Seydou Traore a Prospect to Know Just Three Games Into Prep Career
John Garcia, Jr.
"Hot. Like, hot."
Arriving in Clearwater, Florida on September 12 to chase college football dreams in America, that's how Seydou Traore described the heat 'smacking' him in the face when he set foot on the fertile Florida soil.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound European is a senior at Clearwater Academy International. He was a late add to the Knights' roster, but a welcomed one.
There had been a buzz about this wide receiver prospect from England in the local recruiting scene. SI All-American was then sent this Tweet.
Naturally we went to see Traore at work as soon as we could, Friday night, and it didn't take long to see flashes of the potential (video above).
The learning curve was about as steep as possible for the raw class of 2021 talent as CAI faced three-time defending Class 3A state champion and regional power Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna. The Lions feature multiple FBS prospects at defensive back including Auburn commitment Brian Dilworth, whom the new footballer spent most of the night facing.
Traore would register four catches for about 40 yards, including an acrobatic catch on a pass that seemed sure to scurry out of bounds. Both sidelines audibly gasped when he hauled it in. But it was not a catch, but a rep, in which he flashed the most.
A strong push off the line and acceleration enabled him to get behind Dilworth before he stacked the future SEC defensive back and nearly hauled in the deep shot from Luca Stanzani.
"I was waiting for a breakout game, not sure if this was it," he said after the game, a 44-34 loss.
Born in France to a French-Algerian mother and Ivorian father, Traore was raised in the United Kingdom and eventually made his way to the NFL Academy in London. He is still adjusting to life in a new country, new teammates and frankly a new game.
The last three Fridays represent his first 11-on-11 football games of his life.
"I played in some small leagues, 9v9s, but this is my first piece of it," he said. "Man, it's fast. There's someone everywhere, your head is constantly on the swivel and you never know where the next person is going to be. And the speed, everyone is moving.
"I think, for a big athlete, I get in and out of my breaks pretty well. Strong hands and I can deliver."
The five weeks in the U.S., of course including a quarantine due to COVID-19 protocols, have been about the work. Traore is on top of his academics and hasn't quite had that time to get too deep into college football in the states or even get homesick.
"Everyone asks that," he said with a laugh. "It still hasn't hit me yet, I hope it doesn't hit me. I'm just glad to be here, I just need to put on a show and carry on to the next level."
SI All-American can confirm interest from multiple FBS programs, including an ACC member, though Traore doesn't yet hold any official scholarship offers.
"I hear schools are interested, but without tape, it's hard for schools to offer you," he said. "I'm trying to play with schools that put the ball out there and give wide receivers a chance."
Traore got just one practice with the Knights in before his debut game and has been worked into the game plan more and more each week.
The focus remains on his game and growth in the meantime.
"Right now I feel like I can move excellent at this weight," he said. "I'm hoping, gradually, to put on a few pounds but all in due time. No need to rush it.
"Being here for a while now, running more, I'm getting used to it."
There's little doubt of the raw talent at play here, something similar to one of the NFL wideouts Traore looks up to.
"DK Metcalf has come into the league and gone crazy," he said. "And then Julio (Jones), it sounds cliché because everyone loves Julio, but that guy -- to do that kind of stuff at that size -- I aspire to do that kind of stuff.
"Route running, that's one thing I really try to take from Julio. He has the ability to move like he's 5'8'' with his hips low to the ground. He can move. That's what I'm working on, and attacking the ball."
In between class, practices and the new Friday night ritual of playing against great high school teams, the blend of international and local talent on the CAI roster creates quite the verbal dynamic.
Traore is the second Londoner to be added to the 2020 roster, following defensive lineman Dimitri Madden.
"He came before me so he was kind of the London guy, but he adapted to the (local) accent very quickly," he said. "So with me everyone is still a bit like, 'oh yours hasn't changed yet? Still with the London accent?'
"I kind of like the lingo of the American accent."
The recruiting lingo is another element Traore is likely to pick up as the rest of the season plays out, particularly when it comes to verbal scholarship offers, virtual visits and eventually a college commitment.
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