Home Sports Recruiting: Drafting 2 dream teams from Florida’s top 2023 football prospects

Recruiting: Drafting 2 dream teams from Florida’s top 2023 football prospects

Recruiting: Drafting 2 dream teams from Florida’s top 2023 football prospects

It’s just a few days until Nspantionspanl Signing Dspany, which means college football fans actively are dreaming about how their commits fits at their favorite program and which uncommitted players could don their team’s hat on Wednesday.

With that in mind, State of Recruiting H.Q. hosts Jon Santucci and Chris Boyle wondered what a 22-player team (sorry kickers and punters) would look like if they could draft any senior football player in the state.

Here’s how that draft played out.

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(Berkeley Prep EDGE, Alabama)

Berkeley Prep edge rusher Keon Keeley attends the Ohio State, Wisconsin game.

Boyle: I prefer to build a balanced roster for the modern game, so I’ll use most of my early picks on guys who can either pass the ball, catch passes, protect the passer, rush the passer or defend the pass. Let’s start with consensus top-10 national recruit Keeley, who had 17.5 sacks as a senior for Berkeley Prep. General rule of thumb: If he’s good enough for Nick Saban, he’s good enough for me.


(Miami Central EDGE, Miami commit)

Rueben Bain (11) of Miami Central waits on the sideline  before the Class 5A state championship game against Merritt Island at DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL  Dec. 17, 2021.

Boyle: It was either one of those two guys for me.

Santucci: It was a coin flip on two guys. Bain is the first name that came out of my mouth. He’s a super-productive winner who would be the No. 1 player in the nation if he was a few inches taller.


(Lakeland CB, Miami commit)

Cormani McClain (7) of Lakeland breaks up a pass intended for Kenyon Sears (1) of Venice in first half of the Class 4S state championship game at DRV PNK Stadium, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale.

Boyle: Yeah, he’s the top corner in the country. This is a no-brainer. Next!

Santucci: Well, great. You just shut down half the field.


(Osceola DL, UCF commit)

John Walker (55) of Osceola pursue Rockledge QB Traven Green during their game Friday, September 23, 2022. Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK

Boyle: No! Stop that right now.

Santucci: I almost took him at No. 1. I am very focused on building that D-Line and making it impossible for you to move that ball.


(Venice EDGE, Uncommitted)

Riverview wide receiver Charles Lester III (1) tries to escape the grip of Venice defensive linebacker Damon Wilson (11) during their school's matchup up on neutral ground at Sarasota HIgh School. MATT HOUSTON/HERALD-TRIBUNE

Santucci: Insert poop emoji here!

Boyle: I was not expecting a defensive tackle this early, but Walker’s the best guy in the state at that spot for me. Anyway, let’s partner Keeley with Venice’s ferocious edge rusher Wilson, who starred in Saturday’s Class 4S final against Lakeland.


(Westside DL, Uncommitted)

Westside's Jordan Hall (44) on the sidelines during first half action. Ed White traveled to Westside High School for Thursday night football, October 27, 2022.

Santucci: I do not care if this is the right way to build a team or not. You cannot run the ball between the tackles and all three of my guys so far will destroy your quarterback. Game over. Give it up now.


(American Heritage WR, Ohio State commit)

American Heritage senior wide receiver Brandon Inniss

Boyle: OK, it’s time to start snagging offensive players. Let the debate rage on — build through the trenches, or with weapons? I’ll nab Inniss, who caught 79 balls for 1,336 yards and 15 TDs for the Class 2M runner-up Patriots.


(IMG OT, Miami commit)

Francis Mauigoa, from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, is ranked the No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2023 recruiting class by 247Sports Composite.

Santucci: I never considered myself a huge admirer of linemen, but I guess I am. Mauigoa is mammoth and elite. I already feel great about my O-Line.

Boyle: Dave Gettleman would be proud of your affinity for hog mollies.


(Clearwater Academy International OT, FSU commit)

Lucas Simmons, an offensive tackle from Clearwater (Florida) Academy International, is a four-star prospect.

Santucci: Dang it! That really threw me off. I was hoping I could steal both of the big tackles.

Boyle: Nope. If I was going receiver first, you can be sure I’m taking tackle right afterward. Simmons, the 6-foot-8, 300-pound Swede, will protect the blind side for my squad.


(Orange Park OL, Florida commit)

Four-star 2023 offensive lineman Roderick Kearney.

Santucci: That Simmons pick really threw me. I’m grabbing Kearney, a dominant run blocker who will pave the road with Mauigoa.


(Wharton DB, Florida commit)

Santucci: I really like versatile defensive backs. That’s a great pick. He can play cornerback or safety.

Boyle: Johnson’s tape popped for me about as much anyone I watched entering the 2022 season. He intercepted three passes and batted away a further 10 as a junior, and was hardly challenged in his six appearances this fall.

