Greetings again, sports fans.
So, always looking for new ideas, my buddy JP suggested this idea: a State of Florida FBS All-State team. And, since I liked the idea, here we are today.
Just like any HSFB All-State team, I tried to scour the landscape to put together the best collection of talent based upon prior production. That means there will be no freshmen on this list as of today. That could change in the course of the 2017 should any freshmen prove themselves worthy, but in the preseason, this is about the guys who have been on campus, and played in games.
With no further ado, here’s the initial 2017 State of Florida FBS All-State Team.
QB: Quinton Flowers, USF
One of the top dual-threat spread QBs in America, Flowers easily gets the nod here. In 2016, Flowers was dynamic for the Bulls. He threw for more than 2800 yards with a 24/7 TD/INT ratio on 61% completions. Not only that, Flowers ran for 1530 yards and 18 TDs as well. With more than 4300 yards of Total Offense, Flowers was a top-10 player in that category nationally. So yeah, he’s pretty good, and the easy pick at QB.
Others: Diondre Francois (FSU), whoever Miami or UF starts at QB, Deandre Johnson (FAU)
RBs: Mark Walton, Miami and Jordan Scarlett, Florida
Mark Walton is the best returning back in the ACC and a top 15 back nationally, so this was an easy choice for RB1. The choice for RB2 wan’t as clear, but in the end, Scarlett gets the nod over Jacques Patrick (FSU) and Devin Singletary (FAU). While I fully expect Walton to remain atop this list throughout the 2017 season, I also expect Scarlett to be surpassed by another player.
Others: Travis Homer (Miami), Cam Akers (FSU)
WRs: Ahmmon Richards, Miami, and Antonio Callaway, Florida
Another skill position with Miami and Florida splitting the 2 spots. But, unlike RB, this one was an easy call. Richards was a Freshman All-American and broke Michael Irvin’s school record for yards receiving as a Freshman. Callaway continued his strong play — despite UF playing a host of terrible QBs — and increased his yardage as a sophomore. These 2 are the class of the WR position in-state, by far.
Others: Nayquan Murray (FSU), Lawrence Cager (Miami), Kalib Woods (FAU)
TE: Christopher Herndon IV, Miami
Yes, he took a backseat to 1st round NFL Draft Pick David Njoku, but Herndon is a top tier player at the TE position. He’s got size at 6’4” 252lbs, good hands, and can be used in a number of ways. Even as TE2 in terms of receiving, Herndon had 28 catches for 334 yards an 2 TDs. He’s got size, talent, and skill, and will be the next Miami Tight End drafted into the NFL.
Others: Ryan Izzo (FSU), and....?
UTIL: Juwon Hamilton, UCF
He runs inside. He runs outside. He runs jet sweeps. He catches screens. He catches passes as a receiver. In short, Juwon Hamilton is fast, and UCF uses him in a number of different ways. Any All-State team needs an offensive weapon such as this.
Other: (to be determined)
OL: Martez Ivey (Florida), Landon Dickerson (FSU), Kc McDermott (Miami), Jawaan Taylor (Florida), Tyler Gauthier (Miami)
I could have broken this up into individual player slots, but why? The returning OL talent in-state this year isn’t the greatest, so we have a hodgepodge line. Dickerson is clearly FSU’s best lineman, Ivey and Taylor are a very good tandem for Florida, and McDermott and Gauthier both showed signs of improvement and steady play down the stretch for Miami. This is the main position where I wouldn’t be surprised for new players, and freshman, to make an appearance as the season wears on.
DE: Josh Sweat, Florida State, and Joe Jackson, Miami
Here is where I know I’m going to get pushback, but I don’t care. Sweat is the best DE in-state, and a top 10 player at his position nationally. Jackson was a freshman All-American, and took huge strides as the season went along.
I know UF fans are going to advocate for CeCe Jefferson, and they have a point. I know that FSU fans are going to gripe about me picking Jackson over Brian Burns, who himself was freshman All-American and had 1 more sack than Jackson, and they have point.
But you see who I picked, and I’m sticking with it. This may be the position with the highest amount of competition for 1st team slots, because Miami, Florida, and Florida State are all loaded at DE.
