With Florida spring football just around the corner, here’s a first look at some players that fans need to know programs need to replace, as well as some players that can help those programs reload.
By Brian Smith @fbscout_florida
Today is a look at Berkeley Prep and how their offensive skill talent will change with the departure of one player, two key stars returning, and the emergence of a rare talent. First, here’s the player that’s headed to a college football career.
Renaldo Garcia II, WR, 6-1, 180, Tampa (Berkeley Prep)
The Buccaneers will be replacing a key cog in their offense. Garcia II produced 27 receptions, 418 yards, and two touchdowns. Garcia’s ability to be a primary target allowed other Berkeley playmakers such as Xavier Townsend and Travis Bates to have more room to operate, and there’s another young man to discuss as well. Prior to that, Garcia, Townsend and Bates need to be acknowledged and thoroughly discussed.
Townsend and Bates are dynamic players with the ball in their hands, and Garcia helped create space for them with his own talents. Garcia signed with Kansas State, and his skills will be missed. Watch out for Townsend and Bates to be primary playmakers again in 2021. Starting with Townsend, here’s a look at what he brings to the table.
Townsend is as quick as a water bug and the Berkeley Prep coaching staff finds different ways to place the ball in his hands. As a junior, Townsend garnered 715 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. As a receiver, Townsend also produced 13 receptions for 381 yards and seven touchdowns, including a 74 yard score. Think about that: over half of Townsend’s receptions went for touchdowns.
Now that’s dynamic!
Townsend also accumulated 135 yards from kickoff returns and 46 yards from punt returns. He was a central part of the Buccaneers offense in 2020, and Townsend is expected to continue in that role during the 2021 season. Bates is another threat.
A sturdy and consistent running back, Bates carried the football 113 times for 675 yards and five touchdowns. He’s a great complement to Townsend, as he’s capable of pounding teams between the tackles with his 5-11, 195-pound frame. At the same time, one should be leery of Bates sliding by defenders with his quickness; he’s really good at making defenders miss along the second level of a defense.
Whether it is a spin move, a stop and start with his quick feet, Bates finds different ways to avoid would be tacklers. As a receiver, Bates could be a bigger threat moving forward. He caught three passes during his junior season. Look for the Buccaneers to give Bates a few more swing passes and screen plays to utilize his full capabilities. Now, onto arguably the most unique talent in the Tampa area.
There’s never been any disputing the athletic exploits of C.J. Hawkins. Now that he’s playing football, in addition to his talents as a basketball player, the Buccaneers have another national recruit to keep defenses honest.
The 6-7, 220-pound Hawkins has earned offers from the likes of South Carolina, USF, Georgia, Florida State, UCF, Texas, and Ole Miss amongst many offers. This is the case despite catching just two passes and one touchdown during three games of his junior year. So why are teams after him?
Hawkins is a threat to high point the football and make a big play, or as a blocker, punish a defender with his size and strength. Hawkins is truly a special talent and Berkeley Prep will be counting on him even more in 2021. With a full season of football, Hawkins could produce big-time numbers.
As a junior Hawkins produced more blocks than receptions, but catching two passes could easily move towards catching 30 passes. Simply put, not many defenders match up well with this young man.
As Hawkins truly learns the game of football after being a basketball player, look for his growth to be exponential. Now that he’s made a name for himself, Hawkins will undoubtedly be presented with more opportunities to shine. Look, one cannot teach 6-7, 220. Further, one cannot teach his athletic gifts to go into that massive frame.
As Hawkins gains more familiarity with football, keep in mind that this young man is truly a skilled athlete. On the basketball court, Hawkins recently went for 28 points and seven rebounds against Carrollwood Day School. Watch out for Hawkins this next season. He could be the most improved player in the greater Tampa area now that he’s gotten his feet wet on the gridiron.
While Berkeley Prep will lose one of its better offensive skill players with Garcia moving on to Kansas State, the Buccaneers will be just fine this next season. They have plenty of skill talent coming back and will be a fun team to watch in 2021.