Santucci: I don’t want to agree with you too much — ever — but I have to wholeheartedly agree. Johnson’s junior film was unforgettable.


(Edgewater RB, Texas commit)

Edgewater's Cedric Baxter rushed for 1,651 yards and 22 touchdowns during his junior year.

Santucci: I’m going to go away from the lines, for a pick at least, and take the most complete running back in the state.

Boyle: Baxter’s my RB1 as well, but knowing we’re likely only going to take one apiece, I’ll wait a little while longer.


(Lakeland WR, Georgia commit)

Lakeland (10) Tyler Williams runs through the Osceola defense during first half action in Lakeland Fl  Friday December 2,2022.
Ernst Peters/The Ledger

Boyle: There just aren’t very many teenagers measuring 6-5, 195, that can stretch the field vertically. Williams is one of them, and though the stats (31 receptions, 412 yards, six TDs) weren’t outstanding, he still flashed enough to entice reigning national champion Georgia.


(American Heritage CB, Uncommitted)

Santucci: I know there are other guys who are higher rated, but throw in the film from the Heritage-Chaminade game and tell me he’s not a stud.

Boyle: *throws in the film* … Nope. It checks out.


(Osceola DL, Oklahoma commit)

Derrick Leblanc (10) of Osceola pursues Rockledge QB Traven Green during their game Friday, September 23, 2022. Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK

Boyle: Well, you nabbed Walker earlier, so I’ll take his equally terrifying teammate. LeBlanc can wreck shop as either an end in a three-man front, or a defensive tackle on a four-man line.


(IMG CB, Uncommitted)

Five-star cornerback Desmond Ricks from the Class of 2023

Santucci: I was hoping you would forget he reclassified. Not sure that was the case, but I feel a little better about trying to slow down Inniss and Williams.

Boyle: Guilty as charged. Gut punch.


(St. Thomas Aquinas S, Penn State commit)

King Mack (9) of St. Thomas walks along the sideline during the during first half of the Class 7A state championship game against Tampa Bay Tech at DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL  Dec. 17, 2021.

Santucci: I have been a huge King Mack fan since his sophomore year and was hoping he would get past you.

Boyle: Not after what he did this past weekend to clinch yet another Aquinas title — five tackles, two pass breakups and a 58-yard punt return touchdown.


(Lincoln LB, Georgia commit)

Lincoln senior Raylen Wilson (3) returns a punt in a game against Florida High on Nov. 3, 2022, at Gene Cox Stadium. The Seminoles won, 10-9.

Santucci: It might be early to take a linebacker, but Wilson can do everything for a defense. And he’s going to have plenty of space and freedom to wreak havoc playing behind that defensive line.


(Bartram Trail CB, Florida commit)

Bartram Trail cornerback Sharif Denson (7) defends Buchholz receiver Jaren Hamilton (22)  during a high school football game on October 21, 2022. [Clayton Freeman/Florida Times-Union]

Boyle: Give me the entire South Florida Express secondary. Denson, like his counterparts, is an alpha. He wants your best guy and plans to erase him. He can play slot, boundary, possibly even some safety.


(IMG WR, Ohio State commit)

Ascender receiver Carnell Tate hauls in a touchdown pass Friday night at IMG's home game.
The defending national champion IMG Academy Ascenders played host the Miami Northwestern Bulls football team 9/10/21.


Santucci: I really like Tate and I feel good about starting my skill group with him and Baxter. Tate gets open downfield, and I’ve seen him make some very difficult catches.


(Andrew Jackson LB, South Carolina commit)

Andrew Jackson's Grayson Howard (0) celebrates a stop with Tyler Fann (12) during the first quarter of a regular season football game Friday, Sept. 18, 2022 at Andrew Jackson High School football stadium in Jacksonville. The Andrew Jackson Tigers defeated the Spruce Creek Hawks 35-6.

Santucci: Oh man! I really wanted Howard. That’s a great pick.

Boyle: Tackling machine, 188 of them to be exact this season for a greatly improved Andrew Jackson squad.


(Gaither WR, Florida commit)

GaitherÕs Eugene Wilson flies in from the side and blocks the Lightning extra point. Action as Lehigh beat Gaither in their first round playoff game 27-0.

Santucci: I don’t know if it’s too early to take a slot but Wilson is such a tough cover and he’s so explosive. He can help in the return game, too. This is a really good slot class all the way down the list with Wilson, Nathaniel Joseph, Robby Washington, Creed Whittemore, Asaad Waseem, etc.

Boyle: It’s not too early. He was the next name on my list.


(Dunbar DB, Uncommitted)

Shawn Russ of Dunbar gets a pick six against Daytona Beach's Mainland High School in the state football semifinal game on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, in Fort Myers.

