For many high school football teams around the country, having just one player receive interest from a major college football program is a rare and special achievement. For a select school fews, though, it’s considered to be an annual norm.
This year, there are a few notable teams whose rosters are filled with high-profile prospects. It’s no surprise that many of them just so happen to be located in one of the “Big Three” states for recruiting: California, Florida and Texas.
So which teams will feature the most top recruits from the 2015 class this fall?
Here’s a look at the 10 most talented high school football teams in the country.
*Note: All recruit rankings are courtesy of 247Sports’ composite ratings.
1. St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
St. Thomas Aquinas has produced dozens of NFL players, including four players who were selected in this year’s NFL draft: Lamarcus Joyner, Dezmen Southward, Brandon Linder and James White. Considering the amount of talent the Fort Lauderdale powerhouse possesses for the upcoming season, it wouldn’t be surprising if the team’s 2014 class produces a few future pros as well.
Though the Raiders may lack a true blue-chip recruit, their talent depth is truly remarkable.
The most intriguing player is a new one: RB Jordan Scarlett, a 4-star prospect who transferred from University High School following the departure of head coach Roger Harriott. Scarlett, who recently decommitted from Florida Atlantic, rushed for 932 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior. He’s got big-name schools such as Florida State, Miami, Ohio State and South Carolina on his short list of favorites.
Joining Scarlett on offense is fellow RB Detron Sands—a Maryland commit, WR Devante Pee—a 4-star recruit who is considering offers from Miami, Ohio State, Alabama and LSU, and two standout offensive linemen: 6’4’’, 301-pound Samuel Clausman and 6’5’’, 300-pound Colin Byrne. Both Clausman and Byrne are committed to Syracuse.
The defense is stocked full of talent as well. It’s a unit that features at least seven players who will sign with FBS schools. CB Richard Causey is committed to Florida Atlantic. DE Chris Hart is deciding between offers from Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi State and Wisconsin. CB Damon Arnett boasts offers from South Carolina and Ohio State. DT Brandon Boyce is committed to Duke. Safety Tyson Cisrow has offers from Penn State, Cincinnati, Duke and West Virginia. DT Richard Desir-Jones and DE Wyatt Ray both have offers from Cincinnati and Syracuse.
As if having so much senior talent wasn’t enough, the Raiders also have two of the top-rated prospects in the 2016 class: five-star prospects DT Edwin Alexander and DE Nick Bosa, patrolling the trenches.
After posting a 10-3 record and coming up short in the 7A state playoffs in 2013, Aquinas returns enough talent to not only compete for a state championship this year, but a potential No. 1 national ranking as well.
2. Serra Cavaliers (Gardena, California)
Located just 10 miles from the USC campus, Junipero Serra High School has been an outstanding feeder program for the Trojans. In recent years, the Gardena school has sent top-notch talents like Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Adoree’ Jackson to the Land of Troy.
This year, the Cavaliers have plenty of coveted recruits that USC and many other power programs from around the nation are chasing.
The two standouts are LB John Houston and DT Rasheem Greene. Houston and Greene are both considered to be elite 5-star recruits and they’re both rated as premier players at their respective positions. USC and UCLA are both on their short lists of favorites.
While the two blue-chip defenders may be the ones making all the headlines this summer, the Cavaliers have plenty of other prospects that are worth watching out for.
WR Stanley Norman, a transfer from Culver City High School, is a dynamic weapon in the passing game, and one of the top overall athletes in the nation. Like his teammates, Norman is being chased by both USC and UCLA, as well as Alabama, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.
Norman may be the most gifted playmaker on offense, but the unit features plenty of other intriguing prospects as well. RB Malik Roberson is a 3-star prospect who holds offers from Arizona State, Boston College, Oregon State and UCLA. Fellow receiver Deontay Burnett is an emerging talent who seems ready to have a big senior year. Jack Dreyer is a massive 6’8’’, 285-pound tackle who has gained the attention of schools such as Arizona State, Nebraska, Washington State and Wisconsin.
Houston and Greene are obviously the team’s two impact defenders. But Corey Adolphus, a 3-star rated DE who is committed to San Jose State, and LB Blake Walls, an undersized yet tenacious OLB, are also key cogs as well.
After having their undefeated season snapped in a 38-35 loss to Chaminade in the CIF Southern Section Final last year, the Cavaliers will have the motivation to go along with an abundance of game-changers on both sides of the ball to make another huge run in 2014.
