LOS ANGELES, California — Thirty-two teams gathered over the weekend for one of the most talented 7v7 tournaments in the country. South Florida Express went a perfect 10-0 and won almost all of its games in blowout fashion.
Here, I’ll present the 2019 standouts, and on Wednesday, will follow up with the underclassmen.
Express featured two of the nation’s truly elite receivers in Miami (Florida) South Dade’s Frank Ladson, and Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna’s John Dunmore. At 6’5 and 6’3, respectively, with the level of athleticism you’d expect, they presented a huge problem for defenses, especially when considering all of the shorter, lightning-quick slot receivers Express has. Someone was going to be wide open on almost every play, even against elite competition.
Ladson is just scratching the surface of his potential. The basketball player has blazing deep speed, and will flash the ability to play the finer points of the position. You can see the potential to be an absolute superstar. Once he fills out and gets more reps, he’s going to be a problem. He also claims a 3.7 GPA.
Ladson identified three coaches with whom he’s tightest: Clemson’s Jeff Scott, Miami’s Ron Dugans, and Florida State’s Telly Lockette. He is also talking to Alabama’s Joe Pannunzio. With a busy track and spring football schedule, Ladson doesn’t have many visits locked in, but does plan to get back to Clemson for its spring game. At this point, I’d say Clemson is the favorite, though he wouldn’t say it.
For Dunmore, nothing has changed since we spoke in March. He’s still calling Florida State his “dream school,” still has great relationships with FSU WR coach David Kelly and Penn State WR coach Ja’Juan Seider, is still taking his official visit to Michigan this coming weekend, and doesn’t want to commit any time soon. Dunmore has some of the best hands in the country.
Kenny McIntosh, the little brother of Miami defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh, is listed as a running back, but he showed off some incredible catches. The Ft. Lauderdale University School standout is expected to go to Miami.
Another name to watch was Jaylin Young, who has an interesting background and has been lightly recruited. He didn’t play his sophomore year at Hallandale (Fla.) due to academics, but is up to a 2.7 and has transferred to Miami Central. Young somehow didn’t get tired during the 10-hour tournament, still blowing by defenders. I am expecting his recruitment to take off.
QB Nick Scalzo, of Ft. Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons also had a strong tournament. He was better at knowing where to go with the football, and getting it there quickly, than I had seen in previous tournaments. Kentucky is a top contender.
Every starter on the Express defense has major college offers, except for one. I’ve been a big fan of Jarvis Brownlee Jr. since Express’ tryouts in January.
2019 DB Jarvis Brownlee Jr moving well for 6'0 176 @Touchmoney_11— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) January 13, 2018
And he has continued to impress. Brownlee has a great temperament for a defensive back, he’s athletic, and he’s super competitive. He’s just made play after play, and his high school film is good, too. The Opa Locka (Fla.) Carol City star recently picked up Syracuse, and he told me he thinks an offer from NC State could be on its way. The Wolfpack would be smart to do that soon.
Tyrique Stevenson, Jaden Davis, and Te’Cory Couch were their normal excellent defensive back selfs. I wrote about the trio here recently. I like Miami for Stevenson, Florida for Davis (though I am less sure of that now), and think we’ll learn more about Couch after his trip to Michigan next week.
Jordan Battle continues to be great, and I wrote about him here two weeks ago. Battle is visiting Ohio State this weekend and Oklahoma the next. I expect him to be a Buckeye, though his dad was wearing a Miami T-shirt on Sunday.
Ft. Lauderdale University School safety Josh Sanguinetti continues to be a player to watch. He is super athletic and had two interceptions in the championship round. Miami seems to be the team to beat, but watch out for Stanford.
Other players from Florida
Auburndale defensive end Lloyd Summerall said Georgia and Florida State are still his best relationships, and he’ll be back at FSU for his spring game.
Lakeland Kathleen’s Brendan Gant was impressive. Gant is a big safety. He could grow into a linebacker in some systems. But he played cornerback out of necessity for his team and showed good change of direction.
Players from California
Braedin Huffman-Dixon, a top receiver out of Santa Ana Mater Dei is high on Colorado, along with schools like Arizona State and Oregon. He has good upside and room to fill out.
