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A Closer Look at Tampa Berkeley Prep Football Prospects

One of the rising Tampa prep football programs would be Berkeley Prep. The 3A program is coached by one of the most experienced coaches in Florida, and he has a talented roster to develop.

Florida is rich in prep football talent, and that extends across the state regardless of classification. One of the programs not many people truly discuss would be Berkeley Prep in Tampa, a 3A program. Head Coach Dominick Ciao leads this program, and if the pieces learn to fit together, the Buccaneers could be a formidable foe throughout the 2021 football season. There are several talented college-level football players that lead this program.

Whether it’s speed on offense, versatile defenders on defense, or a jack-of-all trades playmaker that can play on both sides of the football, Berkeley is an interesting school for college football coaches to recruit.

Class of 2022 Prospects

Here's a video describing, in detail, the attributes of each top Berkeley Prep senior prospect:

There is also a video of the top junior prospects below. Just scroll down.

Xavier Townsend

Xavier Townsend, Slot, Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep

Xavier Townsend, Slot Receiver, Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep - 2022

Vitals: 5’10”, 180-pounds 

Position: Slot Receiver

Recruitment: Committed to Iowa State.

Townsend is the versatile offensive weapon that defensive coordinators fear. He’s explosive from a two-point stance, changes direction extremely well, and he’s tough as they come. Iowa State landed a talented prospect.

Travis Bates

Vitals: 5’11”, 200-pounds

Position: Running Back/Strong Safety

Recruitment: Several schools are waiting to see him in person after two years of Covid-19 protocols cost him in-person spring visits from college coaches, as well as coaches seeing him play last fall. As someone that’s seen Bates play live multiple times, there’s little question that college coaches will like what they see when Bates performs in front of college coaches during the 2021 season. He’s a quick inside runner with a low center of gravity, churns out yards after contact, runs patiently behind his blockers, and will run over tacklers when needed. Bates could easily transition to safety as well.

TJ Bullard

TJ Bullard, Linebacker/Safety, Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep

TJ Bullard, Hybrid Linebacker/Strong Safety, Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep - 2022

Vitals: 6’0”, 185-pounds

Position: Hybrid Linebacker/Strong Safety

Recruitment: Committed to UCF

With tremendous change of direction skills and the ability to find the football like few others, UCF found a hybrid linebacker for the future Knights’ defenses. Bullard is about as lean as one can be at this juncture of his career. He should be at 200 or 205 fairly soon, and it will still look natural. High upside for this young man, as he’s one of those players that is seemingly always in the right place to grab an interception or pick up a fumble, too.

CJ Hawkins

CJ Hawkins, Tight End, Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep

CJ Hawkins, Tight End, Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep - 2022

Vitals: 6’6”, 225-pounds

Position: Tight End

Recruitment: Committed to Florida

Hawkins is in the basketball-to-football recruit mold of some of the talented tight ends that came before him. Tight ends that transitioned to the gridiron from the college basketball courts include players like NFL stars Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates and Julius Thomas just to name three. 

The way Hawkins moves with fluidity, he’s certainly a player with tremendous upside. His ability to change direction and do so naturally is rare for a player his height. Tremendous upside based on that alone; he also displayed natural pass catching skills during this spring’s seven-on-seven circuit.

Video description of each 2022 Berkeley Prep Prospect Listed Above:

Class of 2023 Prospects

The following video defines each underclassmen recruit written about in this article. There will be more detailed underclassmen information coming out after seeing Berkeley Prep play this fall.

Keon Keeley

Keon Keeley, Defensive End, Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep - 2023

Keon Keeley, Defensive End, Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep - 2023

Vitals: 6’6”, 229-pounds

Read More

Position: Defensive End

Recruitment: Committed to Notre Dame

After watching highlights of Keeley, as well as seeing him live versus Wiregrass Ranch during the spring game where he recorded two sacks, it’s no surprise that programs like the Irish offered. Keeley also earned offers from North Carolina, Louisville, UCF, Pittsburgh, Miami, Florida State, and Florida among others. 

During today's practice, Keeley impressed once again. He’s very nimble in tight quarters, provides lower body-to-upper-body explosiveness with a svelte frame (much like Hawkins, Keeley plays basketball). Keeley's long arms help him disengage from offensive tackles, and he’s just learning the nuances of utilizing his hands to knock away the hands of opposing blockers in general. He will be much more difficult to stop once he understands how to incorporate several pass rush moves. 

This young man is the definition of a true edge rusher. His ceiling is as high as probably any defensive end in the class of 2023. How far he goes will be up to Keeley’s work ethic and ability to learn from each coach that he’s tutored by.

Class of 2024 Prospects

Nihkil Jefferson

Nihkil Jefferson, OG/DT, Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep

Nihkil Jefferson, OL/DL, Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep - 2024

Vitals: 6’2”, 285-pounds

Position: Defensive Tackle/Offensive Guard

Recruitment: First offer already came from Rutgers.

With Jefferson’s explosiveness, he could turn into a highly coveted player. Flexibility was evident during today’s practice; flat feet in a three-point stance. Plays through his hips after engaging with another player. Demonstrated the ability to process information quickly on both sides of the football. Good lateral steps as a run blocker. His advanced size came with up-to-date mobility despite that size at an early age. Jefferson could play on either side of the football in college. Let’s see how hard he works and performs for Berkeley Prep this fall and that will determine how many offers this talented sophomore begins to receive.

Titus Bullard

Titus Bullard

Vitals: 6’2”, 205-pounds

Position: Edge

Recruitment: This is a potentially major prospect; check back at the end of the 2021 season.

The younger brother of UCF commitment TJ Bullard, the sophomore is already larger than his older brother despite being two years younger. Need to see more from the up and coming prospect before going too in depth about his football skills, but his athleticism and effort are undeniable. Watching Bullard beat smaller players during sprints was eye opening, and his first step consistently proved to be superior to the vast majority of players his size, especially at his age. This is a player that could end up at outside linebacker or permanently place his hand in the dirt and rush the passer. Twitchy athlete; exploded out and stayed low from a three or four-point stance.

Additional note: this is a program with more prospects than what's listed above. Berkeley Prep truly possesses a lot of up and coming talent.

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