Player Focus Breakdowns

CFI goes INSIDE the game and into the film room to break down some of the best players in the Charlotte Metro!

Player Focus: ATH Jamal Worthy - Butler Bulldogs


A couple of years ago I was at a Butler scrimmage and I witnessed this running back just dominating the JV part of the scrimmage. One of the Butler assistants at the time said “that #20 is going to be the future of Butler Football.” Here we are, and the future is now for Jamal Worthy, a Class of 2020 running back that is a sledgehammer of a back but also has some receiving capabilities out of the backfield for the Bulldogs.

When you turn on his highlight film, Worthy is a powerful inside runner, and it’s on a variety of different runs - straight dives from an upback position, the inside zone game from gun, as well as the inside trap/counter game from the wing position as Butler is a very creative offensive team that can move it’s best players around to gain advantages. Worthy rarely goes down on first contact, and has some very impressive runs where he breaks multiple tackles to gain first downs and touchdowns.

However, what makes Worthy special is he has the speed to excel in the outside zone game, and this is a play that Butler runs very well, and Worthy reads his keys for his blockers and landmarks very well, knowing when to press the outside or when to cut inside and take what the defense gives him. Worthy also has some soft hands for a big man in the passing game, catching screen passes from the backfield, as well as a variety of routes out of the backfield vs. man coverage against linebackers especially.

Listed at 6’2 212 pounds, Worthy does have a frame to where he could play another position on the next level if a college projects his future at another spot, however Worthy has done some special things with the ball in his hands so far in his career, and I expect that we will see plenty more this upcoming season!

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Player Focus: QB Russell Tabor - Charlotte Country Day Buccaneers


Charlotte Country Day won the NCISAA Division 2 State Championship last season, and a big part of that playoff run was the play of their quarterback, Class of 2021’s Russell Tabor. Tabor is a good looking player, standing in at 6’3 and 195 pounds and has a strong arm, with the ability to get the ball on the deep outside of the field on out breaking routes, a trait we observed this spring during their spring practices.

When you look at his highlight film, he throws a beautiful deep ball, witnessed several times, both in dropback from the shotgun as well as off play-action in gun as well. On that deep ball, he excels in the post and seam routes, with his timing of hitting the windows very good - on one post route in particular he fits the ball in a very small window, resulting in a touchdown.

Tabor projects as more of a pro style QB on the next level, however he does have an ability to throw on the run, which was displayed in his film, and throwing with accuracy on the run on top of that. He also can scramble for yardage when under pressure and knows how to get down and protect himself as well.

Of course, he has shown the ability to make plays under pressure, delivering the game winning TD pass on 4th and 19 in the State Championship game, stay until the end on his highlight film to catch that moment. I expect Russell to catapult his career even more off of the success he had last season!

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Player Focus: RB Donye Fuller - Shelby Golden Lions


When you think of the Shelby Golden Lions, you think about dominance and state championships, year in and year out. A big part of their latest championship team was their running back, Class of 2020 running back Donye Fuller. Last season, he rushed for over 1000 yards and 15 touchdowns in a pass-first offense, so that makes those numbers even the more impressive!

When you look at Fuller’s highlight film, there is a lot to like immediately. With a 5’10 185 foot frame already, he has room to grow and a good size as a base. On his first run on the highlight, he takes an inside zone untouched for a touchdown - great vision and decisiveness when hitting the hole are two of his big strengths for sure. On the next highlight, he shows he can catch out of the backfield, taking a simple angle route from the backfield and catching an easy TD when they caught the defense in a Cover 2 look.

In the next highlight, he splits out wide and runs a drag route vs. man coverage and catches it for a touchdown, as he runs away from his defender. Someone that has that ability as a runner and a catcher is a rare breed in high school. The other ability I like a lot is that you don’t see him go down on first contact ever. He will run through arm tackles and shrug off a solo tackle with regularity.

However, don’t let that fool you because he also does show some ability to make people miss, especially in the open field with a little jabstep juke move that keeps him moving forward without losing much speed at all. Overall, this is a player that can be very good in whatever kind of offense you would want him to play in. Very good film, was a pleasure to watch!