Everyone I asked is convinced that Bellflower St. John Bosco five-star cornerback Chris Steele is heading to USC, despite rumors to the contrary. “Watch, he’s someone who cares about the name,” a source said.
Orange Lutheran WR Kyle Ford hasn’t been able to take many trips this spring, due to his baseball schedule. He wants to get to Colorado again and plans to attend Oregon’s spring game. Ford also wants to take a trip to see Michigan. Ford said those three, USC, and UCLA are standing out. His tightest relationship is with Colorado coach Darrin Chiaverini. The two remaining offers Ford wants are Ohio State and Clemson. He is not planning to enroll early. Ford is a really built receiver with excellent body control.
Gardena Junipero Serra cornerback Max Williams had an excellent tournament. He missed Day 1 for a trip to Stanford, and was super excited about the Cardinal. Williams said Stanford told him he has an excellent chance to start as a freshman, and he has a strong bond with defensive backs coach Duane Akina. He plans to return for an official. Other official visits include Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC, and Oregon. Williams is on the smaller side at a generous 5’9, 170 listing, but he makes play after play.
San Bernadino Cajon receiver Darren Jones and QB Jayden Daniels were impressive. The hookup they show on Friday nights remained consistent as Daniels looked for Jones when there was trouble. Jones is intriguing at close to 6’8 and, at least for his size, pretty athletic. I’d like to see him in some drills to see his agility. Oregon is a strong contender.
Daniels was coming off a trip to see the Gators and Seminoles.
“Going to Florida, I’m going to remember the weather. Humid. They took us by the swamp. We saw some Gators,” he said. I thought Daniels meant Florida’s stadium, known as the Swamp, to see some former Gators legends and statues. But he clarified that he was shown actual alligators, and he liked it.
I don’t get the impression Florida was recruiting Daniels as seriously as Florida State, based on his answers about other schools.
“They treat us like our family when we got there,” Daniels said of FSU. “They took us around to see different areas of Tallahassee and campus. We saw FAMU.”
Daniels cited the signing of a former 7v7 teammate, five-star safety Jaiden Woodbey, with the Seminoles as a factor.
“I see why he decided to go out there,” He said. “The energy, the vibe that Coach Taggart is bringing. It’s just a different energy and vibe.”
But distance will matter.
“It’s going to play a factor. But anywhere you go, you could be homesick. The big thing is, can I see myself living there?”
Daniels identified four coaches with whom he has the best relationship.
“Coach [Troy] Taylor from Utah, [Marques] Tuiasosopo from Cal, and I’m starting to build one with Coach [Walt] Bell and [Willie] Taggart at Florida State.”
Daniels wants to narrow it down before the season, take his trips, and make a decision.
“I care about the relationship, the fit, and seeing if I could live there.”
His idol is the “cool, calm, collected” Deshaun Watson.
Santa Ana Mater Dei cornerback Jeremiah Criddell was also on the trip to Florida with Daniels. Criddell seems more open to coming east.
“It was really big time. We see a lot of guys from Cali are starting to make that move,” he said.
“UF was different. It was like the swamp life. A lot of Gators, a lot of snakes, stuff like that, it was really humid.” he said. “But player-wise, they just have a different grind. The incoming freshmen are gonna take somebody’s spot and play right away.”
Criddell had never seen a gator in person before, and he liked it.
He was already familiar with Florida State.
“My brother Jaiden Woodbey is up there. He’s like a big brother to me. We talk a lot,” Criddell said. “Seeing him from Cali — I lived next to him — seeing him make that transition and see how that’s happening for him there and how he’s just balling there, you can’t get anything better than that.
“Most people were looking at Woodbey as an SC product, thinking he’d stay home. The farthest people go sometimes is like [the Arizona schools], but going all the way out there, it sets no boundaries. We can do anything.”
“Coach Taggart at Oregon was my second offer, and he knows my mom. That relationship is still really tight. When we were in his office, it was like he never left. I met the DC and all the coaches, and it’s a big family.”
Criddell wants to commit before the season starts. He expects Washington, Oregon, and Florida State to be on his list, and maybe USC. He’d like to hear from LSU.