Santucci: I actually thought you were going to make this pick at some point because you saw him in the Final Four and that may have been his signature game.

Boyle: He was so good that night, too. Russ manned up at corner with Mainland’s talented junior James Randle, and snagged two interceptions when dropping back to safety. Came away highly impressed.


(Jesuit LB, Georgia commit)

Palmetto High quarterback Zander Smith, #15, is brought down by Jesuit High defender Troy Bowles, #23. Palmetto High School hosted Jesuit High School (Tampa) in a spring football game Wednesday, May 18, 2022.

Santucci: You took Grayson Howard, so I felt compelled to take my second linebacker. Bowles is outstanding in coverage. He’ll help slow down your passing game.


(South Walton TE, Georgia commit)

South Walton WR Pearce Spurlin picks up yards after a reception as the Seahawks hosted the Walton Braves in a county rivalry football game.

Boyle: The measurables are off the charts… 6-6, 220 with an 81-inch wingspan. Those numbers equate to catch radius, and he’s going to be a weapon at Georgia. Last September, in a game against Baker, Spurlin had 13 receptions for 318 yards and five touchdowns.


(Munroe S, Oklahoma commit)

Munroe senior corner back Makari Vickers (8) returns a punt in a game against NEFI on Aug. 18, 2022, at Corry Field. The Bobcats won, 40-0.

Santucci: Vickers is a do-it-all safety. I like him as the last line of my defense.


(Carrollwood Day OL, Auburn commit)

Clay Wedin is a Class of 2023 offensive lineman who plays at Carrollwood Day in Tampa, Florida

Boyle: Most recruiting services forecast Wedin to play on the interior, but he’s got tape at both tackle spots. He plays with a mean streak, delivering punishing blows with his heavy hands.


(St. Thomas Aquinas S, Penn State commit)

Conrad Hussey (29) of St. Thomas closes in for a tackle as John Ponder (4) of Tampa Bay Tech looks for running room  during second quarter of the Class 7A state championship game at DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL  Dec. 17, 2021.

Santucci: I had to get one of the Aquinas safeties. Hussey’s got elite speed and he’s a playmaker.


(Lehigh RB, Alabama commit)

Lehigh running back Richard Young (,#9) leaps untouched into the end zone to give his team the lead, 9-3 over Palmetto in the second quarter. The Palmetto Tigers hosted the Lehigh Lightning in the FHSAA class 4S playoffs Friday night, Nov. 11, 2022.

Santucci: I just want to hear from people in Southwest Florida when they realize that Richard Young was the player you picked from that area.

Boyle: Known advocate for the 239. Many people are saying this. Young had college coaches flying helicopters to visit him this spring. He totaled 4,693 yards and 42 touchdowns on the ground at Lehigh.


(Venice DB, Penn State commit)

Venice's corner back (0) Elliot Washington returns a intercepted pass, setting Venice up for a touchdown in the first quarter of play during Lakeland's first drive of the game. The Lakeland Dreadnaughts went on to win the Class 4 Suburban State Championship 21-14 over Venice at DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022.

Santucci: I’m going with a 4-2-5 defense, so Washington’s versatility will be big. He can hit, he’s a ball hawk and he can return kicks.


(Tampa Catholic LB, Oklahoma commit)

Boyle: This kid is a complete football player. Not only did he register 108 tackles, four sacks and two picks, Carter was Tampa Catholic’s leading rusher! He averaged 11.1 yards per carry with 14 TDs!

Santucci: That’s a great pick. Carter was one of the most impressive guys I saw during the spring.


Jayden Wayne (IMG EDGE, Miami)

Santucci: I needed one more edge rusher and Wayne is an easy fit. I feel really good about the two future Hurricanes on the outside.


(Miami Edison WR, Miami commit)

Miami Edison wide receiver Nathaniel Joseph

Boyle: I love how we’re 18 rounds deep and still no quarterback. Who’s gonna blink?

Anyway, Joseph is a nightmare for slot defenders and has enormous potential in the return game for good measure.

Santucci: Me. And you’re gonna be stunned.


(Miami Central QB, Auburn commit)

Keyone Jenkins (12) of Miami Central scores a touchdown against Merritt Island during the Class 5A state championship game at DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL  Dec. 17, 2021.

Boyle: Wow. Interesting.

Santucci: He’s a winner, pure and simple. He’s played in a lot of big games, so he’s not going to blink under the bright lights.

Boyle: I’m torn between Emory Williams and Anthony Colandrea, but I’ll come back to that in a minute.


(Trinity Catholic OL, Miami commit)

Tommy Kinsler works during preseason drills at Trinity Catholic in Ocala.

Santucci: I really like Kinsler. Big body, moves well. He’ll be a good guard at the next level.

Boyle: Really good pedigree for linemen at Trinity Catholic, too. He was at the center of a recruiting tug-of-war between the Gators and the Hurricanes.


