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December 15, 2011
FHSAA Football Finals prospect preview II
This weekend, Inside the Gators will be reporting live from Orlando as the FHSAA Football Finals conclude with the 5A, 6A, 7A and 8A state championship games. With some of the premier high school programs in the state and country on display, there will be plenty of prospects the Gators are interested in taking the field. Before the action beings, we'll break down thee recruits in each game Florida fans should be watching.
Class 6A Final: Seffner Armwood vs. Miami Central, Saturday at 1:06 p.m.
Commitment Status: Florida solid verbal
Prospect Breakdown: The Gators' lone remaining running back commit after the decommitment of Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson back Mike Davis, Jones' importance to the Armwood offense has been inconsistent during the postseason. Jones' pledge to Florida seems about as solid as it gets.
Game Preview: Less heralded prospects like fellow senior running back Wade Edwards have often been the primary workhorses for the Hawks during this playoff stretch. While Jones has contributed, it is tough to decide exactly how much he will be relied upon against a Central squad that features a trio of Division I linebackers.
Commitment Status: Undecided; has a top five of Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, South Florida and Vanderbilt
Prospect Breakdown: A top candidate to be one of the premier defensive backs in the country as a senior, McQuay has held heavy interest in Florida even after taking a plethora of visits this fall. He spent the fall visiting schools on a nearly weekly basis but walked away saying his two favorite schools are Florida and Vanderbilt.
Game Preview: McQuay has been quite the ball hawk throughout the state playoffs, highlighted by an acrobatic interception that helped seal a victory over nearby rival Tampa Hillsborough. He will likely be busy against a Central offense that has consistently put up big numbers this season.
Commitment Status: Undecided; holds offers from South Florida and Vanderbilt
Prospect Breakdown: When someone who has seen as much good football as Armwood head coach Sean Callahan speaks, people tend to listen. So ears have been sparked when he has repeatedly said week after week that Bailey is the best football player in the state of Florida. Colleges have noticed the breakout season from the current wildcat quarterback as well. Bailey has said Florida has picked up interest a lot over the season (Jones is one of his best friends on the team) and an offer from South Carolina is expected soon.
Game Preview: For the vast majority of the season, Armwood has gone as its junior leader with a high-top fade has gone. That will not change against Central. As a quarterback and special teams standout, Bailey will be the most important player on the field for the Hawks come Saturday.
Class 8A Final: Tampa Plant vs. Miramar, Saturday at 7:06 p.m.
Commitment Status: Undecided; has a top six of Alabama, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Miami and West Virginia
Prospect Breakdown: The most highly-touted player to take the field at the Citrus Bowl this weekend, all eyes will be on Howard as he enters a showdown with Plant and an opportunity to cap off an undefeated season with a state title. Recruiting-wise, Howard will remain quiet until he makes his final decision at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7. However, most believe he is locked into a two-team race between Florida and Florida State, with the Seminoles holding the upper hand. As the nation's No. 1 cornerback, Howard has been dominant during his high school career by combining both a physical presence on defense with an electric playmaking ability on special teams.
Game Preview: In likely the best receiver-corner match-up of the weekend, Howard will probably be tagging along with Plant wide out Austin Aikens, who currently has a collegiate top four of Cincinnati, Iowa, Missouri and Vanderbilt. Aikens led Plant with 704 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns on the season. Howard's ability to keep him quiet will be huge for Miramar's chances. Aikens was held to 27 yards on four catches in Plant's only setback of the season, a 21-0 loss to Armwood on Oct. 28.
Commitment Status: Undecided; holds an offer from Florida State
Prospect Breakdown: Miramar's defense is one that throws a lot of different looks at opponents, and right in the middle of it all has been Grace. Second on the team in tackles with 37, Grace has also been solid dropping back into coverage with two interceptions. His recruitment has not developed extremely fast, but one can only assume he'll be given every opportunity this off-season and next year playing for a high-profile program like Miramar.
Game Preview: Plant gives chances to a number of different people in the passing game, meaning Grace's coverage skills will be tested in full.