Others: CeCe Jefferson (Florida), Brian Burns (FSU), Chad Thomas (Miami)
DT: Derrick Nnadi, Florida State, and Kendrick Norton, Miami
While I would go with RJ McIntosh at this spot, Norton has received much more publicity from outside observers. As such, he gets this spot. Nnadi is simply a very good player on the interior, and easily gets his spot, as well.
Others: RJ McIntosh (Miami), Jabari Zuniga (Florida)
LB: Shaq Quarterman, Miami, Matthew Thomas, Florida State, and Shaquem Griffiin, UCF
Quarterman was Miami’s starting MLB from day 1 and a Freshman All-American. Matthew Thomas finally began to realize his 5-star potential after years of inconsistency and injuries. He is a prototypical OLB and showed it over the course of the 2016 season. Griffin was UCF’s best defensive player and the AAC defensive player of the year. With 92 tackles and 11.5 sacks, Griffin was one of the most productive players at his position in America.
And, if you’re building a hypothetical team to play on a field, you have 2 rangy OLBs who can rush the passer, and an instinctive and strong MLB to make the calls and adjustments, while providing great run support and zone pass coverage. Yeah, that’ll work.
CB: Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State, and Dee Delaney, Miami
McFadden was the co-national leader in interceptions in 2016 with 8. He’s tall (6’3”) with great length and good speed. He’s everything you want in a cornerback, and continues to develop. So yeah, easy pick.
The pick of Delany at CB2 in this group is going to raise eyebrows, but he comes to Miami as a grad transfer with a wealth of accolades. A 2-time FCS All-American, the former Citadel star played well vs FBS opponents when they were on the schedule. Delaney was 2nd in FCS with 6 interceptions in 2016, and had 5 picks in 2015. Additionally, Delaney got a mid-round NFL Draft grade after the 2016 season, but instead decided to come to Miami to build his stock even further. Without having played a down at Miami, he gets the nod at this spot for me.
Others: Malek Young (Miami), Carlos Becker (FSU), A.J. Westbrook (FSU), Chauncey Gardner (Florida)
Nickel: Duke Dawson, Florida
Dawson has size and skill and could easily have been a pick for one of the CB spot. But he excelled as Florida’s CB3 behind NFL draft picks Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor in the past. So, he’s the pick here at Nickel, and the State of Florida All-State team has a TOUGH secondary for any team to crack.
Others: Any non-starting CB, or any CB listed in the “other” section above.
S: Derwin James, Florida State, and Jaquan Johnson, Miami
Derwin James is going to be a top 10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He’s built like a sculpture of a Greek God. Some are even championing him as a Heisman candidate in 2017. I mean, what else is there to say?
Jaquan Johnson is Miami’s best S, and has developed behind several NFL draft picks over his first 2 years in Coral Gables. He’s shorter than you’d prefer at this position, but he makes up for it with good physicality and great instincts.
Others: Nick Washington (Florida), Trey Marshall (FSU)
K: Michael Badgley, Miami
All-ACC Kicker. One of the best in Miami History. Great accuracy and ever-improving leg strength. Easy pick.
Others: Eddy Pineiro (Florida), Ricky Aguayo (FSU), Greg Joseph (FAU), Emilio Nadelman (USF), Matthew Wright (UCF)
P: Johnny Townsend, Florida
1st team All-American who averaged nearly 48 yards per punt.
Others: Jack Spicer (Miami), Zach Feagles (Miami), Jonathan Hernandez (USF), Logan Tyler (FSU)
KR: Kerrith White Jr, FAU
4th Nationally with more than 1000 yards in Kickoff Returns in 2016, with a near 26 yards per return average. Not bad at all.
Others: anybody who returns kicks
PR: Antonio Callaway, Florida
More than 400 yards on PR as a freshman and nearly 250 yards as a sophomore.
Others: Braxton Berrios (Miami), anybody else who returns punts
So, that’s it. The pre-season 2017 State of Florida FBS All-State Team.
Agree with it? Hate me because I left off (insert player here)? Let me know in the comments below.