We are number 1!
Several of the sites on the USA Today Florida Network published the list of the best college football recruits in your area.
Here are the players who topped those lists.
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More Coverage:Florida Preseason All-State Football Team (with a twist)
Note: Not all rosters ranked players. In those cases, the area’s highest ranked player in the USA Today Florida Network top 100 is listed below.
Robert Stafford (Eau Gallie ATH)
Stafford said making the jump from offense to defense got him a lot of attention from college.
“In the beginning, I was a catcher my freshman and sophomore years. Then I went to DB this year, and that’s when everything important started to fall apart,” Stafford said.
In his first full season playing defense, Stafford had one interception, 19 tackles and five interrupted passes.
As a wide receiver last season, Stafford had 42 catches for 605 yards and five touchdowns. — 321preps excellent dozen
plus:Change in position boosted Robert Stafford’s appeal to colleges
Sharif Denson (Bartram Trail CB)
Cornerback is a dog-eat-dog position, in the words of Bartram Trail senior Sharif Denson.
On his own team, Denson stands alone as the alpha on the edge. But this spring, Florida’s commitment was tied to one of the nation’s elite 7-on-7 high schools: South Florida Express. He teamed with Lakeland’s Cormani McClain, American Heritage’s Damari Brown, Wharton’s Dijon Johnson and Texas phenom Malik Muhammad during the tournament cycle.
“If you give up (completing) early in the tournament, you’ll be kicked out of the game,” Denson said. “I’m trying to play with the best players possible. It shows the (college) coaches that I’m not afraid to compete with these guys in the same place.” — Fabulous 10 of Daytona Beach
Plus:Sharif Denson, Bartram Trail blocking corner and Florida commitment, tops the list
Jordan Hall (West side of IL)
As a junior, Hall dominated the heart of the line despite constant double teams, recording 34 tackles (15 for loss) and five sacks. He also forced a fumble and recovered another, earning him All-First Coast recognition and the district player of the year award.
Hall is now breaking down barriers in a new way, ripping apart offensive lines for the Wolverines to earn a spot on the Times-Union’s annual Super 11 list for high school football prospects.
“Before I got there, I know for my generation, no one wanted to go to the Westside,” he said.
The school had not produced a Super 11 selection since Gators linebacker and future national champion Brandon Hicks in 2006, when the school was still known as Forrest High. It’s different now. — Florida Times-Union Super 11
Plus:Switch from offense to defense pays off for Westside defensive tackle Jordan Hall
Gavin Hill (Buchholz DL)
Gavin Hill’s production is a direct reflection of the talent of Buchholz’s defense. Last season, Hill was part of a Bobcats defense that allowed just 73 points in the regular season. Often double-teamed down opposing offensive lines, Hill had 18 tackles in 2021, eight of them behind the line of scrimmage. Hill, who is 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, has attracted the attention of several Power 5 schools, including those in Arizona, Auburn, Kentucky, Miami and Florida State. But at the end of the day, shortly after Hill received his “dream offer” from Florida, he made a commitment to the Gators soon after. — Gainesville Sunshine Super 11
Plus:Super 11: Gainesville Sun picks area’s best high school football players for 2022 season
land of lakes
Cormani McClain (Lakeland BC)
Cormani McClain’s talent was evident from the start. After his second season, then-Lake Gibson High head coach Robert Paxia nominated McClain for the county’s Defensive Player of the Year.
There was hardly any pushback from the other county coaches, and they weren’t the only ones in awe of McClain’s talent.
McClain began racking up college offers as he rose to the top of the recruiting rankings. Often described as a player who will play on Sunday, McClain enters his senior year as the No. 1-ranked player in the state and the No. 3-ranked player in the nation. He’s also No. 1 on The Ledger’s Super 16 list, Polk County’s top 16 college football recruits heading into the 2022 high school football season. “As a kid, I always wanted him (ranking number 1),” he said. “I used to want to say I’m No. 1, I’m No. 1, I’m No. 1. But now that I have it, I’m humbled. I’m really humbled.” — Lakeland Super 16 Ledger
Plus:Super 16: Lakeland’s McClain can’t hide his talent, ‘he’s a special player’
Dee Jay Holmes (Pahokee Rim)
Last season, Holmes led Pahokee’s dog-eat-dog defense to the Class 1A region finals and a 9-2 finish. It was the Blue Devils’ best finish since going 14-0 in 2008 in their last state championship.
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound flanker and tackle posted 92 tackles, 19.5 sacks, one interception and three forced fumbles as a junior, earning a three-star rating and the appearance of college coaches from all conferences.
Even with 24 offers, Holmes’ recruitment is wide open and he plans to add more with what the team hopes will be Pahokee’s seventh state title in history. — Palm Beach Post Super 11
Plus:How Pahokee star DeeJay Holmes Jr. does Anquan Boldin’s legendary jersey number justice
Damon Wilson (Venice EDGE)
He is 6-foot-5 and weighs 240 pounds. She has a wingspan of 81 inches, which makes it virtually impossible for an offensive lineman to get their hands on her. He can bench press 450 pounds, but strength alone doesn’t make Damon Wilson the best recruit in the area, with scholarship offers from 33 colleges.
“He’s the complete package,” Venice coach John Peacock said. “He’s the kind of person you want to date your daughter. And he could be the No. 1 player in the country.” — Sarasota Herald-Tribune Super 20
Plus:Venice’s Damon Wilson tops HT’s Super 20 list as the #1 Sarasota-area football recruit
Richard Young (Lehigh RB)
The hype surrounding Richard Young was known even before he played a high school football game in 2019.
The running back from Lehigh, entering his senior season, was the local Pop Warner legend. He was physically mature beyond his years at the time and still is to this day, choosing not to be complacent. Despite making numerous visits this past summer, Young always found time to get into the weight room, work on agility training and more.
He’s even hungrier this season after posting video game numbers in 2021 when he won the Southwest Florida Football Offensive Player of the Year award. Young is looking to top his 1,755 yards and 20 touchdowns from a season ago, which would put him over 5,000 career yards in high school.
Young is the first player to top The News-Press/Naples Daily News Big 15 list for three consecutive seasons. — The Big 15 of Southwest Florida
Plus:The Big 15: See who from Dunbar, Naples, First Baptist, Lehigh ranked No. 5 to 1 for 2022
Wilky Denaud (John Carroll Catholic EDGE)
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Denaud had offers from Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Indiana, Miami, Penn State, South Carolina and Tennessee, among others. Denaud narrowed down his options between Auburn, Florida State, Indiana and Tennessee before selecting the Tigers and head coach Bryan Harsin.
With the size and athleticism suited to play in the SEC, Denaud had a breakout junior season with 55 total tackles, 15 sacks and 14½ tackles for loss to become one of the most coveted defensive line prospects in the state. — TCP Palm Super 11
Plus:Auburn commits Wilky Denaud ready for monster final season with John Carroll Catholic