High School football’s best in 2021 are many of the names you know, but there are under the radar players Central Florida residents should write down as players they should go see this fall.
By Brian Smith @fbscout_florida
Some players are obvious. If you follow Polk County football, for instance, then you know about all-around athlete Sam McCall from Lake Gibson High School. Same with his teammates, safety Jy’vonte McClendon, athlete Cormani McClain (2023) and running back Jaylon Glover. They’ve earned it and are being recruited heavily by numerous college programs.
What about the really good players that do not receive the attention they deserve? Those on the cusp players that make plays that few really know about the way they should will receive notoriety today.
Keep in mind, this list has players that are being recruited, yes, but that does not mean they receive the full attention they deserve. All these young men can really play football!
Jeremiah Simms, RB/ATH, 5-11, 180, Orlando (Evans) – 2022
Now that former NFL player Kennard Lang has come home to his high school alma mater, players like Simms will gain more attention. It’s a great thing. Coach Lang will be inheriting a dynamic skill-position athlete that could line up at several different positions.
As a runner, the first thing that stands out about Simms would be his balance. Even shots to his lower legs oftentimes fail to bring down this motivated talent. Simms bounces off would be tacklers time and again, and just keeps on trucking.
When he’s not breaking tackles, he’s making a defender miss in space. That’s where Simms’ versatility comes into play. Will Coach Lang and his staff utilize Simms more in the slot? Perhaps he will line up outside and play some wide receiver.
Regardless, Evans has a player that’s capable of scoring from many positions on the gridiron, and Simms will turn some heads this next fall.
Zane Durant, OLB/DE, 6-1 ½, 252, Orlando (Lake Nona) – 2022
Perhaps the most unique player in the greater Central Florida area would be Durant. While he’s gained some notoriety, it’s not nearly enough. He’s a bull in the china shop. Always on full tilt, Durant plays fast and downhill. He’s a pursuit player that understands finesse when necessary, but he’s also best noted for his sheer power at the point of attack.
Durant is an all-around athlete; do not be surprised if you see him line up in the backfield or at H-Back near the goal line and catch a swing pass. Yes, he’s capable of playing on both sides of the football. Durant is that athletic and versatile. Besides, how many 180-pound cornerbacks want to get in front of him once he tucks the football under his arm? Good luck.
Jordan Phillips, DT, 6-3, 295, Orlando (Ocoee) – 2022
Finally starting to get his name out, this interior destroyer can split a double team and create havoc within the opponent’s backfield. What’s even more impressive about Phillips, he utilizes his hands to thwart would be blockers shooting at his legs and keeps offensive linemen off of him with those same hands.
It’s rare to find interior defensive linemen that can pressure the quarterback. That’s where Phillips comes into play. Whenever it is third down and long, the opposing team better send a double team Phillips direction.
As Phillips develops his technique and understanding even more, he could end up being one of the best class of 2022 players the state of Florida has to offer regardless of position.
Asaad Waseem, WR, 5-10, 163, Apopka (West Orange) – 2023
After seeing this young man play several times, it’s almost mundane to watch him make defenders miss in open space. Those defenders are not just any players either. We are talking about FBS-level players.
Waseem possesses electric quickness in the open field and natural hands that allow him to continually catch the ball away from his body. As a slot wide receiver, he can make a defender look bad very quickly.
This next season, Waseem will play in the same offense with big-time 2022 wide receiver Jayden Gibson, so he’s going to be seeing a lot of single coverage. That’s a difficult task for a high school defensive back. Waseem could put up huge numbers. With two seasons of high school football remaining, Waseem will be one of Central Florida’s most exciting players moving forward.
Quincy Frazier, RB/ATH, 6-1, 205, Apopka
Finally, the Single-Wing is leaving Apopka. The Blue Darters are going to run a spread offense. Frazier will be quite the beneficiary as he’s a powerful player that’s a one-cut-and-go back with the ability to catch the football as well.
Once defenses have to play him in a true man-to-man sense, it will be even more difficult to stop him. Place Frazier in the slot, run a reverse. Same situation, but next time run Frazier on an out-and-up route against single coverage from a linebacker. That’s a mismatch.
Without question, defending Apopka will be much more difficult moving forward. That program has a plethora of athletes that fit the spread offense. Frazier will be a prime beneficiary.