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Tampa Catholic Football: First Look at the 2021 Crusaders

Tampa Catholic is one of the traditional programs within Western Florida, and the Crusaders’ overwhelming young roster looks to keep the tradition going. Here’s a preview of what Catholic has in store for 2021.

Good to see a scrimmage this morning from Tampa Catholic. Special teams, offense, defense, and situational live action were all involved with today’s practice. First up, an overview of thoughts about the offense and defense, then a synopsis of two of the many Catholic players that are prime candidates to end up playing college football that few people know about yet.

Catholic’s Offense Provides Skill to Compete, Size to Win

The Crusaders do not lack skill position talent, but there are battles for playing time at wide receiver and quarterback in particular. Further, despite a very talented quarterback depth chart, there needs to be chemistry developed between signal caller and pass catchers. We shall see next weekend when Catholic plays Sarasota High School if the passing game continues to progress. It’s early season, so time will tell.

Any one of sophomore Trey Hedden, junior Luke Gisclair or junior Luke Sather could trot out and be the starting quarterback against Sarasota. Hedden already holds an offer from the University of South Florida. His size (6’2”, 220-pounds) and arm strength were noticeable. Sather’s size (6’4”, 190-pounds) and arm talent were also noticeable. Gisclair (6’0”, 175-pounds) can also spin it. He could provide the best mobility of the three, and at some point that facet of his game should come into play during a Friday night.

All three signal callers provided really good passes throughout the scrimmage. Now, one of the three needs to take the lead and become the leader in the clubhouse. Let’s see which quarterback emerges. The running backs, meanwhile, will certainly help the passing game.

The rushing attack is potentially lethal in fact. There are some glitches to amend with timing between running backs and offensive linemen, but the overall viewing today witnessed multiple big plays by two separate running backs. Sophomore Nehiem Doctor (5’8”, 205-pounds) notched a couple of long touchdown runs, and senior Desmond Daniels (5’9”, 200-pounds) runs with a ferocity that is infectious. 

Desmond Daniels, Running Back, Tampa (Fla.) Catholic - 2022

Desmond Daniels, Running Back, Tampa Catholic

He, too, also found himself in the end zone more than once. There will be an ‘icer’ that enters the lineup as well, but save him for further discussion later.

At wide receiver, there are several players attempting to emerge. Could sophomore TJ Moore or another young pass catcher be the main man? Possibly. Much will hinge upon the quarterbacks, as noted above, and there are defensive players that could play both ways as well. Up front is where the Crusaders are most interesting.

Massive. That’s the first item about Catholic’s offensive line. Sophomore Eddy Pierre-Louis gets most of the attention in part because of his older brother Richard Gourage being a starting offensive tackle for the University of Florida, as well as his own offer list that’s already impressive (SEC, ACC, etc.). He’s not even the biggest Crusader upfront. Considering Pierre-Louis is 6’4”, 315-pounds, that’s a mighty big offensive line. 

Pierre-Louis provides unusual short-range striking power and the ability to run his feet after contact. He needs to be more consistent with his technique and hustle more between snaps, but his upside is tremendous. Beyond Pierre-Louis and the overall size, it’s a unit that continues to mesh together to be cohesive.

The objective of an offensive line is to play together. There were a handful of plays that were spot on and opened gaping holes. Then again, penalties and mental errors cost them in the rushing game. It’s the little things that need to be fixed, but it’s fall camp. Fixing those issues is what fall camp is all about. The running game is still the bread and butter for Catholic.

When it’s time to run downhill, Catholic can and will tote the football very well. The offensive line just began to gel, and it could be really impressive by season’s end. Also of note, three of the five offensive linemen are underclassmen, and all five starters should play some level of college football. Again, truly talented, but needs to gel.

Speed and Youth Combine for an Intriguing Catholic Defensive Unit

Switching over to the defense, the Crusaders possess several young defensive lineman that could emerge and be major college prospects. For the purpose of simplicity, know that all four defensive line positions could develop a player that eventually reaches the college football level. Junior Baraka Andrews (6’1”, 290-pounds) leads the way along the interior, with multiple talented underclassmen also playing with him (see below for profiles of two additional defensive lineman).

Linebacker moved to the football and played aggressively, but much like the offensive line, needs to gel. There also needs to be more depth created throughout the rest of fall camp, but a headliner leads the position and the team. That player is Lewis Carter. The junior (6’0”, 210-pounds) holds offers from several programs like LSU, Florida, Miami, Auburn, Penn State, and Georgia to name a few.

Lewis Carter, Linebacker, Tampa (Fla.) Catholic - 2023

Lewis Carter, Linebacker, Tampa Catholic

On the gridiron, Carter displayed several instinctual plays against the run, including blowing up a reverse where he held his ground and waited for the play to come back to him, as well as reading the quarterback and jumping a flat route.

Carter could also be that ‘icer’ that ends the game as a running back late in the fourth quarter. He’s all business once the ball is hiked, and he can run around or through tacklers when he is inserted into the offensive backfield. He did not play any running back today, but considering his talent it’s hard to imagine Catholic not playing Carter on offense as well.

In the secondary, Catholic boasts one of the best cornerbacks in Florida in senior Jaquise Alexander. He was one of the best seven-on-seven cornerbacks from this past spring and summer, and he’s building recruiting momentum. He can erase many mistakes with his quickness and athleticism.

Jaquise Alexander, Cornerback, Tampa (Fla.) Catholic

Jaquise Alexander, Cornerback, Tampa Catholic

At the other defensive back positions, Catholic can move pieces around. There will not be a short supply of speed, that’s for sure. Now, can they play as a unit and be consistent? If yes, this is going to be a really good defensive unit by mid-season at the latest.

There are several talented players in the front seven to go after the signal caller, so the defensive backs could be in several enviable situations with wounded ducks coming their way as opposing quarterbacks make desperate heaves towards a wide receiver, off a back foot no less.

Here’s a first look at two of the underclassman defensive line prospects for Catholic:

Joseph Doston - #44

Joseph Doston, Defensive End, Tampa (Fla.) Catholic - 2024

Joseph Doston, Defensive End, Tampa Catholic

Vitals: 6’3”, 215-pounds

Position: Defensive End

Class: 2024

First-step quickness, lateral range of a linebacker, and the length to excel as an edge defender. Needs added strength and to continue to develop hand technique to reach his potential. Doston, only a sophomore, showed a nice two-hand swipe move during one rep, and he’s good at keeping his hips low after contact in an effort to see where the football is before going full bore to reach the ball carrier. He has a chance to develop into a very good college football prospect. Long way to go with strength and technique overall, but he has three years of prep football to develop both skills.

Read More

Xavier Porter - #13

Xavier Porter, Defensive Tackle, Tampa (Fla.) Catholic - 2024

Xavier Porter, Defensive Tackle, Tampa Catholic

Vitals: 6’3”, 250-pounds

Position: Defensive Tackle

Class: 2024

When Porter decides to “go” he’s a handful. He demonstrated the quickness of the snap and the hand placement to disengage from offensive lineman that a scout wants to see from a young three technique. Power already started to develop. The next phase of Porter’s development will becoming confident in multiple pass rushing moves, as well as understanding the nuances of playing the run while being double teamed. Both situations will come with time. He already looks like he’s a senior in high school.

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