When you talk about Florida high school talent, some of it was on display this past weekend at Jacksonville University, as the second leg of the Scout.com tour landed in the Sunshine State.
One week after a successful debut at Duke University in Durham, N.C., nearly 100 of the top athletes in Florida made their way to the First Coast for a day of testing and learning.
Two prospects that stood out among the many talented stars in attendance were a pair of www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring 275 teammates in safety Joseph McCauley (5-10, 180), who was rated by Larry Blustein at No. 71, and wide receiver Latarrius Thomas (6-2, 195), rated No. 44, of New Smyrna Beach High School.
"Typical New Smyrna athletes," said Blustein. "Tough, athletic and willing to sacrifice their bodies to win football games."
After a few years out of the spotlight, the Barracudas have surfaced once again with players like McCauley and Thomas, who have put this program back on the map.
McCauley is not one of the biggest safeties in Florida this year, but he makes up for that by being tough and having good technique. He is the ideal safety prospect and should be getting some D1A offers this year. He also has the athletic ability to cover as well.
When you talk to any opposing coach who has played against this young man, all will agree that here is a player who can make a difference because of his work ethic.
"The McCauley kid is someone you know will come to play every game," said Port Orange Spruce Creek head coach Jared Zito. "He is tough minded and plays this game with a lot of passion."
As I sat there, taking notes watching McCauley, I kept asking myself what was there to like about him? First off, he never backs down. When they went into one-on-one drills, McCauley was one of the few who were able to hold their own.
He did a good job in man coverage and was almost impossible to get by if he lined up in the receivers' face. Where he may struggle at times is in zone coverage. McCauley is best when he does not have to cover a lot of ground.
What also was impressive about McCauley is he seems to be a student of the game. He loves football and listened to everything we had to say when teaching technique. With another solid year in 2005, McCauley is a name that may get some attention.
Thomas, however, is someone I knew little about before the camp. After talking with Blustein, he did hint that the kid had plenty of potential, but never quite reached it yet. I predict that this is the year that all changes!
By looking at him, there is no doubt that he more than passes the look test. He is big, physical and runs good routes. I also did not see him drop a ball in the one-on-one drill, which is the true measure of judging talent.
What I also liked is Thomas was always one of the first players in line. That also shows me something when having to promote him and push him to colleges that Blustein and I deal with on a daily basis. He is real competitive and seems to be one of those players that wants to be the best.
"There is no doubt that Thomas has all the tools to be a great one," said Zito. "If he does put it all together, he could emerge as one of the best in Florida."
If there is a part of his game he could improve on, its getting better separation at the line of scrimmage and improving his speed. Realizing that he does have great size, he doesn't want to put his body through too much at the next level - and beyond. If he is able to improve on those two parts of his game, there is no telling how impressive he can be.
OVERALL: These are two prospects that Floridakids.us will continue to keep an eye on. Thomas is a player that could be among the top 25 once the season starts. McCauley could remain in the top 100 with a solid senior year.
Charles Fishbein is a recruiting analyst for www.floridakids.us. You can contact him with story ideas at CFishbein@aol.com.
MORE FISHBEIN ARCHIVED STORIES:
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STEPPING OUT THE SHADOW: Gene Atkins Jr.
HIDDEN GEM: HECTOR HERNANDEZ
IMMOKALEE: NICE GUYS DO FINISH FIRST
POMPANO BEACH ELY RUNNING BACKS
IN THE TRENCHES
SOUTH FLORIDA LINEMEN – PART I
SOUTH FLORIDA LINEMEN – PART II
SOUTH FLORIDA LINEMEN – PART III
IN THE HUDDLE – TYLER RICE
IN THE HUDDLE – KENRICK ELLIS
IN THE HUDDLE – EMMANUEL COOK
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PALM BEACH LAKES
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