(IMG OL, Miami commit)

Santucci: I like Tripp as a guard. I was going back and forth between him and Kinsler, so you made this pick for me.


(Dr. Phillips OT, Texas commit)

Dr. Phillips offensive tackle Payton Kirkland is one of the premier linemen in the nation. The 6-foot-7, 335-pounder has more than 50 college offers.

Boyle: First off, he’s got an elite handshake — one befitting a 6-foot-6, 345-pound behemoth. Opinions are somewhat mixed on his next-level position, but Kirkland adds more power and punch to my offensive line.


(IMG OL, Florida commit)

Santucci: Harris is one of the best true centers in the nation. Still feeling good about the trenches. And I’m gonna shock you with my other tackle.


(Milton QB, Miami commit)

Milton quarterback Emory Williams (No. 9) looks for an open receiver as he runs out of the pocket during Friday night's game against the Raiders.

Boyle: I spent time watching senior film before choosing my QB. Colandrea, Cardinal Gibbons’ Dylan Rizk, Cocoa’s Blake Boda, Nease’s Marcus Stokes and Miami Northwestern’s Taron Dickens were also among those under consideration, but I like Williams’ arm talent, physical tools and improved command of his offense.


(Stranahan WR, FSU commit)

Santucci: Williams’ raw skills are too much to ignore. A lot of people I’ve talked to think he’s really going to make major strides at the next level.


(Olympia DL, Florida commit)

Boyle: While my defensive line lacks an outright run-stuffer, it’s going to attack in waves. James will add weight to his 6-foot-6, 265-pound frame and should learn to become a real nuisance for opposing blockers.


(First Baptist TE, Clemson commit)

Olsen Patt Henry, First Baptist, is No. 2 recruit in the Naples Daily News and News-Press' Big 15 for 2022. 

Cars provided by and photos taken at Naples Luxury Imports.

Santucci: I’m going to go away from the IMG well and take Henry. I can see him playing as a flex tight end. He’ll be a walking mismatch in the slot and a first down machine at the next level.


(Chaminade-Madonna C, Indiana commit)

Santucci: You ready for the surprise?

Boyle: Can’t wait. Quality centers are in short supply, so I’m happy to take 6-foot-5, 305-pound Indiana commit Larkins from undisputed 1M champion Chaminade-Madonna.


(Evans OT, West Virginia commit)

Santucci: This is high risk, but I think it will be high reward. Saint-Jean is big, played really well as a senior and is just scratching the surface of what he can do.

Santucci: Ok, so those are our teams. One last thing. We were pretty position locked and limited. Who are five guys that didn’t get drafted that you really would have liked on your team, for whatever reason?

Boyle: Well, I went with edge rushers early, so I didn’t get to take IMG Academy’s Samuel M’Pemba but he would certainly make the list. Then, I’ll mention a pair of wide receivers in Wiregrass Ranch’s Bryson Rodgers and Gulliver Prep’s Jalen Brown. Rounding out the list, I’ll shoutout Fleming Island running back Samuel Singleton and Lake Brantley linebacker Andrew Harris, who had three picks and 72 tackles as a senior.

Santucci: In no order, and without any explanation, I’m going with Chaminade-Madonna ATH Edwin Joseph, American Heritage RB Mark Fletcher Jr., Boone WR Aidan Mizell, Columbia LB Jaden Robinson and Vero Beach WR Vandrevius Jacobs. There are others, but I did limit it to five.

Team Boyle

QB: Emory Williams

RB: Richard Young

WR: Brandon Inniss

WR: Tyler Williams

WR: Nathaniel Joseph

TE: Pearce Spurlin

OL: Lucas Simmons

OL: Clay Wedin

OL: William Larkins

OL: Tommy Kinsler

OL: Payton Kirkland

EDGE: Keon Keeley

EDGE: Damon Wilson

DL: Derrick LeBlanc

DL: Kamran James

LB: Grayson Howard

LB: Lewis Carter

CB: Cormani McClain

CB: Sharif Denson

CB: Dijon Johnson

S: King Mack

S: Shawn Russ

Team Santucci

QB: Keyone Jenkins

RB: Cedric Baxter

WR: Carnell Tate

WR: Hykeem Williams

WR: Eugene Wilson III

TE: Olsen Patt Henry

OL: Francis Mauigoa

OL: Roderick Kearney

OL: Knijeah Harris

OL: Antonio Tripp

OL: Chrisdasson Saint-Jean

EDGE: Rueben Bain

EDGE: Jayden Wayne

DL: John Walker

DL: Jordan Hall

LB: Raylen Wilson

LB: Troy Bowles

CB: Desmond Ricks

CB: Damari Brown

CB: Elliot Washington

S: Makari Vickers

S: Conrad Hussey


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