3. Trinity Christian Conquerors (Jacksonville, Florida)
The face of this year’s squad will once again be CB Kevin Toliver II. Not only is Toliver the top overall recruit in the state of Florida, he’s widely considered to be one of the top prospects of the 2015 class. The LSU commit is arguably the best DB prospect to come out of the Sunshine State since Patrick Peterson.
Though Toliver casts a bit of a shadow over his teammates, plenty of other players on Trinity Christian’s roster have received scholarship offers from some of college football’s top teams.
The Conquerors defense is absolutely loaded with highly athletic playmakers. It’s a unit that looks to potentially be the best overall defense in high school football this year.
Joining Toliver in the secondary are safeties Ben Edwards, an Auburn commit, and Deontai Williams, a Florida commit, and fellow corner Chris Barr, who holds offers from numerous Big Ten and American Athletic Conference schools.
The defensive backfield isn’t the only stacked unit, though. Trinity Christian has arguably the best linebacker corps in the country as well. Jeffrey Holland, a 4-star prospect who has been offered by basically every big-name program you could think of, is the leader of the group. Rounding out the unit is Victor Alexander, a UCLA commit, and Andre Smith, who is committed to North Carolina.
Florida and Florida State are in a heated battle to land two-way standout Kendrick Norton, a 4-star prospect who could have a future as either an offensive guard or a defensive tackle at the next level.
On offense, junior RB Jalin Buie—an Auburn commit who is already considered to be one of the top prospects in the 2016 class, is the must-watch showstopper.
Last season, Trinity Christian won its games by an average score of 34-10 en route to a 12-1 season that culminated with a 3A state title. With so much talent returning, especially on the defensive side of the ball, the defending champs should be even more dominant in 2014.
4. Cedar Hill Longhorns (Cedar Hill, Texas)
Cedar Hill came stumbling out of the gate last season, trudging to a 2-2 start. However, once the Longhorns found their groove, they looked basically unstoppable. They rallied to win their final 12 games, including a 34-24 victory over Katy in the 5A D2 championship game.
With the type of talent that the team boasts this year, it’s expected that the defending champs will find themselves right back in the title game in 2014.
Though the team is once again loaded with quality talent on both sides of the ball, it’s not difficult to figure out who the Longhorns’ MVP really is. WR Damarkus Lodge, a 6’3’’, 190-pound 5-star prospect, is coming off a sensational junior season, in which he hauled in 71 catches for 1,256 yard (17.7 yards per catch) and 21 touchdowns. Lodge, who is committed to Texas A&M, has solidified his status as one of the premier pass-catchers in the 2015 class.
The big-play threat has established a terrific passing partnership with QB Justin McMillan, a 3-star prospect who is committed to LSU. McMillan is also coming off an impressive 2013 campaign, in which he totaled over 2,800 yards of offense and accounted for 28 total touchdowns.
Lodge and McMillan are two of the most feared playmakers in the state of Texas. However, RB Aca’Cedric Ware is also a formidable threat that opposing defenses have to worry about. After rushing for 1,289 yards on just 139 carries (9.2 yards per touch), the 3-star prospect has opened up eyes and begun to receive offers from notable programs such as Clemson, Florida, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Ole Miss.
Versatile rushing/receiving weapon Denvre Daniels is yet another weapon that the Longhorns have to unleash on defenses. Daniels—who rushed for 449 yards, caught 42 passes for 531 yards and scored six touchdowns in 2013—has yet to receive any offers from “Power 5” conference teams. However, that could soon change if he put together the type of senior year he’s capable of.
With an offense that’s so potent and explosive, it almost doesn’t seem fair that the Cedar Hill defense features players the caliber of LB Richard Moore, a Texas A&M commit, and CB Darrell Miller, a 3-star prospect who is deciding between offers from Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State and Tennessee.
5. St. Edward Eagles (Lakewood, Ohio)
St. Edward hasn’t won a state title since its undefeated 2010 season. This year, however, the Eagles have the talent necessary to end that drought. Not only is Rick Finotti’s squad the most talented team in Ohio, it’s one of the most impressive teams in the nation.
