BRADENTON, Fla. - IMG Academy had numerous top prospects competing again this past Thursday. After going through videos to further evaluate the intrasquad scrimmage, here are a few notes about several top recruits with national offers. We start with the class of 2023. Another article with the class of 2024 articles will come on Tuesday.
Note: Some players were out with injury and not everyone was evaluated.
Francis Mauigoa, Offensive Tackle
Absolutely massive, yet still built like an athlete. After seeing the big man on Feb. 17, when they went through the Under Armour Camp held at IMG Academy, he had the size. This time, he still holds the size, and Mauigoa looks much leaner. It’s obvious he’s taking his craft seriously.
During live action, Mauigoa was going against elite athlete Sam M’Pemba, one of the freakiest athletes in America. It was a good battle, with both players winning individual reps. It’s a good sign that Mauigoa can move laterally well enough to hang with M’Pemba when he goes laterally and speed rushes. Overall, Mauigoa has a tremendous upside.
Knijeah Harris, IOL
This young man is working hard. Harris shows that he is reshaping his body and learning the craft of playing guard and center. With him continuing to mold his technique, combining that with an even more athletic frame than last season, the Florida Gators commitment is trending upwards.
Now in the 340-pound range, Harris looks quicker out of his stance, and he also plays better in space. One thing he’s been doing is learning the nuances of playing center. If he can be a player that snaps, that will certainly add value to him and the Gators for the long term. With his size, he is definitely a power blocker. That’s probably Harris’s best attribute right now.
Sam M’Pemba, Edge Rusher
At one point in time, M’Pemba was being recruited as a hybrid linebacker, i.e. a combination of a safety and a linebacker. Scratch those ideas. M’Pemba is now 245-pounds. He’s pass rushing off the edge like a pure speed rusher. He’s still capable of doing different things on a football field, however.
M’Pemba shows the first-step quickness that will allow him to run down signal callers. He’s also athletic enough to run down running backs that are much smaller than him. Seeing him change directions and go after a running back or even a slot receiver places his athleticism at a very high level. In some situations, it’s plausible that he could drop into coverage despite his hulking frame.
The only questions are, how big does M’Pemba become? Then, what other roles does he take on besides being a pass rusher? If M’Pemba learns some of the nuances of playing in coverage, even if only during spot duty, he could be a superstar in college. For M’Pemba’s size, he’s as athletic a player as one will find.
Jordan Hall, Linebacker
Taking a really close look at how Hall moves is definitely worth the time. He’s a smooth athlete that is able to stay low when he chases, breaks down quickly for tackling situations, and he’s extremely athletic in space which helps him defend the pass. In fact, Hall just missed a pick-six where he saw the opportunity to run in front of a swing pass. He just came up a little short or it would have been a touchdown. He’s also filling out quite nicely.
Hall’s frame will allow him to play middle linebacker or weak side linebacker. Hall’s quickness helps either position, as noted above, and he’s a physical player while playing in the “trash” between the tackles. Hall’s old school mentality makes Hall a three-down linebacker, adding to his recruiting value.
Carnell Tate, Wide Receiver
As natural a route runner as there is in the class of 2023, Tate is capable of playing in the slot (which he did) or playing outside (which he did) in a traditional wide receiver role. Either way, he quickly gains separation versus defensive backs with a myriad of quick moves and utilizing his hands to fend off opponents.
When Tate gets into his route, that’s when he’s most impactful. He sits down in the zone to gain the most distance between defenders, and Tate understands how to stack a defensive back in man coverage. He’s well versed for such a young player.
He even shows excellent effort to catch up to a teammate, running back Jerrick Gibson, and help block before Gibson scores a touchdown.
Tate is likely to make an early contribution no matter which school he plays college football for.