ESS each spring, summer and fall goes out and watches some of the best prospects in the country. We had the opportunity to evaluate some impressive players this spring. Trey Sanders distance himself from the rest of the class as he displayed physical skills that the ELITE players possess. He was not the only player who looked good. Another player who stood out to us this spring was Knowledge McDaniel. He is a player who has gone under the radar for a while now. Over the next few months this list will continue to change and as it does we will be right there to report it.
1) Trey Sanders-IMG Academy-6’1-210: Sanders is not only the top back in Florida but possibly the country. He has the size and speed that you want in an elite back. He can make one cut, hit the hole and be off to the races. He is a premier player in the 2018 Class. Not only is he an elite runner, Sanders is very effective as a pass catcher out of the backfield.
2) Noah Cain-IMG Academy-5’10-210: Cain is a big, physical back. He is a prospect we could easily see playing at 220-225 pounds at the next level. He has the power to run between the tackles and the speed and quickness to bounce it outside.
3) Nayquan Wright-Carol City-5’9-180: When Healthy, Wright is an elite level back. He has the type of speed and quickness to play at a very high level. You get Wright into the open field and he can go the distance. We saw him recently at a football camp and Wright performed very well.
4) Mark Richards-Wellington-6’2-190: Richards is a big, power back. He is also a very good athlete. He is listed as a running back but we could easily see him line up at safety or linebacker in college as well. He is the type of athlete you recruit and worry where to line him up once on campus.
5) Marcus Crowley-Trinity Christian-6’1-200: (Committed to Miami): Crowley is a prospect we first saw as freshman at Trinity Christian. He has grown into an impressive looking prospect. He is a big, physical back. He moves well for someone his size. You watch him in 7 on 7 events and this is a kid that could also play multiple positions at the next level.
6) Cesar Mellusi-Naples High School:6’1-200: (Committed to Clemson): Last time Naples had a back this good his name was Carlos Hyde. Mellusi has good vision and has the patience to wait for a hole to open up in the line of scrimmage. He has the ability to run downhill. He plays in an offense that should allow him to put up big numbers in 2018.
7) Kenny McIntosh-University School: 6’1-190: McIntosh has been starting since his freshman season. He has good size. He also has pretty good burst as well. What he lacks is great top end speed. He will consistently get you 4-5 yards and then wear a defense down and pick up a big play. He is also effective on defense and would make a great linebacker.
8) Glover Cook-Vanguard: 6’0-175: (Committed to Louisville): Cook is the type of prospect that flies under the radar and ends up the top back in the class. He has the physical attributes you look for in a running back. He has the size, speed and quickness you want in a back.
9)Knowledge McDaniel-Braden River-5’11-220: We really liked McDaniel’s film. When we got to meet him in person, we came away even more impressed. He physically looks like a back that has been in college for two years already. He not only is a very good running back but McDaniel is one of the best pass catchers in his class.
10)Daniel Carter-Saint Thomas-5’11-200: Carter is another running back that comes in with a ton of hype. He will get his chance to move up this list with an impressive senior season. His offense this year will focus on the run and Carter will get his chances to impress.
11)Treshuan Ward-Plant City-5’10-175: Ward is a back that runs well in space. You spread the field and let him find the running lane and get out of the way. He has the speed to go the distance anywhere on the field. He is not the type of back you are going to pound into a defense for 25 carries. He can also play on special teams and make an impact.
12)Vincent Davis-Cardinal Gibbons-5’9-170: Davis is not the biggest back on this list. What he does bring is a back that if you give him carries, he will produce. Gibbons offense is much more difficult to stop once Davis gets rolling. He is the ideal fit for a spread offense. His speed and quickness makes him difficult to slow down. Forget about putting a linebacker on Davis as he will win that battle every time.
13)Walter Wilbon-Plant High School: 5’11-190: Wilbon is another much underrated running back. He runs with good balance. He is not an easy back to knock down. He will fight through the first tackle and pick up yards after contact. He also has sneaky speed. He does not always look like he is running fast until your defenders are chasing him from behind.
14)Keshawn King-Oakleaf-6’0-180: King had a great junior season. He is a back that runs counters. You get him a cut back lane and he will expose it. He can put his foot in the ground, change directions and get into the end-zone.
15) Peter Hayes Patrick-Timber Creek-5’10-190: Patrick is the brother of Jacques Patrick who is FSU starting running back. He has a similar running style like his brother. He runs straight up and does well going N/S. He is not as big as his brother and may have a little more top end speed.
