The Big 15: See who from Estero, Dunbar, Naples ranked 10 to 6 on our top college recruits list

Alex Martin Dustin B Levy
Fort Myers News-Press

The Big 15: Ridin' in Style

About the Series: The Big 15 is the annual list of top Southwest Florida college football recruits selected by The News-Press and Naples Daily News. The players selected are from Lee and Collier counties and are ranked based on hard scholarship offers, the level of the schools making the offers, and those who possess the potential to receive attention from Power Five programs.

The theme for this year's team is Ridin' in Style and to capture their portraits, we brought our athletes to Naples Luxury Imports at 900 Tamiami Trail North. The dealership graciously opened its showrooms to our athletes so we could capture their picture posing with high-end sports and luxury vehicles. Larry Crowley of Crowley Construction allowed us to use his Corvette for one of our athletes.

10. Jason Duclona

Position: Athlete

School: Estero

Ranking: 3-star (247Sports, ESPN, On3, Rivals)

Commitment: Rutgers

Jason Duclona had a steep ascent.

He returned to football his sophomore after giving up the sport, and the prospects have since skyrocketed for the 6-foot-1, 175-pound defensive back. He signed to continue his playing career with Rutgers earlier this year.

With his brother Jonas committing to Cincinnati, the Duclona family fulfilled a dream of both brothers going Division-I.

On the field, Duclona is a focal point on both sides of the ball for the Wildcats, catching 30 passes for 576 yards and six touchdowns along with 31 tackles and a pair of interceptions last year.

2021 The Big 15:One year of high school football enough for recruiters to chase Estero’s Jason Duclona

More:Estero 3-star athlete Jason Duclona commits to Rutgers following official visit

What makes you one of the best players in Southwest Florida?

"I think it would be my athletic ability, my length. I can do it all, and I play multiple sports, so I stay in shape, stay conditioned. My intelligence too – that’s something I’m proud of."

What are some of your goals for the upcoming season?

"I'm going to break 1,200 yards. I'm going to try to get some picks, and hopefully, we win districts, go to states and compete in states."

Jason Duclona, Estero, No. 10  recruit in the Naples Daily News and News-Press' Big 15 for 2022. Photos were taken on site at Naples Luxury Imports.

Who is the toughest player you've faced locally?

"(Lehigh WR/DB) Kelton Henderson. He’s very fast, speedy. He loves to hit, and it’s just hard tackling him, bringing him down."

Who has helped you get to this point?

"My head coach Darren Nelson—he helps me a lot. My brother (Jonas Duclona) would be the second biggest person that helps me a lot with everything, so just those two really."

What does it mean to you to make the Big 15 along with your brother?

"It means a lot that we’re on this list, that our talent’s being shown. It means we’ve been working hard, and we just got to keep it up."

9. TJ Abrams

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Dunbar

Ranking: 4-star (ESPN, On3), 3-star (Rivals), NR (247Sports)

Commitment: None

How fast is TJ Abrams?

During the spring track and field season, the Dunbar sophomore put up one of the fastest times in the state when he ran a 10.62 in the 100 meters.

Abrams' speed, along with his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame, make him one of the most intriguing young prospects in the area. Power-5 schools took notice, and the offers have been coming in hot and heavy since April.

The Big 15: See who from Naples, FBA, Riverdale, North ranked No. 15 to No. 11 on our 2022 list

With the Tigers last season, Abrams caught 25 passes for 414 yards and six touchdowns in 10 games. He averaged 12.7 yards per kick return and 10.0 yards per punt return. 

With two high school seasons ahead of him, Abrams has already emerged as a nightmare to defend.

More:Southwest Florida high school football: 30 questions 30 days before start of 2022 season

What makes you one of the best players in Southwest Florida?

"I’m very hardworking. I don’t like to give up. I never like to lose, so what I got to do to win, I’m going to grind for it."

What game on the schedule are you most looking forward to?

"Every game really is the big game to me, but I’m really looking forward to Lehigh. It’s always a good game when we go there, big crowd, and they picked up some guys and we want to show them that, no matter who you pick up, we’re still the team."

How is the recruitment process going?

"It’s going great. Right now, I’m not really focused on colleges and committing and stuff. I’m just trying to finish high school and then go onto that. When I’m looking for a college, I’m looking for a team that’s going to develop me because my end goal is to go to the NFL, so, as a receiver, I want to go to a receiver school."

TJ Abrams, Dunbar, No. 9  recruit in the Naples Daily News and News-Press' Big 15 for 2022. Photos were taken on site at Naples Luxury Imports.

What local players do you view as under-the-radar talents?

"Kelby Tyre, he’s a great DB from our school, had three interceptions this year, a player on the rise. And then my little cousin, Chris Singleton, on the shorter side… a DB on the rise also. And then James Little goes to Lehigh now, but that’s a dog. I’m looking forward to seeing him do good in the future."

How did it feel getting so many offers this spring?

"Getting the offers was great, but I don’t really want it to go to my head because I like to stay humble, so the offers will come and then I’m going to continue to grind like I never had offers."

8. Kerry Brown

Position: Defensive Back

School: Naples

Ranking: 3-star (247Sports, ESPN, On3, Rivals)

Commitment: Minnesota

There's always a player on a very talented team that usually flies under the radar but makes just as big of an impact as others on the roster.

That was Kerry Brown last season for the Golden Eagles, who quietly put together one of the more impressive seasons of anyone in the Naples secondary, let alone Southwest Florida. 

His 82 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three interceptions, and one forced fumble operating as a hybrid between the defensive back position and linebacker earned him one of four finalist spots last year for the Southwest Florida Football Defensive Player of the Year award.

