Southeast Spotlight: Five best performances seen this offseason
The offseason is in full swing as the spring camp circuit begins to heat up and college programs expand recruiting boards. With the offseason already having some camps and events under its belt, prospects across the country have risen to national status with more on the way.
Here are the five best Midwest prospects I’ve had the chance to see so far this offseason.
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Playing with South Florida Express, I’ve seen Trader at three different 7-on-7 tournaments, and he has taken over at each of them. Trader has size, speed, quick feet and is as athletic as anyone in the country. Rated as a five-star receiver, Trader also plays in the secondary for SFE, routinely coming up with big picks and pass breakups.
If he concentrated his efforts as a defender, he’d be a five-star on that side of the ball as well. Showing off just how athletic he is, after a big play Trader has been known to fly through the air and do a flip, getting oohs and ahhs from the crowd.
Trader’s recruitment is still wide open, but there are a handful of teams leading the way. Miami, Florida State, Ohio State, Georgia and Florida are each currently in the mix for Trader.
Not just because of his grade classification, David Sanders Jr. has unlimited future potential as an offensive tackle. Blessed with size, quick feet and a massive wingspan, Sanders keeps pockets clean. Adding to that, the class of 2025 prospect is cerebral and understands what a defender is trying to do against him.
As time progresses, Sanders will add more mass and weight to his frame but his current size didn’t hurt him at the Under Armour Next Camp in Georgia, where he dominated.
SEC teams are getting a chance to impress Sanders this spring, with Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee among the programs lining up to host him. Being from North Carolina, the in-state ACC teams North Carolina and NC State will try to make it difficult for any squad to pull him away.
Merritt is another freakish athlete one has to see in person. The more film and in-person scouting done on the Woodward Academy talent, the more one’s appreciation for his skills grows. Merritt is sized as a weakside defensive end, but he can play up and down the line thanks to his burst and power.
Once engaged with an offensive lineman Merritt has multiple secondary moves in the tool belt to rip clean and cause chaos in the backfield.
The 2025 prospect wowed all at the UA camp in Georgia as he earned an invite to the All-America Game. Along the recruiting trail, there is already a rush to land Merritt. He has more than 30 offers; Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and Ohio State have been successful bringing the four-star to campus this offseason.
Rarely, if ever, do centers get any sort of love or attention at football camps. When Zandamela took the field at the Under Armour Next Camp in Orlando he made sure all noticed. The 2024 recruit has a quick and consistent snap and does a great job using his off-hand to slow driving defensive tackles. His pad level and bend are good, and his lateral movement makes it hard for defenders to find a way into the pocket.
Zandamela was another player to punch his ticket to the All-America Game with his performance at a camp. Even before the accolade, offers were being dropped left and right. The new status brought scholarship opportunities from Georgia and Wisconsin, putting the rising three-star at 30 offers.
McCoy’s play during the regular season for Miami Central stood out, and he has not disappointed this offseason from camps to 7-on-7 tournaments. Another talent on this list who could play on either side of the ball at the next level, McCoy showed out at the UA-Orlando camp with his skills at receiver. Play after play, McCoy was sharp on his routes as he burned defenders with his speed.
Recruiting options are still popping up for McCoy. As the spring and summer months continue, expect McCoy to continue to add to his 20-plus offers.