A special thank you to all the mothers out there on Mother's Day...
TAMPA - Getting over a year head start on this list has its merits, as the class of 2023 is one of the deepest in Florida high school football history. The talent is good at almost all the positions, and it’s exceptional at wide receiver, defensive back, defensive line and running back.
This list is a combination of talent plus upside. It’s a projection towards the college football level and not what these young men are going to do this fall in high school. Next, This list is going to change after the summer months.
Those that put in the work and do well at camps, combines, and during personal workouts are the prospects with the best opportunity to move up the board. Keep in mind, and this is a huge factor, character traits influence this list. There are some prospects that moved up and some that moved down based on that category. Why? It’s the first question this scout receives when a college coach calls and asks about a prospect that’s been researched (and yes, that’s often also a major topic among two scouts communicating during private conversations).
College coaches want players that a sideline reporter can place a microphone in front of their mouth and that players will then represent their institution well with what he says and how he says it. That’s the bottom line, and it definitively impacts this list and many others as well.
Below the prospects, the notes section will add more information and context to the list.
Also important to recognize, none of the IMG Academy Players are on this list. There will be a separate article regarding IMG prospects later this spring after stopping by to see them practice.
1) Cormani McClain, CB/WR, Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson
2) Cedric Baxter, Jr., RB, Orlando (Fla.) Edgewater
3) Brandon Inniss, WR, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) American Heritage
4) Keon Keeley, DE/OLB, Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep - Notre Dame commitment
5) Troy Bowles, LB, Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit
6) John Walker, DT, Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola
7) Damon Wilson, DE, Venice (Fla.) High School
8) Richard Young, RB, Lehigh Acres (Fla.) Lehigh
9) Bryson Rodgers, WR, Zephyrhills (Fla.) Wiregrass Ranch - Ohio State commitment
10) Tyler Williams, WR, Lakeland (Fla.) High School
11) Malik Bryant, LB/DE, Orlando (Fla.) Jones
12) William Fowles, WR, Miami (Fla.) Dade Christian School
13) Antonio Robinson, CB, Miami (Fla.) Florida Christian School
14) Roderick Kearney, OL, Orange Park (Fla.) High School
15) Robby Washington, WR, Miami (Fla.) Killian - Miami commitment
16) Derrick LeBlanc, DL, Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola
17) Jalen Brown, WR, Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep
18) Jordan Hall, DT, Jacksonville (Fla.) Westside
19) Jayvant Brown, LB, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Saint Thomas Aquinas
20) Raymond Cottrell, WR, Milton (Fla.) High School - Georgia commitment
21) Wilky Denaud, DE, Fort Pierce (Fla.) John Carroll
22) Olsen Patt Henry, WR, Naples (Fla.) First Baptist
23) Keyon Brown, WR, Tallahassee (Fla.) Rickards
24) Ja’Keem Jackson, CB, Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola
25) Lewis Carter, LB, Tampa (Fla.) Catholic
26) Andy Jean, WR, Miami (Fla.) Northwestern
27) Lamont Green, Jr., DE, Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep - Florida State commitment
28) Elliot Washington, CB/S, Venice (Fla.) High School - Alabama commitment
29) Payton Kirkland, OT, Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips
30) Daemon Fagan, S, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) American Heritage
31) Darren “Goldie” Lawrence, WR, Sanford (Fla.) Seminole - Florida State commitment
32) Lucas Simmons, OT, Clearwater (Fla.) Clearwater Academy International
33) Robert Stafford, WR/CB, Melbourne (Fla.) Eau Gallie
34) Kaven Call, DE/OLB, Apopka (Fla.) High School - UCF commitment
35) Eugene Wilson, WR, Tampa (Fla.) Gaither
36) Sam Singleton, RB, Fleming Island (Fla.) High School
37) Clay Wedin, OL, Tampa (Fla.) Carrollwood Day School
38) Dayquavious Sorey, WR/LB, Graceville (Fla.) Chipley
39) Kenton Kirkland, S, Jacksonville (Fla.) Raines
40) Jaden Robinson, LB, Lake City (Fla.) Columbia
41) Kelton Henderson, WR/DB, Lehigh Acres (Fla.) Lehigh
