Football recruiting: Jaylen Heyward, Zavier Mincey among spring breakout players
Spring football games have wrapped up, bringing a close to a month of college football coaches crisscrossing the state to see as many high school players as possible.
Many players made a major impression and earned scholarships, while others earned key invitations to summer camps.
Here's a look at some of the players around the state who helped themselves most this spring.
David Laws, Rickards (RB)
Rickards has gained a lot of recruiting attention this offseason, making its spring jamboree a fight to see who was going to steal the show. In its two halves against Leon and Godby, it was junior running David Laws that controlled the Raiders' offense and scoring. He scored two touchdowns against rival Godby, after the Raiders went down 16-0, to eventually end the half in a tie. His spring performance bodes well not just for Rickards' offense, but his recruiting growth as he has not caught too much attention from recruitment. He will for sure be a threat to look out for come fall. — Jack Williams, Tallahassee Democrat
Kevin Everhart, Lakewood Ranch High
The lone back in the Mustangs’ Air Raid offense, Everhart is going to be used in a variety of roles, as seen in the spring game against Seminole Osceola. A rising senior, Everhart rushed 17 times for 61 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 77 yards and another score. Everhart, who also plays defensive back, broke up a couple of passes. After starting his high school career at Parrish Community, the solid 5-foot-10, 200-pound Everhart will begin his second season with the Mustangs in the fall. Last year, he gained 931 yards on the ground and caught 32 passes for 319 with a combined 14 touchdowns.
Zavier Mincey (Mainland DB)
OK, maybe it's cheating a little bit to choose Mincey considering Notre Dame jumped the gun and offered him on St. Patrick's Day. But there's no doubt his recruitment blew up this month. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound defensive back, who did not allow a single TD pass in coverage as a sophomore, scooped up offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Marshall, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCF and Western Kentucky since the last week of April. Though he profiles as a safety, he's trusted to man the boundary and win one-on-one battles at corner, too. — Chris Boyle, Daytona Beach News-Journal
Chris Johnson (Dillard RB)
Johnson began the spring as a Rutgers commit and was pegged to be the lead horse among a strong stable of running backs at Dillard. The rising senior ended it as the state champion in both the 100 and 200 meters (10.45 seconds in the 100; 20.78 200M) with offers from premier programs such as Miami, Penn State, Florida, Texas A&M, Michigan, Georgia, Oregon, and Oklahoma. On top of his track success, Johnson wowed coaches with his vertical potential as an outside receiver. In the spring game, he took teammate — and 2024 Geirgia cornerback commit — Antione Jackson 60-plus yards for a touchdown. — Frank Tucker, The Crib South Florida
Tawaski Abrams, Dunbar (WR)
The speedy Abrams broke out in his sophomore season, catching 25 passes for 414 yards and six touchdowns as the Tigers No.2 receiver. At 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, Abrams' size and shiftiness make him an attractive prospect. Since the start of 2022, he has picked up offers from Iowa State, Texas A&M, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State, Penn State, South Carolina, Pitt and Maryland, among others. He also honed his craft with a successful track and field season in the spring, winning a district title in the 100-meter dash and a regional title as part of Dunbar's 4x100-meter relay. In the 100 meters, he set a personal record of 10.62 seconds, a top 10 time in the state this year. — Dustin Levy, The Fort Myers News-Press
Kyree Edwards, Gainesville ATH
Gainesville losing its starting quarterback could be a blessing in disguise for Gainesville athlete Kyree Edwards, who spent much of his time as the Hurricanes RB1 last season. Now, as his team needs help under center, Edwards is getting a touch on every play ran on offense. In Edwards' junior season, he rushed for more than 800 yards. But if the Hurricanes' spring game was any indication, that number is bound to grow exponentially. In a perfect world, I'm sure Gainesville would love to find its next QB1 before the fall, but in the case that the 'Canes don't, expect Edwards, who has flown under the radar, to have a breakout season. — Ainslie Lee, The Gainesville Sun
Desirrio Riles, University Christian ATH
