On Sunday morning, I made the drive to Fort Lauderdale to watch 150 of the Florida’s best college football recruits compete at the Under Armour All-America Game camp.
UA camps are among the most selective, which means more reps for the elite players, and thus more opportunity for evaluation. The Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators were popular discussion topics. So were Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Stanford.
John Dunmore was the best offensive player I saw
Out of Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna, the 6’3 receiver dominated again, just as he did the previous weekend at a seven-on-seven camp. Dunmore is the best receiver I have seen so far in Florida for the 2018 class. He consistently works to get a clean release, has strong hands, and has good deep speed. He can vary tempo to lull defenders. Dunmore uses space well and can sit down in voids in a zone. Dunmore earned an invite to the Under Armour All-America Game next winter in Orlando for his performance.
Kaiir Elam was the best defender I saw
Out of the Palm Beach Benjamin School, Elam is an elite talent. He is 6’1.5, 180 pounds, and has top-notch athleticism. That sets the ceiling for a cornerback.
But it’s his floor which also is so impressive. Many times, I’ve seen recruits at these camps give less than maximum effort during the positional drills, instead saving themselves for the 1v1 portion.
Not Elam. He went max effort on every rep I observed, actively looking to make himself better. Camp coaches who played in the NFL noticed as well, and combined with an elite performance in the 1v1 period, Elam earned an invite to the All-America Game, too.
Here’s some scoop on other 2019 standouts.
Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas standout DB Jordan Battle just keeps getting better and better. The 6’2, 185-pounder came away with multiple interceptions on the day, earning an invite to the All-America Game in the process. Ohio State is in excellent position with Battle, who has a tremendous relationship with coach Larry Johnson, he said.
An intriguing thing about Battle is he has a lot of room to grow physically. I would project him to easily be over 210 pounds in college. If he can play safety at that size, he’ll be special. And even if he has to be a hybrid safety/linebacker, well, there is a lot of room for that as well with the proliferation of the spread in college football.
Tennessee defensive back commitment Te’Cory Couch also earned an invite to the prestigious all-star game. Couch is small at 5’9, 150, but he has excellent quickness and is a pest in the hip pockets of opposing receivers. Couch is still verbally committed to Tennessee, but it’s not over by a longshot for the Vols, as the Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna defensive back will be taking his visits, including one to Michigan in April.
Another short corner who had a strong day was Jaden Davis, also of nearby St. Thomas Aquinas. The 5’9 Davis has good quickness, change-of-direction ability, technique, and instincts. I spoke with Davis a week ago and get the sense that his recruitment is shaping up to be a battle between the Gators and Hurricanes. The top out-of-state schools vying for his signature appear to be Oklahoma and Ohio State.
In the era of the spread, it can be hard for teams to find traditional “Y” tight ends, but Nikolas Ognenovic fits the bill. Out of Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons, the 6’6, 240-pounder looks like he has plenty of room to grow, yet has made a number of impressive catches in recent weeks. He currently holds offers from Boston College, Kentucky, Pitt, and Syracuse, but it wouldn’t surprise me if schools running traditional offenses like Michigan or Texas A&M look his way soon. Ognenovic is currently unrated, and is yet another example of why fans should not take recruiting rankings too seriously this early in a cycle.
Florida Gators offensive line commit Wardrick Wilson, of Miami Norland High School, had a better day Sunday than he did at the Nike Miami Opening event a month ago. Wilson has a good, wide build at 6’4, 310, and the area I was happy to see him improve in was his patience. Pass protection isn’t passive, but the aggression needed to do it must be controlled. Wilson did not lunge as much at this event as he has in the past. Instead, he trusted his technique and timing. Wilson is solid in his commitment to the Gators.
Florida State defensive line commit Mike Morris didn’t participate because he is still recovering from an injury. Morris badly wants to be back on the field playing, but knows that it’s important to not re-injure his labrum by coming back too early. Morris has been keeping in good shape, though, and looked a trim 6’6, 270. His frame suggests if he continues to grow, he could easily end up at defensive or even offensive tackle. Morris is getting to know the new coaching staff at Florida State better, and is also being recruited hard by Miami.
Miami commit Renato Brown had a good day during drills and competition. The Palm Beach (Fla.) Central lineman offers a ton of versatility, as he projects to be a plus player at either defensive tackle or offensive guard. While he does plan to take visits including Alabama, Florida, and Penn State; Brown is solid in his commitment to the Hurricanes. He listed Gurvan Hall and Jonathan Garvin as good friends on the current roster, and made it to a handful of games in 2017, including the Virginia Tech game.
Aquinas linebacker Jahmar Brown was another impressive prospect at the event. The former Miami Pace player is very athletic, and is also a great student. Brown has a 3.5 GPA and feels great about the SAT he took last weekend. He has been hearing a lot from Stanford, and will visit April 6. Brown hopes to visit South Carolina the last weekend in March, and also has interest in visiting Miami, Oklahoma, and Ohio State.
Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) University School safety Tyler Scott is a versatile player who could play a variety of roles in the secondary at 5’10, 180. And Stanford is on him as well.
If Scott gets the test score to go to Stanford, is it a wrap?
“Pretty much,” Scott said, smiling.
If it’s not Stanford, Florida is another serious contender. Scott describes the new Florida staff as having “more excitement.”
“Mullen was there before, and he’s trying to bring it back to where it was,” Scott said. “They do a better job of selling it than before.”
Scott also likes Louisville.
He doesn’t have a great ceiling due to his size (6’1, 280), but Miami Central guard Maurice Smith is going to make some college football team very happy. Smith plays mean, with good leverage and balance. He claims offers from Boston College and Indiana.
And let’s meet some young guns in the classes of 2020 and ‘21.
Two class of 2020 members earned invites to Under Armour’s “Future 50” event, which is strictly for underclassmen the week of the All-America Game.
The first was defensive end Samuel Anaele, of Miami Doral Academy. At 6’4 and 240, the Miami Hurricanes commit looks like he is about 25 years old, but the Nigerian native is just 17. Anaele keeps getting better and better as he plays more football.
The other invite went to Bryan Robinson, a receiver out of Palm Beach Central. Robinson is another player who physically looks like he is already in college. Florida, Georgia, Miami, Penn State, and Tennessee have offered, among others.
Miami Belen Jesuit running back Don Cheney Jr. was one of the best backs on the day. He told SB Nation that Miami was his leader, and Ohio State was the top out-of-state threat to sign him, but he’s not ready to make a commitment just yet.
Florida signed elite cornerback Chris Henderson out of Miami Columbus in the class of 2017. Now it is trying to land another member of the Henderson family: Xzavier Henderson. The younger Henderson has a very similar tall, lean build like his brother. He could eventually be 6’3, 200 and end up as a premiere safety or receiver.
Two players from the Hialeah (Fla.) Champagnat Academy impressed. Even at an overweight 350-plus pounds, 2020 guard Jovens Janvier still made good blocks. If Janvier can get his weight in check, his offer list should explode. Receiver Johnquai Lewis is probably 6’1, 170, and consistently got open against good competition. Syracuse and NC State have offered.
Majon Wright, a 2020 jumbo receiver at Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons also had a good day. Wright is the little brother of former Florida star Major Wright, but said Ohio State is his “dream school.”
2020 prospects Marcus Rosemy and Henry Gray also balled out. I profiled them last week in a rundown of elite recruits in that class for southern fans to know.