42) Dijon Johnson, CB/S, Tampa (Fla.) Wharton - Ohio State commitment
43) Zachary Tobe, CB/S, Ocoee (Fla.) High School
44) Bobby Washington, LB, Miami (Fla.) Killian - Miami commitment
45) Damari Brown, CB, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) American Heritage
46) Gavin Hill, DL, Gainesville (Fla.) Buchholz
47) Reuben Bain, DE, Miami (Fla.) Central
48) Aidan Mizell, WR, Orlando (Fla.) Boone
49) Pearce Spurlin, TE, Santa Rosa Beach (Fla.) South Walton
50) Nathaniel Joseph, WR, Miami (Fla.) Edison - Clemson commitment
51) Hykeem Williams, WR, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Stranahan
52) Isaiah Nixon, DE/OLB, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood - UCF commitment
53) King Mack, S, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Saint Thomas Aquinas
54) Tyree Patterson, WR, Eustiss (Fla.) High School - Florida commitment
55) Raylen Wilson, LB, Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln - Michigan commitment
56) Cedrick Hawkins, S, Cocoa (Fla.) High School - Ohio State commitment
57) Mark Fletcher, RB, Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage - Ohio State commitment
58) Daniel Harris, OLB/DE, Melbourne (Fla.) Palm Bay
59) Treyaun Webb, RB, Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian
60) Jamari Ford, RB, Miami (Fla.) Northwestern
61) Asaad Waseem, WR, Ocoee (Fla.) High School
62) Bryce Lovett, OL, Rockledge (Fla.) High School
63) Jordan Castell, S/LB, Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange
64) Traylon Ray, WR, Tallahassee (Fla.) North Florida Christian
65) Braedon Marshall, CB, Lake Mary (Fla.) High School
66) Grayson Howard, LB, Jacksonville (Fla.) Andrew Jackson
67) Jaremiah Anglin, Jr., CB/S, Lake Wales (Fla.) High School
68) Harlem Howard, S, Pompano Beach (Fla.) Blanche Ely
69) Sharif Denson, CB, Jacksonville (Fla.) Bartram Trail
70) Tommy Kinsler, OL, Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic
71) Joquez Smith, RB, Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit
72) Chris Johnson, RB, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard
73) Conrad Hussey, S/CB, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Saint Thomas Aquinas - Penn State commitment
74) Ja’Bril Rawls, CB/S, Pensacola (Fla.) Catholic
75) Daniel Harris, CB/S, Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep
76) Ahmari Borden, WR, Quincy (Fla.) Munroe Day School - Stanford commitment
77) Santana Fleming, WR, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) American Heritage
78) Eddie Combs, WR, Rockledge (Fla.) High School
79) Sedrick Irvin, Jr., RB/WR, Miami (Fla.) Columbus - Notre Dame commitment
79) Andrew Harris, LB, Altamonte Springs (Fla.) Lake Brantley
80) Michael Harris, LB, Altamonte Springs (Fla.) Lake Brantley
81) Javin Simpkins, RB, Miami (Fla.) Norland
82) Isaiah Augustave, RB, Naples (Fla.) High School
83) Makari Vickers, S, Tallahassee (Fla.) John Paul II
84) Lamar Seymore, WR, Miami (Fla.) Northwestern - Miami commitment
85) Eddie Pleasant, CB, Tampa (Fla.) Carrollwood Day School - Michigan State commitment
86) Amaris Shaw, CB/RB, Winter Park (Fla.) High School
87) Isaiah Hardge, WR, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Saint Thomas Aquinas - Colorado commitment
88) Dylan Rizk, QB, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons - UCF commitment
89) Amare Ferrell, S/CB, Lake City (Fla.) Columbia
90) Chevaughn Hibbert, DT, Lakeland (Fla.) High School
91) Marcus Stokes, QB, Ponte Vedra Beach (Fla.) Nease - Penn State commitment
92) William Larkins, OL, Plantation (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna - Indiana commitment
93) Stanquan Clark, S, Miami (Fla.) Killian
94) Jaden Booker, RB, Naples (Fla.) Palmetto Ridge
95) Guerlens Milfort, DT, Lakeland (Fla.) High School
96) Jeremiah Shack, WR, Jacksonville (Fla.) Mandarin
97) Randy Pittman, TE/H-back, Panama City (Fla.) Mosley - Florida State commitment
98) Creed Whittemore, WR, Gainesville (Fla.) Buchholz - Florida commitment
99) Richard Dandridge, WR, Homestead (Fla.) High School
100) Shawn Russ, CB/S, Fort Myers (Fla.) Dunbar
The Eyes Do Not Lie
From this list, only four of the top 50 have yet to be seen live, and a grand total of 84 of the top 100 have been seen playing football with this set of eyes. That means a serious amount of first-hand research is the fundamental foundation for how the list is constructed.