Leading the way on offense will be returning starting QB Brett Kean, a South Florida commit who threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2013. Luckily for Kean, he’s got plenty of weapons to work with once again. Twin brothers David Dowell and Andrew Dowell, who are both committed to Northwestern, and WR Alex Stump, who is committed to Kentucky, form one of the best offensive skill-position trios in the country
The real player to watch, though, is CB Shaun Crawford, a 4-star rated prospect who is currently committed to Notre Dame. The 5’10’’, 175-pound speedster is one of the fastest and most athletic defensive backs in the 2015 class.
Though Crawford is the star of the defense, LB Troy Henderson Jr. isn’t too shabby either. The 3-star OLB has already received offers from Cincinnati, Syracuse and Rutgers. Henderson should begin to garner even more attention during his senior year. Fellow LB Troy Dipre, who is committed to Kent State, may not be as physically gifted as Crawford or Henderson, but he’s one of the defense’s key foundation players.
The Eagles clearly have the talent to make a run at a state title this year, and reassert themselves as the premier program in the state of Ohio.
6. American Heritage Patriots (Plantation, Florida)
Led by the most dynamic and dangerous dual-threat quarterback in the 2015 class: super-athlete Torrance Gibson, American Heritage is a team that has aspirations of repeating as 5A state champs in 2014.
The Patriots may have lost star playmakers such as RB Sony Michel and WR Isaiah McKenzie. But they still have plenty of talent returning from a team that finished the 2013 season with a 12-1 record, which culminated with a 66-8 blowout win over Clay in the championship game.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about this year’s team. But the buzz mainly centers around Gibson. The 6’4’’, 200-pound 5-star QB put together a dazzling highlight-reel during a junior season, in which he threw for over 1,800 yards, rushed for over 1,00 yards and accounted for 29 total touchdowns. The versatile run-pass threat has a huge list of offers, but he’s reportedly narrowed down his search to seven schools: Tennessee, Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma, UCF, Miami and Ohio State.
Gibson may be the star of the show on offense, but it’s American Heritage’s defense, especially the secondary, that could be the real story of the 2014 season.
The leader of the group is 6’3’’, 198-pound CB Tarvarus McFadden. The 5-star prospect has offers from Florida State, LSU, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC, just to name a few. Joining McFadden in the secondary will be safety Deonta Fair, who will have the chance to step out of his more heralded teammate’s shadow as a senior.
Linebackers Andre Jumper and Anthony Flory are two other defenders that could garner some serious recruiting interest by putting together strong senior seasons.
7. Miramar Patriots (Hollywood, Florida)
A hard-fought 12-10 loss to Palm Beach Gardens in the Regional Finals of the 8A playoffs ended Miramar’s otherwise highly successful 2013 campaign on a sour note. But looking on the positive side, the tough defeat should at least give the Patriots players plenty of motivation, heading in the 2014 season.
Considering how much talent returns from last year’s 12-win squad, this is clearly a team that will be back in the thick of the title chase this fall.
Miramar’s defense, which allowed just seven points per game last year, is once again set to be one of the most stout units in the nation.
Leading the way are two 4-star prospects in the secondary: CB Tyrek Cole, a Florida State commit, and safety Kendrell McFadden, who has committed to West Virginia. Joining Cole and McFadden in the secondary will be Herbert Miller, a Florida Atlantic commit, and Jeffrey Hill, who is committed to Northern Illinois.
While defense may be what carries Miramar to success in 2014, the Patriots offense also features its fair share of FBS prospects as well.
RB Alex Anderson and WR Kahlil Lewis are both 3-star prospects who have committed to West Virginia. OG Leonard Brown, who is committed to Miami, is one of the state’s top offensive line prospects.
Though the Patriots don’t have a true blue-chip recruit this year, they have the type of talent depth that few other teams in the country can match.
8. DeSoto Eagles (DeSoto, Texas)
Over the last three seasons, DeSoto has been one of the most consistently successful high school football teams in America, compiling a 38-4 overall record.
The Eagles have managed to replace top-tier talent year after year and still remain champion contenders on an annual basis. Once again, they’ll have some critical holes to fill this offseason, most notably at quarterback following the departure of standout signal-caller Desmon White. Luckily, though, they have more than enough talent to make up for the inexperience behind center.
The offense will feature three 3-star prospects at the skill-positions: RB Jatory Sparks-Brown, a San Diego State commit, and receivers Kevin Thomas and Akile Davis, who combined to catch 92 passes last season. Thomas and Davis each hold multiple offers from “Power 5” conference teams.
