Florida is the most talented state in the nation. The recruiting battles in the Sunshine State are fierce, because who wins and loses them often helps decide conference and national titles. In the last 35 seasons, 11 of college football’s national titles have been won by schools in Florida. Eight more have come via schools in the two states bordering Florida.
I live in Florida and have covered the state for over a decade. In this space, I’ll chronicle who did the best, notice some trends, and provide some analysis.
Here’s the list of the 42 four- and five-stars in Florida who are actually from Florida.
The Florida Blue Chips
|Evan Neal||IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)||OL||5||Alabama|
|Trey Sanders||IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)||RB||5||Alabama|
|Braylen Ingraham||St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, FL)||DL||4||Alabama|
|Jordan Battle||St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, FL)||DB||4||Alabama|
|DJ Williams||Sebring (Sebring, FL)||RB||4||Auburn|
|Mark-Antony Richards||Wellington (West Palm Beach, FL)||WR||4||Auburn|
|Frank Ladson||South Dade (Miami, FL)||WR||4||Clemson|
|Chez Mellusi||Naples (Naples, FL)||RB||4||Clemson|
|Tyler Davis||Wekiva (Apopka, FL)||DL||4||Clemson|
|William Putnam||Plant (Tampa, FL)||OL||4||Clemson|
|Khris Bogle||Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale, FL)||DL||4||Florida|
|Deyavie Hammond||Lakeland (Lakeland, FL)||OL||4||Florida|
|Keon Zipperer||Lakeland (Lakeland, FL)||TE||4||Florida|
|Lloyd Summerall||Lakeland (Lakeland, FL)||DL||4||Florida|
|Michael Tarquin||Belleview (Belleview, FL)||OL||4||Florida|
|Nay'Quan Wright||Miami Carol City (Opa Locka, FL)||RB||4||Florida|
|Wardrick Wilson||Doral Academy Charter (Miami, FL)||OL||4||Florida|
|Kaiir Elam||The Benjamin School (North Palm Beach, FL)||DB||4||Florida|
|Akeem Dent||Palm Beach Central (West Palm Beach, FL)||DB||4||FSU|
|Brendan Gant||Kathleen (Lakeland, FL)||DB||4||FSU|
|Dontae Lucas||IMG Academy (Miami, FL)||OL||4||FSU|
|Jaleel McRae||IMG Academy (New Smyrna Beach, FL)||LB||4||FSU|
|Quashon Fuller||Lehigh Senior (Lehigh Acres, FL)||DL||4||FSU|
|Raymond Woodie III||Florida State Univ. School (Tallahassee, FL)||DB||4||FSU|
|Travis Jay||Madison County (Madison, FL)||DB||4||FSU|
|Kenny McIntosh||University School (Fort Lauderdale, FL)||RB||4||Georgia|
|Rian Davis||Wekiva (Apopka, FL)||LB||4||Georgia|
|Tyrique Stevenson||Miami Southridge (Homestead, FL)||DB||4||Georgia|
|Avery Huff||St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, FL)||LB||4||Miami|
|Jahfari Harvey||Vero Beach (Fla.)||DE||4||Miami|
|Jeremiah Payton||Duncan U. Fletcher (Neptune Beach, FL)||WR||4||Miami|
|Keontra Smith||Chaminade-Madonna Prep (Hollywood, FL)||DB||4||Miami|
|Te'Cory Couch||Chaminade-Madonna Prep (Hollywood, FL)||DB||4||Miami|
|Anthony Solomon||St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, FL)||LB||4||Michigan|
|Marcus Crowley||Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, FL)||RB||4||Ohio State|
|Jaden Davis||St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, FL)||DB||4||Oklahoma|
|Ge'mon Eaford||Deerfield Beach (Deerfield Beach, FL)||LB||4||Oregon|
|John Dunmore||Chaminade-Madonna Prep (Hollywood, FL)||WR||4||Penn State|
|Jaquaze Sorrells||Largo (Largo, FL)||DL||4||South Carolina|
|Mikel Jones||IMG Academy (Hialeah, FL)||LB||4||Syracuse|
|Derick Hunter||Dunbar (Fort Myers, FL)||DL||4||Texas A&M|
|Keyshawn King||Oakleaf (Orange Park, FL)||RB||4||Virginia Tech|
Why out-of-state IMG/Xfer recruits are excluded
For the purposes of determining which schools are recruiting the state the best, I am excluding players from IMG Academy who are not from Florida. A move to IMG Academy is different than other moves. Because it is a boarding school, kids are coming to the school for the purpose of football, not because their family just moved to town. There is nothing tying them to the state. We know that a large majority of players who transfer to IMG from out-of-state return to their home region. By excluding these players, who make up about five of the state’s top-50 in a given year, a clearer picture of the schools recruiting true Florida kids, both in culture and roots, can be attained.
