The Florida high school state playoffs kick off this week with 192 teams competing in eight classifications.
Does the cream rise to the top? That answer is a resounding ‘yes.’
More than 90 of the top 100 prospects in the state helped lead their teams to the playoffs, according to Scout.com. Since most top prospects have made a verbal commitment at this stage, we will focus on some of the uncommitted prospects.
The first comes from Miami Booker T. Washington with linebacker Matthew Thomas and offensive lineman Denver Kirkland. They are expected to sign at the same school.
Miami and Florida State have been slugging it out for the past year and it is still considered a 50-50 battle at this stage. Miami has done well over the years at Booker T., but FSU has a commitment from another member of the senior class (Michael Johnson) and high interest from many younger players on the team.
Lake City Columbia offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil has Georgia and Alabama in front of the in-state schools, and he is considered by many to be the top OL prospect from the last decade in Florida.
South Plantation running back Alex Collins decommitted from Miami last week, but is still considering the Canes, as well as Florida State and Wisconsin. Collins could make a similar impact as T.J. Yeldon (Alabama), Duke Johnson (Miami) and Todd Gurley/Keith Marshall (Georgia) — four of the top running backs from the South last cycle.
Oakland Park Northeast wide receiver Stacy Coley can be compared to South graduate and Clemson standout Sammy Watkins. The silky smooth wideout is being recruited by Florida State, Miami, Ole Miss and Tennessee.
Dr. Phillips’ safety Marcell Harris will make his college choice Friday night and most expect him to pick Florida over FSU, Texas and Oklahoma. Harris would be a second-generation Gator.
The reigning Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Florida is Glades Central’s Will Likely. The 5-foot-8 dynamo could make an impact on either side of the ball and is still being recruited by Stanford, Wake Forest, Maryland and Vanderbilt.
That brings us to Immokalee cornerback Mackensie Alexander. Alexander took his second official visit last weekend to Clemson.
“I had a great time, and they showed me what I needed to see on defense,” said Alexander. “I think I can make an early impact there. I got to spend time with Sammy (Watkins) and Nuke (DeAndre Hopkins), and saw how the players get along and consider each other family. I like the low-key atmosphere and it seems like a quiet place where I can work to get better. Clemson is up there, but I will still be taking a couple of more official visits.”
Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee and Florida State will be vying for Alexander’s three remaining official visits.
Another category of prospects is those that have made a name for themselves in the playoffs.
Miami QB Ryan Williams entered the playoffs with no offers, but after leading Miramar to a state title he finished with four.
Last year Manatee’s Leon Allen (Western Kentucky), Plant’s Antonio Crawford (Miami), and Miami Central’s Errol Clark (Cincinnati) capitalized on strong playoff runs. Southwest Florida has 10 playoff teams this year and many can step it up. Some top candidates include: RB Manny Morgan (Naples), RB Devon Calhoun (Island Coast), DB Eric Wester (South), LB Sam Jones (Dunbar), TE Sheldon Fleming (East Lee) and RB Eric McFadden (Estero).