- Corey Long, Reporter, RecruitingNation
Standout performers from spring games featuring Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee and St. Petersburg (Fla.) Gibbs and Lakeland (Fla.) and St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood:
Derrick Calloway, DT, Manatee: The 6-foot-1, 300-pound junior continues to show why he should be in the discussion for best defensive lineman in the state. Calloway has a good first step and solid technique, but what separates him from the pack is his ability to finish the play. He is a dynamic closer and nearly unstoppable on third downs.
Jalen Stevenson, DE/OLB, Lakeland: The 6-0, 205-pound junior lined up at defensive end for Lakeland but he's an outside linebacker at the next level. He raised all kinds of havoc in an easy 34-12 win over Lakewood and got a half-dozen clean shots in on the quarterback. Stevenson showed big-time athleticism when he tipped a pass at the line, intercepted it and returned it for a short touchdown.
Cord Sandberg, QB, Manatee: Sandberg (6-2, 215) only played four series in the 49-6 win over Gibbs, scoring touchdowns on three of them. He threw an interception on the first series, but the pass should have been caught by a receiver. Sandberg was 7-of-11 for 152 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 27 yards on four carries.
Rodney Adams, WR, Lakewood: The Florida commit did a little bit of everything but didn't make the big play. His 84-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter was called back because quarterback Tracy Johnson went over the line of scrimmage. Adams replaced Johnson at quarterback late in the game and did a nice job of running the ball.
Demarcus Christmas, DT, Manatee: The 6-3, 285-pound Christmas will be among the state's best Class of 2014 prospects. A second-year starter, Christmas is becoming more aggressive and learning how to finish plays like Calloway.
Maurice Hall, ATH, Gibbs: Another class of 2014 prospect, Hall should receive plenty of attention because he can do everything well. He lined up at wide receiver, outside linebacker and free safety against Manatee and was very active at all three positions. The 6-1, 185-pound sophomore is a three-sport athlete and a player to watch.
Marquez Valdes, WR, Lakewood: The 6-3, 190-pound receiver looks like a strong sleeper prospect. Valdes had Lakewood's only offensive touchdown -- a 60-yard pass reception. He showed better-than-average speed, good hands and some decent route-running ability.
T.J. Simmons, LB, Lakeland: Simmons has already committed to Western Kentucky but don't be surprised if the 6-1, 220-pound junior receives some serious interest from other programs this summer. Simmons has a solid build for a linebacker and he has the sort of instincts you want from a middle linebacker.
MANATEE: The Hurricanes will have one of the fastest wide receiver tandems in the state with JaJuan Pollock and Anthony Lauro (who also plays running back). Add defensive back Willie Smith and linebacker Marquis Dawsey to the list of Class of 2013 FBS prospects who will start for Manatee's defense this season. Class of 2014 offensive lineman Jake Stickler (6-5, 290) and Class of 2015 quarterback Josh Meyer (6-1, 190) both look like future stars.
LAKELAND: Running back Robert Smith (5-8, 175) rushed for 153 yards and a couple of touchdowns to help Lakeland rally from a 6-0 halftime deficit. The Dreadnaughts used two quarterbacks -- junior Isiah Walker and freshman Aaron Johnson -- and neither stood out. "I was hoping to see some separation but we'll have to wait until training camp, and if neither of them stand out I'll start the season using both of them," Lakeland head coach Bill Castle said.
GIBBS: Class of 2014 prospect Albert Laskett grabbed two interceptions in the spring game against Manatee and showed much of the talent that Gibbs head coach Antonio Knox predicted. Gibbs had several starters sit out with injuries, including running back/quarterback Emmanuel Stewart. "We weren't at full strength but I thought we competed hard against one of the top five teams in the nation," Knox said.
LAKEWOOD: Twins Shaquill Griffin (6-1, 183) and Shaquem Griffin (6-0, 195) are excellent athletes, and Shaquem showed exceptional burst on a kick return late in last Thursday's game. Quarterback Tracy Johnson has been working on his mechanics with former Arena Football League quarterback John Kaleo and he showed improvement until the pressure from Lakeland's defensive line wore him down. Class of 2014 offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn has received plenty of attention, but he struggled against a much smaller defender.
Standout performers from spring games featuring Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee and St. Petersburg (Fla.) Gibbs and Lakeland (Fla.) and St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood:Derrick Calloway, DT, Manatee: The 6-foot-1, 300-pound junior continues to show why he should be in the discussion for best defensive lineman in the state.