10 things I learned from two weekends of the state championship games in Orlando, Fla. All video is in high definition.
1) I learned that signal callers Mike White and John O’Korn are two very good quarterback prospects. Both have great size. White is 6-foot- 5 and 195 pounds and O’Korn stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 205-pounds. They both have big arms and they both can run.
10 minutes after leading Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) University School to a state championship win over Madison County, USF offered White a scholarship. He committed to Willie Taggart right on the spot. Meanwhile O’Korn has been committed to Houston for some time. There’s no question he will pick up more offers just based off of his awesome state title performance for St. Thomas Aquinas in their win over Tallahassee Lincoln.
Mike White video
John O’Korn video
2) Speaking of quarterbacks, I learned that Zack Darlington (Apopka) is a very good looking recruit for the next class of 2014. His team defeated Cypress Bay 53-50 in one of the most thrilling high school football games you will ever see. He accounted for 254 yards passing and 130 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Darlington, 6-foot-1 and 190-pounds, showed why he will be considered a Division 1 quarterback next season. He has a strong and accurate arm. Darlington throws with velocity and touch and can make all the passes. He can also beat you with his legs, showing good speed, the ability to extend a play and run the football.
Zack Darlington video
3) I learned that Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cook are truly elite prospects in any given year. Put them in this current 2013 running back class in Florida of Alex Collins (South Plantation), Kelvin Taylor (Glades Day), Derrick Henry (Yulee), Ryan Green (St. Petersburg Catholic) and Greg Bryant (Delray Beach American Heritage) and they would both be battling for the state’s top spot at this position.
They are teammates at Miami Central and they helped lead the Rockets to their third consecutive state title appearance. Yearby has committed to Florida State while Cook has pledged to Clemson. The funny thing is that Yearby could turn out to be the better college player while Cook may have more long term upside. These two, along with Sony Michel (Plantation American Heritage) will all battle for the top overall spot in the state next season. Michel has the early edge for that No. 1 ranking.
Joseph Yearby video
Dalvin Cook video
4) I learned that Alex Montgomery, Matt Dayes, Keith Kelsey, Skai Moore and Jamerson Blount are all underrated prospects from the state of Florida.
Montgomery and Dayes had brilliant performances in the Weston Cypress Bay 53-50 loss to Apopka. Dayes rushed the ball 22 times for 174-yards and scored four touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 36 yards. On this night, he was a thoroughbred. He has good size at 5-foot-10 and 200-pounds. He runs with tremendous power. In fact, most of his yards came after first contact. He has good speed and balance and made a few ‘wow’ runs on the night when you thought the defense either had him stopped or pinned. Dayes was previously committed to N.C. State but has backed off his pledge.
Lightning wide receiver Alex Montgomery was equally as impressive. He caught nine passes for 199-yards and scored three touchdowns and had a key two-point conversion. Montgomery, 6-foot-1 and 195-pounds, made two spectacular touchdown receptions on virtually identical catches. Both were one-handed grabs over a defender draped all over him. Time and time again, when the Lightning needed to move the chains or need a big play in the passing game Montgomery was their go to guy. Montgomery was previously committed to Wake Forest but has opened up his recruitment.
Kelsey and Moore are both linebackers. Kelsey, from Gainesville High School, is 6-foot-2 and 215-pounds. He moves well laterally and downhill. Kelsey is aggressive and physical. He finished with double digit tackles even though the Hurricanes were outmanned from the start. Kelsey favors Louisville and USF.
Moore is from the University School and he committed to Rutgers just a few days after the Suns state title win. He was perhaps the player of the game. He finished with a game high 14 tackles and also had a critical sack and pressure on back-to-back plays very late in the fourth quarter to help seal their victory. Moore has good size (6-2/210) and is physical and aggressive. He plays with a nasty attitude and can find the ball. He looked very good against the run. And when Madison decided they had to go to the air in the final few minutes he showed he could rush the passer.
