How County’s former football stars fared in 2021

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Few places allow a youngster with Division I dreams to find a path to success in their own backyard – the Sunshine State is one of them.

South Florida is a known gold mine for Football Bowl Subdivision schools across the country.

The small towns of Belle Glade and Pahokee alone have turned over 50 players into pros. Yes. Enough to field an entire NFL team.

From the PBC to the NFL: ‘Always looking for more’: Former Benjamin star Kaiir Elam declares for NFL Draft

More preparations: Atlantic standout kicker Robert Hammond III trades to Cardinal Gibbons

But which Palm Beach County players are flaunting numbers in college, hoping their name will be mentioned in the same conversations as Anquan Boldin or Lamar Jackson?

Find out where some of the region’s best recruiting class of 2018 are so far now that the 2021 season is over.

Class of 2018

QB Jordan Travis, Florida State

High school: Benjamin

Recruitment Note: Three stars

The 2017 FHSAA 3A Player of the Year career began in Louisville – where he pitched with a 28.6 completion rate. After transferring his second year, Travis would eventually become the Seminoles’ starting quarterback.

Now, Travis is the only FSU quarterback to go four straight games with at least one rushing touchdown and one passing touchdown, ranking fifth in rushing yards and holding the two longest carries per quarterback- back of the program’s history.

In 2021, Travis completed 62.9% of passes for 1,539 yards — 75 long — and 15 touchdowns to six interceptions. On the run, Travis recorded 530 yards – long 53 – and seven touchdowns.

DL Jason Mercier, Florida International

High school: Atlantic

Evaluation: Three stars

The Boynton Beach native is making a difference close to home.

In 2021, Mercier appeared in nine games and had 22 tackles – 1.5 for loss – one sack, three rushes and two pass breakups. Since taking the field for the Panthers for the first time as a freshman, Mercier has had 65 tackles — 36 solo and 6.5 for losses — two sacks and a fumble recovery.

S Gurvan Hall, State of Utah

High school: Palm Beach Gardens

Evaluation: Four stars

Coming out of high school as the No. 15 safety in the nation, Hall committed to Miami and would go on to appear in 36 games. During his U career, Hall recorded 117 tackles – 62 solo and five for loss – two sacks, seven pass breakups and one interception.

In December, Hall announced he would enter the transfer portal and ultimately decided to take his talents to Utah State for his senior season.

WR AT Perry, Wake Forest

High school: Vista Park

Evaluation: Three stars

Tall and lean at 6-foot-5 and 206 pounds, Perry thrived on offense for the Demon Deacons.

Dominating Wake’s 40-37 victory over Syracuse with three touchdowns, Travis had his breakout season in 2021. The Biletnikoff semifinalist had 71 passes for 1,293 yards – 69 long – and 15 touchdowns in 14 games .

TE Dante Zanders, University of Florida

High school: Boca Raton

Evaluation: Three stars

Zanders chose Florida over a number of Power 5 schools, including Georgia, LSU, Virginia Tech, Arkansas and Kentucky.

Since becoming a Gator, Zanders has had 11 tackles in 38 games, recording a record four games in Florida’s September win over South Florida.

CB Keni-H Lovely, West Michigan

High school: Atlantic

Evaluation: Three stars

Raised in a football family — brothers of 2018 seventh-round pick James and 2012 fourth-round pick Joe Looney — Lovely has taken 67 snaps in 2020 and 2021, most recently recording ten tackles — six solo — and two passes defended in six games.

Class of 2019

CB Kaiir Elam, University of Florida

High school: Benjamin

Evaluation: Four stars

Elam will prepare for the Combine in March after an impressive spell in Gainesville. He was an All-SEC selection his freshman year and his second year heading into the 2021 season.

A Jim Thorpe Award semi-finalist, Elam has made 79 tackles – 52 solo – six interceptions, 26 pass breakups and one fumble recovery during his 35-game career.

CB EJ Jackson, Marshall

High school: Central clearings

Evaluation: Three stars

Out of the Muck, Jackson worked his way up to number one on the depth chart at Marshall.

Prior to 2021, Jackson had 11 tackles in 17 games. In his performance against Navy this season, the highly touted prospect proved his worth with a career-high 12 tackles. Jackson would finish the year with 56 tackles – 38 solo – and one forced fumble.

ATH Mark-Antony Richards, Central Florida

High school: Wellington

Evaluation: Four stars

Richards’ early college career, which began at Auburn, was riddled with injuries that kept him from seeing the field. Richards would stay on for the 2020 season, playing three games as a reserve tailback and leading the Tigers against Alabama with 57 yards on 14 carries.

In December, Richards entered the transfer portal to finally return home to Florida as a Knight in March of last year. At UCF, Richards had one start running back in 11 games and rushed for 309 yards and five touchdowns. Receiving, Richards caught eight passes for 76 yards.

