself in the ACC.
2022 WR Jai-ayviauynn Celestine - On the first long connection of the afternoon, Celestine was on the other end. In addition to impressive ball tracking and body control, his speed and ability to separate was apparent every time he ran full tilt in this setting. The sophomore can stop and start without much delay and already has a strong route-running foundation as well. Celestine looks like the type you manufacture touches for both down the field and near the line of scrimmage.
2022 DB Marquis Lymon - One of the most well put-together defensive backs on hand, the sophomore also flashed some of the top technique on the day. Lymon backpedals with ease and control on a low plane and he can come out of it with power and range. Probably quicker than fast at this stage, he may project best as a safety or nickel at the next level. Lymon told SI All-American he is most comfortable at safety at this stage.
2022 WR David Jester - Already with an offer from Miami to his name, plenty more are likely on the way for this young wide receiver. He's already in the 6-foot-2, 180-pound range with good length and polish relative to his age. Jester can put together strong routes and transitions with a smoothness that commands attention as much as his size does. Add in strong hands and enough speed to keep a defender honest and he has the makings of a clear Power 5 prospect.
2021 QB Cedquan Smith - At first we saw the lefty out there throwing darts with gloves on both hands and then he looked perhaps the most comfortable in pushing the ball down the field with an easy, smooth release. Eventually the consistency and natural talent was evident even when the University of Georgia gloves came off and it was clear Smith was among the top performers regardless of position.
2021 WR Brandon Schabert - Arguably the most physically impressive pass catcher on the field, the junior has tangible athleticism and some ball skills on his side as well. Schabert stands a legit 6-foot-2, near 200 pounds and has already tested among the top wide receivers in Florida in the speed and agility department. On Sunday he won reps with ease down the field and also showed strong hands and feel for underneath routes.
2021 DB Antonio Ferguson II - One of many longer defensive backs in the 6-foot or better range on hand, Ferguson flashed as much ability to move at that size as any defender that day. He played patient when looking to affect receivers at the line of scrimmage but really shined in the leverage and awareness aspects of coverage. Ferguson stacked some of the faster offensive prospects on routine in both one-on-one and 7-on-7 settings.
2021 WR Michael Jordan - Another Coconut Creek (Fla.) standout related to the Mullen family, this wide receiver is built with great lower-body power. Put together on a 6-foot-1 frame, he can overwhelm defensive backs with his strength but can counter with better speed than his appearance suggests as evidenced by perhaps the play of the day in which Jordan hauled in diving touchdown with one hand on a ball that was slightly overthrown -- or so we thought.
2021 DB Keyshawn Winder - Another safety who looked comfortable enough to play cornerback if needed, Winder was among the best at affecting the receiver at the line of scrimmage. Armed with great length and leverage discipline, he didn't allow for much separation at any point in the coverage samples we saw. Even on a rep that looked like a clear loss, as Winder over-extended with his jam and lost his balance, he popped up from the turf and skied without a gather to affect the flight of the football. He comes off as a smart and versatile defender.
2021 QB Emile Bien-Aime - Another rising senior QB with a quick trigger, everything Bien-Aime did looked like it was in fast forward Sunday. His footwork was frantic, yet smooth, and his release matched it enough to make you think of what type of damage he could do in an RPO and/or up-tempo system.
There was also some star power among those taking in the workout, from alumni of the Florida Fire to those prep prospects nursing an injury or just getting a jump on what the final roster may look like.
It was hard to miss two towering young prospects in Shemar Stewart and James Williams. Stewart, fresh off of a 15-sack regular season, may be the top overall prospect in the country by the time the class of 2022 shakes out. Williams is a massive defensive back/linebacker hybrid in the junior class with the nation's top programs already heavy on his trail.