In a night filled with turnovers and penalties….especially penalties, the Lakeland Dreadnaughts still shined. Bartow had a few young players as well who showed some potential and have a year or more to develop further.
Lakeland has no bigger prospect than star offensive linemen Evan Goodman. Goodman continues to shine and is really playing well in all areas. He is destined to be a Guard with his size, athleticism, tenacity, and ability to get to the second level and block. Whenever there was a breakaway run, Goodman was their leading the way downfield.
In addition to Goodman, the Lakeland offense has some other talented prospects as well in Ricquan Southward, Matt Bowden, and Raheeme Dumas. Southward, a 2012 wide receiver, is playing as I predicted he might. He is fast and unlike other Lakeland receivers prior to him, he has decent size at 5'11" 185. While he is not quite the elite burner that the McRoys were, Southward can stretch the field, has good hands, and excels in jump balls and on the fade. In addition to that, he is also a dangerous return man. Bowden, a 2012 offensive linemen, is not overly tall at 6'2" 275, but he has quick feet and is an excellent blocker at the second level. With his strength and ability to move, he could make a good Center at the next level, especially for those spread teams that look for smaller, quicker linemen. Dumas, who plays quarterback, was a slated to be a starting cornerback before Clark was ruled ineligible pending appeal. As a quarterback, he is a great fit for the option offense that Lakeland usually runs, but he does not have the arm to play the position at the next level. At about 5'11.5" to 6'0" and 175 pounds, Dumas has great size to play corner and has speed and good flexibility, but might be better suited to play safety.
On defense, Lakeland's big prospects are Logan Cochran, D.J. Alexander, and T.J. Simmons. Cochran is one of the transfers from George Jenkins who is really playing well. A 2012 linebacker, Cochran is on the smaller side at 6'0" 190, but he plays the position well. He is a sound tackler who hits hard, and has shown off his ability to drop into coverage with several interceptions this season, at least one returned for a touchdown. He reminds me a lot of Troy Johnson from Iowa who also played for Lakeland, but just a bit shorter. Alexander, a 2013 safety, is a leader for the Dreadnaught secondary. He possesses tremendous speed and range to go along with sound open field tackles and great ball hawking skills. He is not overly big to play safety at 5'10" 160, but former Lakeland star Ahmad Black did very well for himself in college after coming out around the same size, and Alexander is faster. Simmons, a 2013 linebacker, is something special. He is a strong player with good downhill speed and the ability to deliver punishing hits. He excels in run support, zipping through holes to disrupt plays in the backfield. At 6'0" 220, he has good size and is developing into a quality middle linebacker, and with another year to go after this, might grow a bit more and continue improving in pass coverage.
One of the most impressive looking players for Bartow was a two way player named Freddie Stevenson. On offense, the 6'1" 220lb Stevenson plays tight end and running back where he is a dangerous weapon. He is a versatile athlete who catches well and is tough to bring down. He was averaging 7 yards per carry at one point. Stevenson is a great mismatch player when covered by safeties and linebackers because he doesn't have true tight end size, but has the physicality and is quicker. On defense, Stevenson plays outside linebacker which plays to his ability to move well laterally. Judging by size, he will get most looks at linebacker and still has another year to develop after this year.
Bartow's offense also featured two small, speedy skill players in Jordan White and Aaron Garrison. Garrison, a 5'9 160lb running back in the 2013 class, has lots of speed and was dangerous on the perimeter. He was picking up yardage in chunks during the first half before getting knocked out of the game. The knock will be his size, but he has time to possibly grow more. His build is much like Chris Rainey's was in high school, so the chances of that might be slim. White is a promising looking slot receiver who runs good routes and exploits holes in zone coverage well. Speed and quick cuts make him tough to cover as well. At 5'9" 170 he is small, but he too is part of the 2013 class so he has time to add some weight.
Another player to potentially watch for down the road is 2014 quarterback Dimitri Leverett. He is a dual threat type with a solid arm and can make all the throws, but like many young quarterback at this early stage, accuracy and timing are areas for improvement. At 6'0" 200, he is right on the cusp size wise, and has two years to grow and hone his skills.