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Player Focus: ATH Tazhaun Davis - Ben L Smith Golden Eagles


Tazhaun Davis is a 6’4 207 pound athlete that plays both Defensive End and Wide Receiver for Ben L. Smith High School out of Greensboro, NC. Davis has strengths on both sides of the ball, and with his size and frame, he projects to grow very well on the next level!

At Defensive End, Tazhaun is a very talented edge rusher, displaying a very good rip move coming off the ball and excels at only giving an OT half the body to try and block, which is a very good trait for an edge rusher to possess. He also has a very quick spin move he uses when a tackle tries to overset to the outside to compensate for his speed rush around the edge.

At the Wide Receiver position, Davis usually lines up on the outside and can run a variety of routes from that position. The first WR highlight in his film, he takes a simple quick screen, makes the corner miss that was unblocked, and sprints 50 yards for a TD, outrunning the rest of the defense. He also runs a variety of in-breaking and out-breaking routes, catching the ball well and always gaining yardage after contact.

Tazhaun is a 2020 recruit, so I think he will improve on this film even more with an expanded role this season and is definitely an under the radar player at this time given the potential displayed on his highlights. Coaches should jump on this young man while the word is not completely out just yet!

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Player Focus: LB Solomon Sutton - Vance Cougars

Vance Cougars LB Solomon Sutton

Vance Cougars LB Solomon Sutton

The Vance Cougars defense last season was an integral part of a very talented team making a run all the way to the 4AA State Championship, and LB Solomon Sutton is an integral part of this defense. Sutton was named the Defensive Player Of The Game for his team in that title game we just mentioned, and it was well deserved - in watching him that night he was all over the field and the reason why a great Wake Forest team was held to one touchdown.

Sutton currently holds an offer from NC Central University, and I would not be surprised to see more of them come his way. He’s a very good leader on his team, has a great personality off the field, and plays with an edge on the field that gives you a reason to watch him on every play, because you feel like he can make a play at any level of the defense.

Taking a look at his highlight film, there are a lot of things Solomon does well! Setting the edge as a walkup rush LB or playing from depth at LB he is top notch at - he does not let people get outside when assigned that responsibility. Flowing to the ball on outside runs is very good, he chases down plays from opposite his position several times in film. Blitzing from depth or pass rush from the end position he is relentless - his first highlight is a QB Sack where he goes virtually untouched.

I expect Solomon to have another great season as this will be his senior year, and I would expect some more colleges to realize what I have come to realize - they need this young man on their roster after his high school career is over. A pleasure to watch this young man play football.

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Player Focus: QB Silas Cruse - West Charlotte Lions

West Charlotte Lions QB Silas Cruse

West Charlotte Lions QB Silas Cruse

QB Silas Cruse has all the size and arm talent you want in a big time QB - he’s 6’6 230 pounds, and in observing him at the Washington Elite Athletics camp, you can’t but help get excited at the potential of this young man at the next level. Cruse throws a beautiful deep ball with touch on a consistent basis, and that was impressive in this camp setting with a lot of receivers he has not ever worked with.

I also observed Silas at a recent 7 on 7 tournament, and despite his size, he can maneuver pretty well within the pocket as a pro-style QB. West Charlotte is changing their offense a bit this year, and in this setting they had Cruse executing some play fakes and rollouts pretty well in that setting. He also displayed good timing and accuracy on his throws with his receiving core as well.

Looking at his film, Silas made a good number of accurate throws on the move last season, and a number of those came off of playaction, with pressure coming down on him. He has an ability to make good moves in the pocket and keep his eyes downfield and deliver a catch-able ball to keep the chains moving. He is very accurate on in breaking routes like the slant and post, and also looks very good on reading flood concepts and taking what the defense gives him.

West Charlotte has some athletic talent at the skill positions, and I am excited to see Silas in the offense they have displayed so far in the preseason. Just on size and his film alone, I would expect Cruse to be on a college roster after his high school career is over. Good, strong QB who should have a good season.