On defense, the most intriguing player is short but stout 5’11’’, 315-pound DT Bryce English. The reigning 7A Defensive Player of the Year decomitted from Texas in the spring. The 3-star prospect is now mulling over offers from schools such as Arizona State, Arkansas, Iowa, TCU, UCLA and Wisconsin.
Though English is the most celebrated player on DeSoto’s defense, the unit also features plenty of other prospects that are loaded with potential such as LB Chris Orr, a Wisconsin commit, safety EJ Muhammad, a Nevada commit, and safety Damon Weaver.
While DeSoto may not have a true elite prospect like fellow Texas schools such as Cedar Hill (WR Damarkus Lodge) and Allen (QB Kyler Murray), the Eagles are one of the deepest teams in not just the state, but the entire country.
9. Hoover Buccaneers (Hoover, Alabama)
Hoover has already established itself as the premier program in the state of Alabama. There’s no reason to believe the Buccaneers’ recent run of dominance—which includes a 31-game winning streak and back-to-back 6A state championships—shouldn’t continue in 2014.
Though the team will have to replace CB Marlon Humphrey, a 5-star prospect who signed with Alabama, Hoover’s got plenty of talent on defense to makeup for his loss. The MVP of the unit will be DE Christian Bell, one of the top pass-rushing prospects in the 2015 class. The 6’4’’, 220-pound Alabama commit is an explosive edge-rusher who can overwhelm opposing tackles with his quickness.
Another Hoover defender that seems to possess a tremendous radar for tracking down ball-carriers is LB Darrell Williams. The 6’3’’, 226-pound Auburn commit is a 4-star prospect who racked up 61 tackles, including 13 tackles for loss, as a junior in 2013.
On offense, returning starting QB Jack Hutcheson will have plenty of weapons at his disposal. Powerful 6’1’’, 205-pound RB Bradrick Shaw is a 4-star prospect who is being pursued by a number of SEC schools such as Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
6’4’’, 205-pound WR Justin Johnson has also caught the attention of SEC schools such as Mississippi State and Kentucky.
Overall, this is one of the deepest and most balanced teams that Hoover has had in the last decade. Not only will the Buccaneers produce an impressive amount of FBS recruits, they should also extend their winning streak and take home their third straight 6A state title in 2014.
10. Ocean Lakes Dolphins (Virginia Beach, Virginia)
Though teams like Oscar Smith and Centreville will likely receive more publicity this summer, the real team to watch out for in Virginia this fall will be Ocean Lakes.
While the Dolphins may not boast a superstar prospect like Oscar Smith DE Josh Sweat, they do have a ton of highly touted senior recruits on their roster.
The standout is undoubtedly LB Jahvoni Simmons. The 6’1’’, 225-pound 4-star prospect is a highly instinctive, physical and athletic inside ‘backer, who is being chased by big-name schools such as Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Miami, Ohio State and Oregon.
Simmons isn’t the only player on the Dolphins defense that is getting attention. CB T.J. Griffin is a 3-star prospect who has offers from Duke, Oregon, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Safety Jahque Alleyne is a 3-star prospect who is deciding between offers from Kentucky, Oregon, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
Ultimate offensive weapon Jaason Lewis is arguably the most intriguing prospect that Ocean Lakes has. The 6’3’’, 233-pound 4-star prospect can line up all over the field and make an impact. Lewis’ size, versatility, natural athleticism and playmaking ability are the reasons why schools such as Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan and Notre Dame are pursuing him.
Though he’s not as highly regarded as Lewis, WR Quincy Watts is a solid recruit in his own right. The 5’11’’, 165-pound Watts may still be a bit underappreciated at this point in the process, but schools such as Duke, Virginia and West Virginia have all taken notice of his skills.
After putting together a 12-1 campaign in 2013, Ocean Lakes now looks ready to challenge powers such as Oscar Smith and Centerville for a 6A state title in 2014.
- Allen Eagles (Allen, Texas)
- Armwood Hawks (Seffner, Florida)
- Bishop Gorman Gaels (Las Vegas, Nevada)
- Booker T. Washington Tornadoes (Miami, Florida)
- Centreville Wildcats (Clifton, Virginia)
- Hough Huskies (Cornelius, North Carolina)
- Miami Central Rockets (Miami, Florida)
- McEachern Indians (McEachern, Georgia
- Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits (Long Beach, California)
- Servite Friars (Anaheim, California)