Back in 2019, in his first high school game as a freshman quarterback, Riles made his presence known at once by leading University Christian to its first-ever series victory in a televised game over eventual state finalist Bolles. With nearly 4,000 yards of total offense, three playoff trips and an appearance in the 2020 Class 2A final, he's shown he can perform under pressure, and now, preparing to focus on a defensive role in 2022, he's drawing a fresh surge of interest. More than a half-dozen colleges have offered Riles in the past month, including Michigan and Boston College. Now listed at 6-3, 225 pounds, Riles has the physical tools to excel at linebacker, and he could emerge as one of the top Class of 2023 prospects in Jacksonville's Class 1A Metro division. --Clayton Freeman, Florida Times-Union
Daidren Zipper (Lakeland, WR)
Zipperer already was not the recruiting radar, although overshadowed somewhat by teammate Tyler Williams, but he has taken a big step forward this spring. At 6-1, 170 pounds, he has good size. He caught 17 passes last season for 277 yards last season and should make an even bigger impact this season with the addition of quarterback Zach Pleuss, who threw for more than 200 yards in the spring game against Venice. Lakeland coach Bill Castle said Zipperer had one of the best springs among his Dreadnaughts. He has picked up more than 18 offers the past two months, including schools like UCF, USF, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, FAMU, Arkansas State and Florida Atlantic. — Roy Fuoco, The Ledger
Ethon Cole (Lake Minneola DB)
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound safety is long, fast (he was a member of Lake Minneola's 4x100 relay team that finished eighth in Class 3A) and versatile enough to play in the box or as a center fielder. Colleges certainly took notice with Minnesota, Indiana, Purdue, Duke and USF among the schools to offer during the spring. An injury limited him to just a half in the spring game, but he showed enough against Orange Park to show he's a legitimate Power 5 player. Cole defended four passes and recovered a fumble last fall. — Jon Santucci, USA Today Florida Network
Jacory Barney (Miami Palmetto ATH)
Barney is the next great athlete in a lineage of recent Palmetto star prospects. A former AAU Junior Olympics 4x400 meter gold medalist, Barney gave South Florida a glimpse of his speed as a sophomore do-it-all contributor, making plays at quarterback, wide receiver and cornerback. In a spring showcase with a litany of Power 5 talent, he shinned as the main target of the Palmetto passing attack by scoring three times. Barney's 6-foot-1, 160-pound frame, elite athletic skillset and productive spring stole the attention of college scouts. He has earned offers from Michigan, Tennessee, Utah and Nebraska since the end of April. — Frank Tucker, The Crib South Florida
Olsen Patt Henry (First Baptist WR)
Not many times does a prospect enter the spring with few offers and leave the spring as a 4-star prospect, but that was the case for the First Baptist wideout. Henry and his 6-foot-4 frame picked up a boatload of offers, including Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma, and Ohio State. The Lions didn’t partake in a spring game either, making Henry’s jolt in recruiting all the more interesting, but for good reason. He became the first Collier County receiver in at least 16 years to surpass 1,000 yards. He finished with 61 catches for 1,053 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2021, with a good chance of eclipsing those numbers this season. — Alex Martin, Naples Daily News
Zack Drawdy, Yulee WR
Drawdy comes from the Hornets program that 10 years ago entered the national stage as the home of a football giant: Derrick Henry, national all-time ground yardage champion, Heisman Trophy winner and NFL rushing king. Recruiters are now keeping an eye on Drawdy, and with good reason. He caught 49 passes for 647 yards and six touchdowns last year and gained 580 receiving yards as a sophomore, all while lining up on an offense where he was without question the primary weapon for opponents to track. At 6-3, he has prototypical height and the athleticism to go up high for the football. He's picked up more than a half-dozen offers this spring, including his first power conference offer from Kentucky. --Clayton Freeman, Florida Times-Union
Cole Tabb, (Choctawhatchee RB)
Call it a statement. On the second play from scrimmage against perennial power Niceville in last month’s spring game, the sophomore running back broke two tackles in the backfield and took a 75-yard run up the left sideline to the house. Speed, power, balance … the highlight-reel run was just a continuation of an underclassman campaign where he posted 1,731 all-purpose yards and 22 touchdowns for the Big Green, which went from 0-8 to 6-4 behind Tabb. A few days after the 14-14 first-half tie with Niceville, Tabb shored up his first Power 5 offer from the University of Utah. It’s not a matter of if but when SEC and ACC programs will follow.
