Today is the last day of our series on our “Top Fives” to get you ready for next season. We’re less than two weeks away before our Kickoff Classics around the Bay Area, and we couldn’t be more excited. Our list today dives into five players that we think had a great offseason and are going to make waves for their squad in 2016. These guys aren’t household names, but by the end of the season, we think they should be. Remember, we’d love for you to get vocal on our Twitter page if you feel somebody didn’t make the cut.
1. TJ Williams, 2018 RB, Gaither:
He’s impressed the BCP staff over the past summer in our camps, and it’s going to be fantastic to watch this guy evolve into someone who can really become a great player. The projections for him are varying across the board, but I really think this junior can at least run for 1,000 yards, if he stays healthy. Receiving will be good for him as well, as he was solid in that in camps. He earned an Xecutive invite, along with a myriad of other Cowboys this offseason. Gaither will be a team on the rise next year, in a district that is starting to become very contested. Williams’ success will be key for Jason Stokes’ quest for his first playoff spot since 2013.
2. Isaiah Bellamy, 2018 QB, Largo:
There’s been so much improvement with this young QB over the offseason. He’s strong, the arm strength is very good, and he’s going to lead a 6-4 Largo team that we’re unsure about what’s going to happen at a certain positions. He’s got the chance to be a very good playmaker at Largo, if he continues to work at his skills. Bellamy threw for 506 yards last year behind Isaiah Thomas, but that learning experience was good for Bellamy when he will start under center next season. He’s still got Calvin Lockett and Cameron Tisdale on the outside as valuable targets. The biggest thing for Bellamy is that he needs to get out of the pocket and run more. He’s so big and strong, and he can take a hit, but one of the Largo hallmarks is being able to run the football. If he can do that, watch for the Packers to turn heads next season.
3. Dexter Leverette, 2018 RB, Wesley Chapel
This is a guy that Pasco County football fans will need to know about if their team plays Chapel. Leverette tore apart Weeki Wachee in the Spring Game with 282 yards on 15 carries and FIVE rushing touchdowns, according to Derek LaRiviere of the Tampa Bay Times. He transferred in from North Carolina before the Spring Season, and he’s a special back that will now play a key role for Wesley Chapel. He’ll be in a backfield with Jacob Thomas at QB, who’s going to be even better next year. Remember, this is a Wesley Chapel team that put 56 points on Weeki Wachee, Leverette accounting for 35 of those, but if he can do that during the fall, we may see a new face in the playoffs next year.
4. Austin Eldridge, 2018 TE, Plant City
In Eldridge’s first year as a member in a Plant City uniform, he will be dangerous. The rising junior is going to be a big help in Robert Paxia’s first year as Head Coach. There’s a lot of upside in his game, he’s strong, a very good route runner, quick release, he just has a ton of talent, and that’s going to be huge next season. He earned an Xecutive invite this offseason after good work at the Spring E7 Training Camp. Word from Eldridge is that he will be playing a little bit of defensive end in a trend that seems to be catching on around the Bay. There’s a lot of DE/TE combos to get more reps and experience, which could certainly help PC. Eldridge missed the Spring Game due to an eligibility complication after his transfer, but he’s back and ready to go for his first year in a Raider uniform.
5. Brendan Gant, 2019 S, Kathleen
It’s been quite the offseason for the rising sophomore, as he’s already received verbal offers from Arizona, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, and USF, among others. He’s going to be part of a defense that features Tobias Larry and Ventrell Miller (Florida commit) at the linebacker positions, which are going to be two mentors for Gant to lean on. At 6’, 170 lbs., Gant will need to bulk up just a little if he wants to be able to cover tight ends as well as some of the great wide receiver talent in Polk County. He’s a sure tackler, he’s very good in pass coverage against wide receivers, and he can even put up a few blocks if he has to. There’s good stuff with this defensive back, and he should be on his way to becoming a household name in Polk County.