For 2018, these players are DE Nolan Smith (Georgia commit from Atlanta), RB Noah Cain (Penn State, Denton, TX), and WR Shamar Nash (Arkansas commit from Memphis).
Related: Florida linebacker commit Diwun Black moved from Mississippi to Kissimmeee (Fla.) Osceola. He’ll be focused on his grades and not playing football, according to multiple reports. He was committed to UF before moving.
Florida (eight of the 42) bests FSU (seven), and Miami (five), among the Florida Schools.
The Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles are out in front with a combined 15 of the state’s top 42 players from Florida as ranked by the 247Sports Composite.
Florida’s class is headlined by elite cornerback Kaiir Elam, defensive end Khris Bogle, and the Lakeland High School trio of DE Lloyd Summerall, TE Keon Zipperer, and OL Deyavie Hammond. The Gators trailed for much of the cycle, but beat Miami on the trio, beat Georgia for Elam, and flipped Bogle from Alabama following the departure of coach Tosh Lupoi to the Browns. It’s a good haul for Dan Mullen’s first full class.
FSU’s class is led by four-stars in DB Akeem Dent, DB Brendan Gant, DB Travis Jay, and guard Dontae Lucas. FSU was second for much of the process, and while it held on to its elite in-state players following a poor 2018 season, it also failed to add to the list.
The Miami Hurricanes were on top for a while, but suffered a huge rash of decommitments. Miami’s class is headlined by four-star receiver Jeremiah Payton and four-star linebacker Avery Huff. Huff is an athletic freak and just scratching the surface of his potential.
Alabama (four) and Clemson (four) are the top out-of-state recruiters.
Clemson has four-star receiver Frank Ladson, four-star offensive lineman Will Putnam, four-star running back Chez Melussi, and four-star defensive tackle Tyler Davis. Ladson is an elite deep threat.
Alabama had a huge year in Florida, bringing in five-star running back Trey Sanders and five-star offensive tackle Evan Neal. Alabama also landed four-star edge rusher Braylen Ingraham and flipped four-star safety Jordan Battle from Ohio State. Alabama is the only school to sign a five star recruit out of Florida who is actually from Florida.
It shouldn’t be surprising that these programs are doing so well with Florida recruits. Clemson has done well in the Sunshine State for a decade plus. Dabo Swinney is still well known for securing the commitment of C.J. Spiller in the 2006 class.
Alabama basically gets whomever it wants on a national level, more often than not.
But still, the in-state schools did not hold serve.
There were 42 in-state four- and five-stars from Florida. Only 20 stayed in the state. That is not a good sign for the in-state schools.
It is, however, somewhat understandable. Florida needed time to build relationships with targets and should be set up to have an even stronger 2020 class. FSU had a losing record for the first time in almost four decades and if it can make it back to a bowl in 2019, should be better on the trail. And Miami had its coach retire after a tumultuous season. Manny Diaz should be better in his first full class.
In order for a Sunshine State team to take home its 12th national title in the last 40 years, it will need to do better keeping prospects in the state.
Rankings via the 247Sports Composite.