DeJon McBride (Vanguard DL)
McBride has the size (6-foot-3, 330 pounds) and agility colleges covet on the interior. He's strong enough to occupy blockers and quick enough to get into the backfield and make plays. He had 5.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, eight quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles in 2021. Marshall, Liberty, USF and Coastal Carolina offered before the spring. Louisville, Appalachian State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern and Troy were among the schools to offer once practice started. — Jon Santucci, USA Today Florida Network
Dylan Wade (Jones TE)
Wade saved the best for last with a monster performance in the final game of the spring. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound rising senior had two long catches and showed good speed for a big body. He also rushed for a touchdown out of the wildcat formation and threw a long touchdown pass against a Rockledge defense filled with college talent. Wade already had offers from Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, Nebraska, Purdue, Ole Miss, Rutgers and others but it wouldn't be a surprise to see more Power 5 programs try to jump in this summer. — Jon Santucci, USA Today Florida Network
Isaac Paul (Mosley CB)
The speedy cornerback had just one Division-I offer going into the summer of 2021 thanks to an offer from Arkansas State. After a stellar junior season in which he notched 43 tackles, picked off two passes, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, and blocked two kicks, and another offseason of growth, the 6-foot, 170-point cornerback now sports offers from the likes of Appalachian State, Connecticut, Georgia Southern, and service academies Air Force and Army. A shutdown corner in 2021, Paul will expand his role for Mosley as a senior and serve as more of a hybrid cornerback/safety in 2022. — Dustin Kent, Panama City News Herald
Jacob Cosby-Mosley (Benjamin ATH)
In Benjamin’s spring game, the Bucs accomplished a feat that couldn’t be executed by an overwhelmingly-young defense whose inexperience cost an 18-point lead in the third quarter of Class 3A region finals last fall: a shutout. The 40-0 final over Clewiston featured flashy plays from Benjamin’s known offensive staples, but all eyes were on Class of 2024 safety Jacob Cosby-Mosley, who recovered two drops for touchdowns in the first half.
The 6-foot, 176 pound playmaker may look a smidge undersized on paper. His dynamic play in the backfield, though? Big time. Not only is Cosby-Mosley strong, a key to a line losing at least three dominant tacklers, he’s also one of Benjamin’s fastest. Cosby-Mosley posted top five times in all four of his track events this spring and recently received more space in the running back room to stuff the stat sheet with the transfer of Dylan Furshman to Jupiter.
In 2021, Mosley posted 43 tackles, two sacks, a team-leading three interceptions, and one fumble recovery and exited without a single offer, something that’s sure to change in the coming cycle.
Elijah Douglas (Pine Forest DL)
At this time last year, the Eagles defensive lineman had a grand total of zero offers as he was overshadowed by now-Nicholls State defensive linemen Rasheed Lovelace and Jaquan Fank. Now, he's the area's leader in scholarship offers with 22 and counting. His exposure ramped up most after dominating the Rivals camp in New Orleans. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound rusher enters the 2023 campaign with a newfound confidence and a much larger role. Expect him to put to shame his 69 tackles and three sacks from a season ago. — Lucas Semb, Pensacola News Journal
Devonte Lyons (St. Augustine RB)
This spot came down to a pair of rising junior talents in St. Johns County. Bartram Trail quarterback Riley Trujillo puts more zip on the ball with a stronger base, and plenty of Power Five schools took notice. However, 5-foot-10, 185-pound Lyons passed the eye test with a handful of roving college coaches — adding offers from East Carolina, Boston College, Miami, UCF and Marshall over the last month alone. He rushed for 909 yards and scored 14 touchdowns in his first year as the Jackets' full-time backfield workhorse. — Chris Boyle, St. Augustine Record
Jaylen Heyward (Rockledge ATH)
Heyward was a player who already was on the radar of most college recruiters when the spring started. A month later, it looks like Heyward will be one of the premier recruits in the class of 2024. An elite defensive back with tremendous ball skills as well a dangerous threat in the return game, the 6-foot, 180-ppunder performed as expected this spring. Alabama, Texas A&M, Ohio State, Michigan, North Carolina, Maryland and Ole Miss all offered in May. — Jon Santucci, USA Today Florida Network
Anthony Colandrea (Lakewood QB)
Spring games aren't typically given too much value. But the show Colandrea put in a half against Plantation in front of more than a dozen college coaches cannot be ignored. (It also didn't hurt to have Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver — and Lakewood graduate — Marquez Valdes-Scantling at the game talking up Colandrea to anyone who would listen.) The Middle Tennessee State commit threw four touchdown passes and showed the whole package (throwing on time, speed, toughness). The vibe on the sidelines was MTSU would be getting a steal if it is able to hold Colandrea's commitment for the next six months. — Jon Santucci, USA Today Florida Network
Alex Woods (Treasure Coast OL)
The USA Today Florida Network predicted Woods would have a breakout spring and that's exactly how it went. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound former defensive lineman two offers heading into the spring but picked up nine more between April 25 and May 9. That includes his first two Power 5 offers — Pitt and Iowa State — as well USF, Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina and FAU. Woods, who projects as a guard at the next level, moves well and is a standout run blocker. His pass protection needs work, but that can be attributed to the Titans run-heavy scheme. — Jon Santucci, USA Today Florida Network