If you follow the NFL Draft, college football, or anything to do with Florida high school football recruiting, you know the Sunshine State produces cornerback talent at a very high rate. It’s certainly a lot of fun to watch, and this spring and summer produced many opportunities to see some of the top performers.
While it’s almost impossible to see all the top stars, here’s a list of top cornerbacks that played during tournaments, combines and spring games that these eyes were able to see. Keep in mind, there are numerous cornerbacks that were simply not seen enough to comment or pass along an evaluation. Further, many of these young men could play wide receiver or another position. It’s quite a versatile group.
There is no particular order for the following Florida prep cornerbacks.
Terrell Crosby, WR/CB, Saint Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood -- 2022
Playmaker. That’s Crosby. Whether he was beating a defensive back deep as a wide receiver (and that happened numerous times), or taking away an opposing team’s best wide receiver with man coverage, Crosby would rise to the occasion.
The most impressive aspect of Crosby’s defensive game would be anticipation. He consistently broke on the football and at least made the wide receiver earn catches, as well as took away yards after the catch with his instincts and body position. Crosby is arguably a better wide receiver, and that’s just scary.
Jaheim Singletary, CB/ATH, Jacksonville (Fla.) Lee -- 2022 -- Ohio State Commitment
While only seeing him during one tournament, it’s easy to understand why Singletary is such a highly coveted and highly ranked player. Singletary is a blast to watch. His ability to shift his body weight, while running full tilt, is something to see. Singletary is a special athlete regardless of sport.
While only seeing play in a couple of seven-on-seven games, it was necessary to mention this young man. It became quite apparent as to why he’s so highly regarded across the United States. Here’s to hoping for a chance to further evaluate Singletary down the line. Just a smooth athlete. The Buckeyes landed a talented cornerback.
Mack Mims, CB/WR, St. Augustine, (Fla.) High School -- 2022
From relative obscurity, Mims emerged as one of the best cornerbacks and wide receivers witnessed this past seven-on-seven season. That's why his photo is the cover of this article.
He’s best when the football is in the air. Mims will adjust to make the play, regardless of whether he’s playing cornerback or wide receiver, and take the football away from an opposing player.
Mims is much like Crosby. He will run by a cornerback in a heartbeat, and he will jump a route and score a pick-six just as quickly. Quiet by nature, Mims allowed his speed and ball skills to do the talking for him. He’s still not that well known, and some lucky college football program is going to stumble across this young man and be very happy when it does.
Cormani McClain, CB/WR, Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson -- 2023
Arguably the most talented 2023 Florida cornerback prospect, McClain is probably best described as a football player. He does not need a position title. He makes plays with the football in his hands as a wide receiver (where he actually prefers to play), as well as takes away opportunities for opposing wide receivers to catch passes because of his fluid movements, length, quickness, and open-field speed.
McClain is a rare talent. His hip swivel and raw athleticism aside, McClain is just scratching the surface of how good he can be. He’s rail thin right now, but his height is pushing 6’2” and he was roughly 6’0” just before Christmas. As the below video will show, he’s gaining strength. Good luck to those going against this top underclassmen moving forward, and he already has a plethora of offers for a reason. McClain could end up being a national top 10 prospect when all is said and done.
Nasir Bowers, CB, Lakeland (Fla.) High School -- 2022 -- Committed to Toledo
Sticking with the city of Lakeland, Bowers is a powerfully built young man that anticipates as well as just about any cornerback in the state of Florida. Based on how he played during the Venice Jamboree, Bowers attacks screen passes as well or better than any cornerback Florida has to offer, and he’s a good tackler in space. His athleticism also outshines his height.
Despite being 5’8”, Bowers is just electric. He moves side-to-side like few football players can, and he’s happy to defend big receivers or a quick slot receiver. Bowers is one of the more natural cornerbacks in the state, as he’s both physically and mentally locked in to playing the position now and for the long haul.
Nikai Martinez, CB/ATH, Apopka (Fla.) High School -- 2022
One of the best prospects the greater Orlando has to offer, Martinez is a player that could move to several different skill positions and thrive. Whether he’s lined up to play bump-and-run coverage against a top wide receiver, or he’s playing off coverage and utilizes his excellent change of direction to intercept a pass, Martinez is a savvy cornerback.
Few defensive backs understand how to adjust to big moments like Martinez. That’s why he’s a special defensive back mentally as well as physically. It would not be surprising if this long and lean cornerback ends up being a nickel corner for the college he decides to sign with. Martinez could also transition to free safety if a team needed. He’s battle tested and keeps getting better.
Ja’Cari Henderson, CB/ATH, Sanford (Fla.) Seminole -- 2022
Before the beginning of the 2020 football season, there probably were not that many football fans outside of Orlando that knew much about Henderson (or his twin brother Demari Henderson that plays safety). The brothers were likely more well known for their basketball exploits, as they commonly dunk on opposing players, and certainly deserve some hype for that.
As for the gridiron, few long-legged cornerbacks possess the ability to stop and start like Henderson. He’s just a little over 6’0” and weighs 161-pounds, so there’s plenty of room for physical strength gains as well. Until then, Henderson will just make plays in space and during jump-ball situations. He does so with speed more than anything else.
Henderson makes plays that 5’9” cornerbacks typically make; his lateral movements are big-time. That’s what makes his long-range projection so high and why college coaches from across the country now want Henderson (and his brother) to come to their respective institutions.
Greg Delaine, CB, Fort Myers (Fla.) High School -- 2022
Playing down in Fort Myers, not as many people are familiar with Delaine as say those along Florida’s Gulf Coast, especially those south of Sarasota. With that in mind, Delaine immediately stood out when watching him play against top Orlando, Tampa, and out of state competition.
This young man is the epitome of a long cornerback. Similar build to Henderson, as an example. He carries himself like a cornerback, and he plays aggressive defense whether it’s man-to-man coverage or zone coverage. Delaine is flying under the radar, but the way he played for 24K 7v7 this spring and early summer tells the tale. This young man is a legitimate talent.
Jaquise Alexander, CB, Tampa (Fla.) Catholic -- 2022
Looking for the prototypical twitchy cornerback from Florida? Look no further than Alexander. Playing for one of the nation’s most consistent winners along the seven-on-seven circuit, Team Tampa, Alexander absolutely stood out against top-notch players from Florida, Georgia and Texas. In fact, he won tournament MVP.
It was well deserved. This cornerback makes plays and it does not matter if he’s lined up out wide or in the slot. He plays much like Martinez; Alexander will use his intelligence to bait a quarterback into a bad decision. Once the football is in the air, Alexander’s speed and athleticism take over. He’s skyrocketed up several recruiting boards and for good reason. It will be interesting to see where Alexander ends up signing his college letter of intent.
As for cornerbacks that will be seen this fall, no question that Earl Little, Jr. is on that list. The Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage cornerback has serious talent. Just a player to keep in mind for anyone that might be able to see American Heritage during the 2021 football season.