This group of prospects is incredibly diverse. If the list would be expanded to a top 200, the same thing would be brought to light. Regardless of position group, it’s an incredible array of players that could move to multiple positions.
Playmakers on Both Sides of the Football
There are several players that change games with defensive ability, and that includes scoop and score as well as picking off passes and taking it to the house. Further, the massive defensive linemen across the state of Florida help to make plays for a defense even when they do not tackle the ball carrier because they are constantly eating up double teams which frees up other players.
Race for the No. 1 Player
Several players are good enough to be on top of this list, and there’s quite possibly several more that will evolve during the next several months when the list is revamped. It begins with McClain (Lake Gibson), a player that is being as heavily recruited as any player in America. Players like Walker (Osceola), Inniss (American Heritage), Bowles (Jesuit), Young (Lehigh), and others are all right there as well.
The Wide Receiver Board is the Deepest in Years
As noted in an article a few weeks ago, the wide receivers in the state of Florida are off the charts. There is just about every type of receiver one can imagine in abundance – shifty, fast, dynamic after the catch, and route runners – for college coaches to recruit.
If there’s an edge defender with more upside than Daniel Harris (Palm Bay), that’s hard to fathom. He’s still quite skinny, but the frame cannot be taught. It’s going to be interesting to watch this young man develop over the course of the next several seasons.
Berry (Blanche Ely), Hussey (Saint Thomas Aquinas) and Tyler Williams (Lakeland) are just a few of the players that are at the tip of the iceberg for what they could do long term.
In fact, one could argue that the aforementioned Williams has the highest upside of any player in the country, from where he is today, to three years from now. He’s been playing wide receiver only since last August. Imagine Williams after a long progression of receiver training. Few 6’4”, 195-pound receivers are as graceful as Williams, and fewer yet have his natural hands and speed along with his size.
Rawls (Pensacola Catholic) is a great example of so much talented that's under valued because of it not being in a prime location. There's a plethora of talent in the greater Tallahassee to Pensacola area.
Here's Rawls during a workout in December of 2021:
He Will Succeed
Few prospects are a more sure thing than Damon Wilson (Venice). Elite football IQ, attention to detail, and his physical conditioning is tremendous. Wilson’s length is also something that’s desired. He’s going to play very early at the college level and make an impact at that. The only question is, which position(s) will he play? Long term, Wilson could be a weak side or strong side end, and during third downs he’s capable of sliding inside and being a pass rusher. With a 420-pound bench, this is not one’s normal defensive end. He’s a monster.
Hall Makes Big Plays
Few people discuss Westside’s talented defensive tackle, big Mr. Hall (Westside). That’s their fault. He’s adept at penetrating and making plays in the backfield, eats up double teams and finds his way to the football.
Overall, he’s a player that just loves football. Walking up to Hall and seeing the large man from head to toe, it’s pretty easy to conclude he can play. Most importantly, his love and passion for football stand out. Hall gets after it and it’s awesome to watch from up close.
The Defensive Back Board
It’s utterly ridiculous. Having a CB/S that is ranked outside the top 40 in the state of Florida, yet is committed to Ohio State, would not normally make sense. That player, Dijon Johnson (Wharton), is still quite possibly going to end up in the top 20 of this list by season’s end. He simply needs to maximize his upside. The tools are there. Johnson is one to watch.
Obviously McClain (Lake Gibson) is a prime name, but there are more than five cornerbacks on this list that are physically capable of ending up being first round draft picks. That’s not the case with every class of cornerbacks. Further, there’s a lot of 6’0” and taller defensive backs in Florida this year. College coaches love that.
Out of all the receivers in Florida, Rodgers (Wiregrass Ranch) has continually shown the best ability to run routes. It’s a major reason why Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban and his staff continue to recruit the talented receiver despite his pledge to Ohio State.
Size Along the OL
Regardless if it’s Wedin (Carrollwood Day School) or Larkins (Chaminade-Madonna) or Kinsler (Trinity Catholic) or another big fella along the offensive trenches, size is a theme. All of these young men are in the 300-pound range or even larger.
Now, figuring out where each of them plays will be key. Is it offensive tackle, offensive guard, or maybe one of them could even snap and play center. Lots of upside with the 2023 Florida offensive line class.
This is just a starter list, nothing more. It’s still important to have a base to work from before the summer months when players will sharpen their skills at college camps, combines, and workouts. Let’s see which players make moves in the coming weeks and months. Who wants to get better and be a big-time player?