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Player Focus: WR Michai Riley - Vance Cougars

Riley makes a nice catch at WEA Camp

Riley makes a nice catch at WEA Camp

We observed WR Michai Riley of Vance at the Washington Elite Athletics camp recently held at West Charlotte. Michai projects as a slot receiver on the next level, and there are several things we love about his game.

First off, Michai has the right mental makeup to be in the slot. He has a fearless attitude and attacks the football when he catches it. His releases off the line illustrate an intelligent player who has been coached well to sell a route really well. One of my favorite routes he runs is what I call a stutter post - and on his highlights he gets open on a regular basis on that route.

Looking at his highlights from last season, Michai is a valuable WR as he has ability to play on the outside as well. He ran a large variety of routes last season - quick screens, out routes, corner routes, spot routes vs. zone, and he did very well with all of them. What really stands out is his run blocking though - there were several pancakes on defensive backs, and his blocks were key in springing several Cougar touchdowns.

Vance has a lot of talent on their team this season, and Riley is definitely one of those talented players. I would expect this Class of 2020 receiver to have a home on a college roster in his future. Very good overall player, who comes from a good family and a good personality off the field as well.

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Player Focus: WR Mikhail Baldwin - North Meck Vikings

Baldwin Working Through Drills at WEA Camp

Baldwin Working Through Drills at WEA Camp

We observed Mikhail Baldwin recently at the Washington Elite Athletics Camp held recently at West Charlotte High School. Baldwin is a Class of 2021 WR who projects as a slot type of player at the next level.

The biggest thing we love about Baldwin is some incredible quickness running his routes. Baldwin has some electric start and stop ability throughout cuts in his routes, equally good in on in breaking and out breaking routes. He is someone that could be really good in the spread running game as well, on jet sweeps or reverse type plays where he gets the ball in his hands while on the move.

Looking at some film from last season, Mikhail does an excellent job of blocking from the slot position in both the run game and in the passing game. North Meck had two Division 1 wide receivers last season in Justin Olson and Da’Qon “Bobo” Stewart and a very good running back in Fabian Duncan, and some of their big plays came off the result of good blocks by Baldwin.

I think there will be more opportunity for Mikhail this coming season, and I anticipate him making some big plays for the Vikings this upcoming season!

Player Focus: WR Julian Gray - Hopewell Titans


Julian Gray is a Class of 2021 WR who flashes some very good playmaking ability from his WR position early in his career. He’s 5’11 175 pounds, and the Titans used him in the slot last season with two other very good WRs on the outside primarily.

The biggest thing that love is his speed - his position coach advised me he runs a blazing 10.5 seconds in the 100 m dash, and that is reflected several times on his film. There were several occasions where Gray took a simple bubble/quick screen from the slot with minimal blocking and made a 20+ yard gain out of it just by making a couple of quick moves and then exploding into space with that blazing speed.

From the slot, he ran some deeper downfield routes like the corner and wheel routes and made some plays with a good release off the line, and then just simply beating his man as he usually faced man coverage in those situations. There were a couple of times he made plays on the outside, out jumping a DB in single coverage in the end zone for a TD, and also displays good blocking technique on running plays.

Any player with the speed Julian has is a natural threat on special teams, and Gray has a couple of nice kick return highlights in his package as well. I believe as Julian grows more into his junior season, he will create even more big plays in the Titans offense as opportunities grow. For schools, this is a great time to get in and show some loyalty before everyone comes knocking on this young man’s door. A playmaker that is ready to bust on the scene for sure.

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Player Focus: QB Darius Ocean - Hough Huskies


When I went to the Carolina Xposure Camp earlier this year, I knew a little about Darius Ocean - played very well for Cleveland HS in Clayton NC, but Hough Head Coach Matt Jenkins told me he was definitely the real deal. Based on what I saw that day, and watching his highlight film, I’m surprised more people are not all over this young man in recruiting!

Ocean is a left-handed 6’1 195 Class of 2020 prospect that shows versatility in his game. The biggest thing I love about watching his film is pocket presence - he senses pressure at an elite level and gets out, but always looks to make throws down the field first before escaping the pocket to run for yardage.

