football Edit

Three-Point Stance: LJ McCray, Florida programs, Miami-area rivals

LJ McCray
LJ McCray (

Heading into the weekend, national recruiting analyst John Garcia Jr. looks at storylines from the Sunshine State. Garcia addresses a major commitment on deck from LJ McCray, the recruiting history of Florida's "Big Three" and five prospects to watch in the Miami-Dade high school game of the year.


MORE: Biggest Big 12 questions | Biggest Big Ten questions | Biggest SEC questions | Biggest ACC questions


RECRUITING RUMOR MILL: Reactions roll in from big visits

FINAL 2023 TEAM RANKINGS: Comprehensive (overall) ranking | High school/JUCO ranking | Transfer portal ranking

CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2026 RANKINGS: Rivals100


1. LJ McCray sets his commitment date.


Rivals250 defensive lineman LJ McCray will come off the board on Oct. 21, a few days after he turns 18. In-state programs Florida, Florida State and Miami are all in the mix, alongside Georgia and Auburn. At last check, McCray told Rivals he had no idea how one program would separate from the other four in this race, but he has clearly taken the next step.

Florida is the program he has visited most frequently and the coaching staff under Billy Napier appears most confident, though ruling out Georgia for any elite defensive player would not be advised. Florida State got the last visit out of McCray and he admitted it was better than expected, but could the program have closed that much ground? That remains to be seen but there are no more trips planned between the time in Tallahassee and an official decision.

McCray offers a unique skill set regardless of where he lands, as he was once billed as a two-way athlete who is tall and relatively lean athlete and will work on the edge of the offense or the defense. Now, McCray is above 270 pounds and looks like an eventual force on the interior of a college defensive front, where he may be too quick for guards yet too powerful for tackle types. Still developing from a technical perspective, the best package McCray will present should be down the line on Saturdays - and perhaps beyond.


2. Can Florida, Florida State and Miami all finish in the top 10 of the team rankings?

Ny Carr
Ny Carr

The battle for McCray is a snapshot of how tight it can be between the three powers in the Sunshine State, and the 2024 cycle may be among the toughest to separate between the trio for some time. Currently, Florida sits at No. 3, FSU at No. 7 and Miami at No. 12 in the rankings, which means each has a realistic window to aim for a top 10 slot. In the ebb and flow era of coaching changes, the transfer portal and now NIL, it could be a historic haul across the state (and UCF is on the bring of the top 25, too) when the signing day dust settles.

How rare would each finishing in the top 10 be? It hasn't happened in more than a decade, with the last time the trio hit the mark being in the class of 2012 with names like Jameis Winston, Dante Fowler and Tracy Howard leading each top 10 haul.

Now, the Hurricanes could be one big fish away from repeating history. It just moved up the ranks in landing Rivals100 wide receiver Ny Carr, and of course it continues to push for the flip of Jeremiah Smith at the position - a move that would certainly push the program up to top 10 status. Florida and Florida State, barring some key defections, look poised to remain in the thick of the top 10 rankings through the Early Signing Period.

As if the next two months need any more storylines.





3. Five prospects to watch in Miami-area clash between Norland and Central.

Armondo Blount
Armondo Blount

Likely the top two teams in ever-rich Miami-Dade County this year, undefeated Miami Norland is set to take on Miami Central on Friday and there are more than bragging rights on the line. NHS has been a juggernaut so far this fall and Central remains supremely talented, with its two losses coming to top 10 national programs Las Vegas Bishop Gorman and Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna by a combined seven points. Here are five prospects to watch:

Armondo Blount, SDE, Central. The top class of 2025 recruit in the Miami area has lived up to the hype this fall, registering not one but two six-sack performances (not a typo) to this point. He can work inside and out and win with power and twitch or a combination of the two, getting blockers off balance. A matchup between he and Norland offensive tackle and Rutgers commitment Raynor Andrews should be fun to watch if the duo matches up. Blount recently committed to local Miami.

Ennio Yapoor, QB, Norland. The junior has lit up defenses in South Florida since he was in eighth grade, but he has done it with relative ease in 2023. A confident thrower unafraid to push the ball down the field, the three-star is just as adept at running the rock with power and elusiveness to keep defenses on their toes. This could be the most talented defense he has faced this year, but it would be unwise not to expect plenty of production out of him anyway.

Lawayne Mccoy, WR, Central. The most talented two-way prospect on the field will be the Florida State commitment who flashes dominance as a defensive back despite preferring to catch passes on offense Friday nights. The dynamic athlete simply makes plays no matter where he lines up, and on both sides of the ball he'll be facing Power Five- type competition. The more we see McCoy work, the less settled we feel about him sitting outside of the Rivals100, even though he's just 21 spots away.

Jade Card, ATH, Norland. Another two-way talent who prefers to play offense, the big junior has come into his own as a reliable pass catcher for Yapoor, even though he may have a higher ceiling as a secondary prospect at the next level. Card will also work special teams, where Rivals has seen him lay some lumber this fall, so the combination of his 6-foot-3 frame, overall athleticism and endurance will be fascinating to watch as it plays out.

JC Evans, QB, Central. There are droves of prospects ranked higher than Evans set to battle in this one, but the big dual-threat quarterback has taken the reins of an offense that once featured a three-way QB battle in camp. It wouldn't be surprising to see a bit of a QB duel between he and Yapoor become the storyline of this game when all is said and done. Evans, who just committed to Jacksonville State, has plenty to prove on Friday night.