Others to look out for:
- Jatarie Washington-Pahokee-5’10-190: Washington is your typical Pahokee player. Undersized but can run like a deer. He is super quick and once in the open field forget about trying to catch him. He is very elusive. Try and arm tackle him and Washington will break the tackle and end up in the end-zone. He could end up one of the top 10 backs in Florida by seasons end.
- Lexington Joseph-Miami Central-5’8-175: With the loss of Amari Daniels, Joseph was able to get most of the touches this spring. He did not disappoint as Daniels put on a show this spring. He has good balance. Try knocking this kid off his feet. He can take contact, keep his feet moving and break off long touchdown runs. We expect a monster season from Joseph.
- Devin Ellison-Bartram Trail-5’8-175: Ellison is a player who you can line up at running back or receiver and he will be effective. He is a smart kid who understands the game of football. He is not an every down back but let him share the ball with a power back at the next level and he will compliment your offense really well.
- Lavelton Williams-American Heritage Plantation-6’0-220: Williams is a big, powerful back. He will take on defenders and try and run them over. If you come in low on Williams, you may take a knee to the head. Come in high and good luck. He is a back you hand the ball to and he will wear your defense down.
- Niko Duffey-Tampa Jefferson-5’10-170: Duffey can run in all types of weather. He has quick feet and that is something that all backs need. He can cut on a dime and get into the open field. He does a good job of making the first defender miss.
- Brandon Marshall-Raines-5’9-180: Marshall helped carry Raines to a state title last season. He was injured in the state title game so it will be interesting to see how he comes back. If he puts together a good senior season there will be plenty of teams who will be willing to sign him.
- Jacob Baptiste-Miami Northwestern-5’11-190: Jacob has been a very productive running back in high school. He is not real big or fast but give him the ball and Jacob will get the job done. He is a kid who you give the ball to 20 times and look down at the stat sheet and he has 150 yards.
- Willie Davis-Chaminade-5’8-180: Davis job this year is to replace one of the most productive backs in Broward County last season. Davis gives you a back that runs physical for someone his size. He tries to run like a power back. He has some quickness which allows him to shed defenders. He can also be used in the passing game.
- Jalen Mitchell-Rockledge-5’9-200: Mitchell is a back that really impressed us this spring. He also takes over for one of the top backs in Florida. He is a back that runs with patience. He will wait to the line opens up a running lane and Mitchell will find it. He does a good job of picking up yards.
- DJ Williams-Sebring-5’10-190: Williams was a back we really thought would break through after an impressive start to his career. He has a straight up running style that will subject him to some direct hits. If he gets into the open field, Williams will make a defense pay.
- Abram Smiley-Pensacola-5’11-215: Smiley is a back that is effective running between the tackles. He can bounce it outside but most of his success will be up the middle. He is the type of back that gets better with each carry.
- Tony Street-Godby-5’9-190: Street was a very productive player last season. He is a compact back who is very difficult to bring down. He will run through tackles and get into the open field. He has good burst once given the ball. He is a back that continues to accelerate down the field.
- Courtney Reese-Southridge-5’9-160: Reese is not real big (5’9). That being said he does not mind contact. Get him the ball and he will try and run through a defender. He relies on his speed and quickness to make plays.
- Michael Hurt-University School-5’8-160: Hart is the perfect back to pair with McIntosh. When defenses have to tackle McIntosh all game long and then all of sudden Hart comes into the game, he usually breaks off a long run. Hart does a good job of hiding behind his blockers. By the time the defense gets an eye on him, he is off to the races.
- Nigel White-Saint Thomas-5’9-150: White teams with Daniel Carter to give Saint Thomas one of the better backfields in Broward County. Carter will be Thunder as White will be lightning. He brings some speed and quickness to an offense that needs some play makers this season.
- Marcus Barthell-Miami Senior-5’9-170: One of the reasons why Miami Sr was good last season was their ability to run the football. Barthell will be their main back this season. He is another undersized back that will try and outrun every opponent.
- Anwar Lewis-Pine Forest-5’8-170: Lewis plays in a part of Florida that usually gets overlooked. He is another undersized back that will need to find an offense in college that fits his skill set.
- Matthew Pittman: Tampa Jesuit-5’11-215: Pittman plays at a school that likes to run the football. He will get plenty of touches this year and should be productive. He will be needed to ground and pound the football this year. He is a guy that helps move the chains.