Moreno Valley Ranch Verde safety Jaxen Turner had a strong tournament. UCLA could be a school to watch.
Players from Georgia
UGA receiver commitment Jadon Haselwood was perhaps the best player I saw in the tournament. He is officially visiting Oklahoma on April 13, but I believe from chatting with him that he is locked in with the Bulldogs.
Marietta receiver Ramel Keyton, who stands 6’3, looked good throughout the weekend. Keyton was at Auburn last week and said that he enjoyed seeing the Tigers’ coaches in action. Keyton’s mother made a trip up to check out Tennessee over the weekend. Keyton’s working top six is Ohio State, Auburn, Miami, Penn State, Ole Miss, and Tennessee. He said his tightest relationships are with Tennessee and Auburn. He wants to enroll early.
I was impressed with the play of Jalyn Phillips, a safety from Lawrenceville Archer, who played a lot of corner over the weekend. Phillips has an official visit on April 13 to Oklahoma, and has visited Tennessee (twice), Auburn, Clemson, and Georgia in March. Phillips said Oklahoma and Alabama are “locks” to make his final list. Phillips has a great relationship with DB coach Kerry Cooks at Oklahoma.
Jaylen McCollough, a four-star safety out of Powder Springs Hillgrove, had a strong tournament with multiple interceptions. McCollough is a muscled safety, so I wanted to see how he would do in a non-contact setting, and I came away impressed.
McCollough was excited to get to Alabama’s spring game on April 21 and is figuring out which visits to take. As an early enrollee, McCollough plans to take a few officials in the spring. He has visited Tennessee and South Carolina. Tennessee DB coach Charles Kelly recruited and coached his dad in college.
Also playing corner was safety Kenyatta Watson, and doing a good job of it. The Loganville Grayson product looked the best I’ve seen of him. Texas may hold a slight edge over Notre Dame, and he is likely to make a decision before his senior year. Return visits to both schools will go a long way.
Players from Texas
Garrett Wilson was arguably the best receiver. The Austin Lake Travis product is so smooth in and out of his routes and skies to get the football, despite not being all that tall. Ohio State and Texas are locked in a battle, and you can expect the decision soon. If Texas’ offense can improve this year, look for the Longhorns.
I’m not sure anyone made more one-handed catches than Austin Bowie receiver Elijah Higgins. The 6’3 Higgins would seem like a lock to Texas, but since January, he’s maintained Stanford is a threat.
Houston St. Pius X receiver Jalen “Boobie” Curry has seen his ranking fall as other prospects matured, but he is still a priority target. He’ll visit Ohio State April 13 and Tennessee on April 20. Curry said Ole Miss, Tennessee, Ohio State, and TCU are recruiting him hard. I’m interested in seeing how top-10 programs handle his recruitment and how long he’ll wait on them.
QB Grant Gunnell, of Houston St. Pius X was one of the best QBs. The 6’6 prospect is considering a number of schools, with a visit to Cal on deck for this weekend, an official to Arizona, and likely return trips to Oklahoma State and Oregon. Gunnell is high on Ohio State and Penn State. If LSU gets its act together on offense, the Tigers could become a factor.
Alvin CB Marques Caldwell had a few nice interceptions for the Fast Houston squad.
I liked North Richland Hills WR Rashee Rice quite a bit. Rice is rated the No. 107 receiver in the nation, and I expect he’ll end up in the top 75 if the 6’2 wideout keeps it up.
Standouts from other states
Sam Howell, of Monroe (North Carolina) Sun Valley was perhaps the best QB. He committed to Florida State on Monday, and I gave the rundown to our Florida State blog, Tomahawk Nation.
David Bell, an elite receiver from Indianapolis Warren Central, could be a nice addition to Ohio State, if the Buckeyes push for him.
Sheridan Jones, an elite corner from Norfolk (Virginia) Maury, tells me he is focused on Ohio State, Clemson, and Alabama. Jones was lockdown all weekend, and has legitimate length at 6’.
Vancouver (Washington) Union athlete Lincoln Victor was a difficult cover. I didn’t get to speak with him, and his 247 profile does not list any offers, but some could be coming.