Committed to Minnesota, Brown established himself as one of the area's most reliable defensive pieces, regardless of position in 2021.

More:Naples standout defensive back Kerry Brown announces verbal commitment to Minnesota

What makes you one of the best players in Southwest Florida?

"I'm very aggressive, I'm versatile, I can play any position, and I just do what anybody can do best?"

What are your goals for 2022?

"My goals are just to work hard, provide for my teammates, and lead my team with the most tackles."

What game are you looking forward to the most?

"The game I have is American Heritage. That's going to be a good game for us to play. It'll help us a lot before the playoffs to keep us prepared."

Kerry Brown, Naples, No. 8 recruit in the Naples Daily News and The News-Press' The Big 15 for 2022. Photos were taken at Naples Luxury Imports.

Who do you think is an underrated player or two locally?

"From our school, I would say Keylijah Williams, and Thompson Defhommes."

Aside from yourself, who do you think is the best player in Southwest Florida?

"One of the best players are our two running backs, Kendrick (Raphael) and Isaiah Augustave."

Who has helped you get to where you are now?

"Who really helped me was my mom, and my coaches too, to help me get to where I need to go. They provide for me to be the best I can be."

7. Jonas Duclona

Position: Defensive Back

School: Naples

Ranking: 3-star (247Sports, ESPN, On3, Rivals)

Commitment: Cincinnati

Jonas Duclona was usually the cornerback that was picked on by opposing offenses last season.

That wasn't his fault. He just happened to be playing alongside a 4-star prospect in Devin Moore, who's now at Florida. Moore was the second-highest-rated defensive back in program history behind Tyler Byrd.

Duclona held his own and often made opponents pay when the ball was thrown his way. The 5-foot-11 corner had a team-high four interceptions to go along with a fumble recovery, a sack, and 26 tackles, and was eventually rewarded with multiple offers from Power Five programs. He committed to Cincinnati, a team that made it to the College Football Playoff last season.

2021 The Big 15: Naples junior DB Jonas Duclona went from balling on the court to the gridiron

More:FBA's Olsen Patt Henry, Naples' Jonas Duclona, Golden Eagles shine at FBU Top Gun Showcase

What makes you one of the best players in Southwest Florida?

"What makes me one of the best players now is that I'm more experienced. I'm a senior, I'm strong, fast, and really athletic. Most of the kids around here don't really have the ability to keep up like that."

What are some of your goals for 2022?

"My main goal is to win states. That's the one I've got on my mind. I don't really care about the personal goals. Just want to win states for my team."

What's a game or two you have circled?

"I'm really looking forward to that (American) Heritage game and Venice. I get to guard the No. 1 receiver in the nation (Brandon Inniss). If I do good, that's going to bring me attention. Those are the games I'm looking forward to, the big name teams."

Jonas Duclona, Naples, No. 7 recruit in the Naples Daily News and The News-Press' The Big 15 for 2022. Photos were taken at Naples Luxury Imports.

Who would you attribute your success to, getting to where you are now?

"The people I'd like to credit the most is coach Chris (Moore), Devin Moore's dad with the Florida Phenoms. He was the main person in my journey... Without coach Moore, I would not be in this position right now. He's helped me so much. I want to thank my Naples High coaches for that."

What was it like to see Devin Moore's success translate to college coaches visiting Naples to watch you and others?

"We talked about this since we were younger. His dad had a dream for us. He wanted me to go to Naples High. He knew Devin was going to get noticed, so coaches come to the school, they see a 6-foot-3 corner and go, 'Who's on the other side? They're not throwing it to Devin's side, they're throwing to the other side.' If I'm making plays, of course I'm going to get noticed. It was really brought up since we were younger, and it helped me and my teammates now, like Kerry. Devin was a big part in the journey too. I want to thank him for that."

6. Kendrick Raphael

Position: Running Back

School: Naples

Ranking: 4-star (247Sports, ESPN, On3, Rivals)

Commitment: Iowa

In a year everyone wants to move on from, you can't help but remember the promise that Naples running back Kendrick Raphael showed during the 2020 season as a sophomore.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound speedster led the Golden Eagles in rushing ( 661 yards), yards per carry (7.7), and touchdowns (9) that year.

In his first full varsity season in 2021, Raphael ran like a veteran, finishing with 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns. And the college scouts noticed as Power Five offers started rolling in.

Just under two months ago, Raphael committed to Iowa, looking to continue his success in another run-heavy program in the Hawkeyes.

More:Introducing the 2021 Naples Daily News All-Area Football Offense Team

More:Who are the most underrated high school football players in Southwest Florida in 2021?

What makes you one of the best players in Southwest Florida?

"I study the game a lot. I'm a very detailed player. I'm just very different in my work ethic."

What was the decision-making process in switching jersey numbers from No. 6 to No. 0?

"I'm really excited to change it, and after I'm done wearing it, pass it down to someone who deserves it as well. Someone that's going to be great and a leader for our team."

Kendrick Raphael, Naples, No. 6 recruit in the Naples Daily News and The News-Press' The Big 15 for 2022. Photos were taken at Naples Luxury Imports.

What's it like to see so many of your teammates headed to the Power Five level with you?

"It feels great. It's just a blessing. It's what we all wished for when we were little kids, and honestly, it's great that we can set a legacy for the other kids that will come out."

Who are players locally that you consider under the radar?

"I'm gonna say Jean Tanelus, Ebenezer Bouzi, Keylijah Williams, and Richemard Mellien."

Do you have a dream NIL deal?

"Probably something like a car or whatever, but I'm not really worried that much about NIL deals. I've just got to show what I can do on the field before I get it."