Blount is a free safety that has really good range and covers a lot of ground. He made a play on the ball in the first quarter against the Raiders on Friday night that was simply outstanding, as he came away with a pick. He actually had several pass breakups and played pretty well in run support.
In a few years people are going to be asking why didn’t these players end up at Florida State, Florida or Miami? The answer is simple – none of the big three, at least at this point, recruited and offered any of them.
Matt Dayes video
Alex Montgomery video
Skai Moore video
Keith Kelsey video
Jamerson Blount video
5) I learned that Treon Harris is an incredible athletic. Even with five-star teammate Matthew Thomas starring on defense for Miami Booker T. Washington against Jacksonville Bolles School, Harris was clearly the best player on the field.
Simply, Harris was phenomenal for BTW showing why he will be one of the most coveted recruits from the Sunshine State next season in the 2014 class. He passed for 245 yards and three touchdowns and added 74-yards more on the ground with two scores. Harris showed a big and accurate arm and unbelievable speed and quickness in and out of the pocket. At times he was electric.
Harris is the younger brother of former Hurricane defensive back Brandon Harris. He obviously has strong, strong ties to the Hurricane program. But will he end up at Miami? Harris is emphatic that he will play quarterback at the next level only he’s not of your pro-style classic variety. He needs to play in a spread attack so you can utilize his combination of run/pass skills.
Treon Harris video
6) I learned that Ohio State is getting a beast on the d-line in defensive tackle prospect Joey Bosa. Honestly, I haven’t seen him live in action since his sophomore year. His game has elevated leaps and bounds. First, this kid is enormous at 6-foot-5 and 270-pounds. Bosa has a good get off and is very strong and aggressive. I mean he’s always attacking and the best d-line prospect I have seen in person this fall. He flat out dominated Lincoln by himself, as they controlled the line of scrimmage. He will be a major force in the middle for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes.
Joey Bosa video
7) I learned that Taj Williams can also play cornerback. There was no doubt that this kid was viewed as a very good wide receiver at Lincoln. Many said he could also play defensive back. I had my doubts until I saw him play on Friday night. He has something few have which is great height for a cornerback at 6-foot-3. Recruit him to play this position. He can turn and run and he breaks on the ball well. If it works out then you have a rare, big corner. If it doesn’t pan out than Williams can always slide over to the other side of the line of scrimmage at wide receiver.
Taj Williams video
8) Speaking of Lincoln, I learned that super sophomore John Burt is the next big thing for the Trojans. He returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, breaking a tackle near mid-field and beating everyone to the endzone, showing great breakaway speed. He showed the same speed last month when I saw him play against Godby. Lincoln has been blessed to have produced some big time recruits over the years. He’s next.
John Burt video
9) I learned never doubt St. Thomas Aquinas. Ever.
Many did, especially half way through the season when they were 3-2 and struggling. Yet the last two weekends they beat the top ranked team in the country in Bradenton Manatee and then Lincoln. And it wasn’t even close. They did it handily. They dominated up front, got great quarterback play from O’Korn who runs a balanced attack with running back Fred Coppet and receivers Corey Holmes and Mark Barr. Well done Raiders.
Speaking of well-done, how about the job Ronnie Cottrell did with Godby, leading them to their very first state championship in 25-years? They won on the road (four straight) and no one thought they would get by Wakulla (first), Tampa Robinson (semi-finals) and Immokalee (finals).
10) I learned that not much has changed when you are playing teams from south Florida. They won four of the six eight state championship games they were in and Cypress Bay should have won against Apopka if not for a horrendous late hit call on the Lightning that negated a Montgomery interception. Booker T. Washington, St. Thomas Aquinas, Miami Central and University School all won their classes when Miami Dade Christian lost to University Christian from Jacksonville.
Now if we could only have a four-team playoff matching these teams. That would be fun now wouldn’t it?