S Antavious Lane, Georgia

High school: Dwyer

Evaluation: Three stars

Lane has presented himself as a force for the Panthers in 2020, posting 55 tackles — 39 solo — one forced fumble, six pass breakups and four interceptions for 76 yards.

The 2020 All-Sun Belt conference second-team selection would improve in 2021, making 60 unassisted tackles for 81 total, one forced fumble, five interceptions for 73 yards and repeating six pass breakups.

BY Mike Morris, Michigan

High school: American Heritage – Delray

Evaluation: Three stars

The Belle Glade native was the only former Palm Beach County prep star to play in the 2021 College Football Semifinals, in which he recorded a tackle and stormed into the loss to Georgia.

In 14 games this season, Morris has filled the stat sheet with 18 tackles — six solo and one for five yards loss — one half sack for three yards, one interception and two passes defended.

TE Kamareon Williams, Florida international

High school: Atlantic

Evaluation: Three stars

Since helping the Atlantic go 10-1 in his senior year, Williams has been a contributor in the FIU South.

Williams’ freshman year was his best yet, getting the go-ahead to start four times and hauling in three catches for 27 yards on the year — his season-high 15-yard reception against UMass for a tight end.

BC Akeem Dent, State of Florida

High school: Palm Beach Center

Evaluation: Four stars

In 2018, Dent’s scouting report read “projects as a multi-year Power 5 starter and a second-day NFL draft pick” and it’s been true ever since.

Breaking a maximum of seven passes in the ACC by a true freshman and adding 35 tackles, Dent grew through his sophomore year to complete his true breakout season in 2021.

Most recently, 247Sports’ No. 50 prospect in the nation for the 2019 class had 44 tackles — 24 solo — one half sack, five pass breakups and one interception.

ILB Daniel Foster, Marshal

High school: Dwyer

Evaluation: Three stars

As a Panther, Foster played at center linebacker and tight end, leading the team to an 11-2 record as a senior.

At Marshall, Foster recorded three tackles as he took the field for the first time as a redshirt rookie in 2020. This season, Foster has appeared in ten games and made six tackles, adding one fumble recovery in four meters.

OG Renato Brown, Louisville

High school: Palm Beach Center

Evaluation: Three stars

Florida’s No. 78 prospect and No. 38 offensive guard in the nation, Brown reversed his commitment to the Cards after initially expressing interest in attending Miami.

Brown is now a redshirt freshman, seeing his first action in 2019 against Notre Dame and having appeared in 26 games since arriving at Kentucky.

DB Gio Richardson, Florida International

High school: Dwyer

Evaluation: Three stars

Richardson signed a dual-threat quarterback with the Panthers and transitioned to defensive back after spending his real freshman season as a redshirt.

Richardson seems to be adapting well to the move, posting 13 tackles – seven solo – and a fumble recovery for four yards.

Class of 2020

WR Bryan Robinson, Marshal

High school: Palm Beach Center

Evaluation: Four stars

Robinson left the Broncos as the nation’s No. 30 wide receiver and Florida’s 26th-best overall prospect, weighing offers from UF, Miami, Pitt, Alabama and Nebraska before finally deciding to s join the FSU.

As a Seminole, Robinson played three games through injury in his freshman year and decided to enter the portal in October after only seeing the field against Louisville in 2021.

Next season, Robinson will get a fresh start in West Virginia.

DB Joshua Pierre-Louis, State of North Carolina

High school: Benjamin

Evaluation: Three stars

The All-State first-team entertainer performed early in Raleigh to become one of three true freshmen to start the Wolfpack defense, totaling 27 tackles — 17 solo — a pass breakup on the season and an interception for 21 yards at Virginia.

In 2021, Pierre-Louis recorded 17 tackles – a season high of five against the Tar Heels – one interception, two quarterback rushes and two passes defended.

DB Jamal Potts, Florida International

High school: American Heritage – Delray

Evaluation: Three stars

Ranked the 98th-best cornerback in the nation upon leaving the Stallions, Potts would go on to play in four of FIU’s 5 games in his true first season and level up in 2021 with 23 tackles — 14 solo — and one pass breakup.

OL Kevin Cline, Boston College

High school: Boca Raton Christian

Evaluation: Two stars

Redshirting his first season, the 2020 Sportsman of the Year saw action for the first time in 2021, appearing against Colgate, Temple, Missouri, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.

Class of 2021

Brim Ashton Gilotte, Louisville

High school: Boca Raton

Evaluation: Three stars

Touting offers from Duke, Florida Atlantic, FIU, Kansas, Maryland, Pitt, USF, Syracuse, Tulane, UCF, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest, Gilotte committed to Louisville in May 2020.

Gilotte made a huge impact in his first campaign with 19 tackles – 15 solo and eight for 34 yards loss – four sacks for a total loss of 23 yards and three quarterback dispatches.

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