ESPN Kickoff Top Performers and Notes

ESPN Kickoff Top Performers and Notes

Peter Ariz
Peter Ariz
I was on-hand today for the ESPN Kickoff double-header of University School-Homestead and Cypress Bay-American Heritage. University won the first game 41-21, while American Heritage won 38-14. Here are some observations from today's action.

Top Performers
1. 2014 University School WR Chris Taylor (Duke)
The Duke commitment has flown under-the-radar, but if he plays like this the rest of the season, there could be some bigger programs after him. Taylor hauled in three touchdown receptions on the day. He is a very smooth route runner who will be able to catch a lot of balls in Duke’s offense.

2. 2014 American Heritage ATH Isaiah McKenzie
McKenzie would have been number one on this list if not for two of his touchdowns being called back. I have mentioned McKenzie since last season as a dynamic playmaker who has enough versatility to affect the game in all three phases. He had two punt return touchdowns called back because of penalty, but you could see his explosiveness on display in both instances. He also took a screen pass on the last play of the half for a 60-yard touchdown. McKenzie is a Notre Dame lean.

3. 2015 Homestead ATH Devonte Davis
Davis is the name on this list that people know the least about. I had mentioned him back in the summer after watching him perform with the tight ends at an Al Golden football camp, but the plays he made today were at the cornerback position. Davis showed great ball skills on the two picks and anticipated the first one perfectly. He also made a couple of catches on the offensive side of the ball. I will be interested to see how Davis performs the rest of the season. He is physical enough to play safety as well.

4. 2014 American Heritage RB Sony Michel (Georgia)
Michel showed flashes of being back to his pre-ACL injury self. He scored twice and the second touchdown showed why he is such a freak. He broke through the line of scrimmage and then made a vicious cut on a defender to burst into the open field. When comparing him to Dalvin Cook and Joseph Yearby, Michel has more of a power component to his game. Here is the referenced run:

5. 2014 American Heritage CB Juwan Dowels (Northern Illinois)
Dowels doesn’t receive the hype that his teammate Tarvarus McFadden receives, but he showed today that he will make quarterbacks pay if they test him. Dowels was solid in coverage all day long and made a nice interception in tight coverage along the sideline.

Honorable Mention
2014 Homestead LB Frank Newman
The roller coaster high school career of Frank Newman is in its final stop this year at Homestead. Newman began his career at Palmetto before playing his sophomore year at Southridge and did not play last year due to personal reasons. Newman looked great in his return today and was very active. He was used almost exclusively as a blitzer and got a number of licks in on Sean White. Newman is a JUCO candidate in all likelihood so it will be worth tracking his season.

2015 University School DL Brandon Boyce
Boyce is one of my personal favorites because he always seems to be in the backfield. At 6”, 250, Boyce plays DT and is very effective in that role. He is too quick for interior linemen at the high school level. I’m not sure what his position will be in college, but he’s an exciting player to watch.

2014 University School CB Quincy Wilson (Florida)
Wilson limited Homestead star Ermon Lane to 42 yards on 4 catches. He also had an interception return for touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal the game for the Suns.

2014 Homestead WR Keshaun Taylor
Taylor is the least hyped of the receiving trio between Ermon Lane, Gilbert Johnson (UGA), and himself, but he was QB Maurice Alexander’s favorite target today.

2015 Homestead ATH Antonio Calloway
Calloway burst onto the scene for the Broncos over the spring and showed some flashes of his ability in limited touched today. He made a nice diving catch near the sideline on a deep pass from QB Maurice Alexander and also made some tackles coming up in run support. I would like to see him touch the ball some more on offense.

2014 American Heritage DT Edgar Cerenord
Cerenord passes the eye test and had a good performance today. He seemed to be around the ball nearly every play and he helped stuff up the middle.

2015 American Heritage ATH Torrance Gibson
Gibson is as impressive of an athlete as you will find in South Florida. At 6-4, 205-pounds he’s running a 4.36. Although he made some mental mistakes from the quarterback spot today, but the flashes of his ability were there. On the first play of the game, he hit Dallas Perez deep for an 80-yard touchdown. There’s no doubt he has the arm-strength and athletic ability, but he needs to improve on the nuances of the position. He also made the decision to keep the ball on read option plays when he should have handed it off.

2014 University School LB Brandon Russell (Rutgers)
I didn’t know much about Russell before today, but came away very impressed from what I saw. His role was very reminiscent of what we saw from Skai Moore last season in that he was being moved around a lot and was always around the ball. Had a couple big hits as well. Very good athlete.

2015 American Heritage RB Travis Jackson
Jackson turned on the jets on an inside trap play for a 64-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

Other Notes
-There is a growing consensus that American Heritage 2015 CB Tarvarus McFadden will wind up at safety at the next level. Talking to some people close to the AH program as well as an opposing receiver, they believe it will be in his best interest to slide back. He has good hips, but covering smaller receivers is a concern with him.

-Despite their loss, I was encouraged from what I saw out of Homestead. They need to be a lot more disciplined than what they showed today, but they won’t be facing the likes of University School each and every week. If Maurice Alexander has enough time to throw, this can be a very good downfield passing attack.

-I expect Cypress Bay to be a contender by season’s end, but I’m not sure where they will get their offense from. Their biggest play of the day was a 55-yard run by Marquese Dudley-Gordon, who is also one of the team’s top defenders. I will be interested to see if they get Deion Hallmon some touches as the season progresses. Hallmon is almost primarily a corner, but looked good at receiver at Miami camp.

-After both teams handled business this week, a monster week one battle between Central and American Heritage is now set for next Friday. My best guess is that neither team showed much of their playbook this week.

-Miami freshman running back Walter Tucker was out there today supporting his former school American Heritage. He is weighing 226 pounds right now and playing running back/fullback.

Comments (29)

Good stuff.

Pete, any official size/weight numbers on Devonte Davis?
Liked to see Sony bounce back completely. I said it all last year but he was not moving around how he needed to which was expected. Dont know if it was mental or physical but that second td with the cut was not on display last year. They have some work to get the full potential of that offense to open up but the weapons are there for sure.

Not sure who did the schedule but Central has every game at 7 this year but the AH game is at 7:30 and UM kickoff at 8. Ugh. Was trying to sneak in the first half of that Central/AH game then jet to stadium. Starting at 7 would of been possible. 7:30, ehhh.... Decisions, decisions
BTW OL Jordan Ingraham
Homestead is talented but man they are disorganized. Cant see them making much noise in that district
Danny Thomas was one of the most impressive players I saw over the weekend.

Surprised you didn't think so.
I think Tito said it, saying he came back slow and out of shape. I didn't take it as a shot on his ability just had to get back into the groove of things
Other Notes
-There is a growing consensus that American Heritage 2015 CB Tarvarus McFadden will wind up at safety at the next level. Talking to some people close to the AH program as well as an opposing receiver, they believe it will be in his best interest to slide back. He has good hips, but covering smaller receivers is a concern with him.
McFadden was just named an early 5 star on Rivals. Pete, what is your take on this ranking (he's rated as a corner) in comparison to some of the other juniors in this class? Is he as good as say a Tyrek Cole from Miramar or Kevin Tolliver II (LSU commit) because those are the names I always hear about as the top corners. Also, what schools is he looking at early on? His head coach being Rumph can't hurt our chances but I must admit I don't know much about this kid.