His ability to throw on the run is very impressive, Ocean shows pinpoint accuracy on his throws on the run and has a very smooth over the top delivery that gets the ball to his receivers almost effortlessly. Darius also runs very well in the scramble game, his film shows several big runs from scrambles and he has good presence on when to slide or when to take on a defender - he has one play where he simply runs over a defensive back for a touchdown - great stuff.

Ocean also is very good in the zone read game, he shows an elite ability of reading the defensive end and makes it happen when keeping the ball, going straight north/south to get yardage and protects the ball well as a ball carrier. He also does a good job on called QB runs, following his blocks well and being a true dual threat QB.

The last thing I’ll say is that both at Carolina Xposure and on film, Ocean makes every throw consistently. He has a beautiful deep ball that drops in over the top and his other throws are made on time and pinpoint accurate with consistency, which is especially difficult to do in a camp setting working with receivers who you don’t have much a rapport with.

HS football fans in the Charlotte Metro Area may not know the name Darius Ocean just yet, but as the season starts in the fall, we will realize how good of a player this young man is.

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Player Focus: DB Reggion Bowman - Vance Cougars


The Vance Cougars defense in the 2018 season was one of the best in the state of North Carolina, and the reason was because they were stellar in all three levels - something you rarely find on the high school level. Looking at Reggion Bowman’s film, he excelled in two positions - safety from some 2 high looks, and then rolling down to the slot nickel position.

Bowman is 5’9 175 pounds, and as a Class of 2020 prospect, with a max bench press of 250 pounds shows some impressive core strength. This is reflected especially playing from the slot CB position, as on film he breaks up several plays before they even get started by mauling WRs lined up in front of him, disrupting the offense’s timing and execution.

Bowman shows good technique in man coverage as well, not allowing to be turned by different releases or movements by the WR to create separation, and attacks the football appropriately to make plays to disrupt pass attempts.

Reggion also excels in run support, tackling very well in open space and never allowing to get sucked inside on outside run plays and keeps leverage allowing the rest of the defense to flow from the inside. Bowman also does a good job of shedding blocks in the run game by wide receivers, using hands to read the play and react correctly, then immediately disengages to make the play.

Bowman is definitely a key cog for the Cougars this upcoming season and should continue to be an important player for this Vance defense once again!

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Player Focus: OL/DL Barutti Mazangu - Harding Rams


The first thing I have to say about this Class of 2020 OL/DL prospect is that this is simply a big strong man! Mazangu is listed as 6’1 330 pounds on the Harding roster, and currently holds a 405 bench max and a 545 squat max, with room to get stronger on top of that!

Aside from the good measurables, Barutti also can get it done on both lines of the scrimmage. Starting with offense, on film he shows a major road grading mentality at offensive tackle. Playing in a run first offense, once Mazangu gets his hands on you, it’s pretty much good night. There are several clips where he is driving his opposing defensive linemen or linebacker 5 to 10 yards and playing until the echo of the whistle, which is the kind of nasty you like in a strong OL prospect.

The other part you like is his finishing blocks - there are several ‘pancake’ blocks on this film and it shows a pride that Mazangu has in not letting his man have a thought of beating him off the line of scrimmage. Barutti also shows some ability to get out and lead on pull blocks on film, leading the way for a couple of rushing touchdowns.

Defensively he is a strong 1 gap player who projects as a nose guard. He is tough to move at the line of scrimmage and does a good job of keeping interior linemen from getting to the 2nd level in the run game.

Overall this is a strong young man that can help someone on the next level for sure, and linemen are always in need. This is a good one.

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Player Focus: DE Kaseem Vauls - Vance Cougars


The Vance Cougars were one of the best teams in Charlotte last year, making it all the way to the 4AA State Title game, and they had a number of players who were impact players. Kaseem Vauls may not be a name you know, but this Class of 2021 DL prospect has a film that is very impressive.

I’ve seen Kaseem grow from his freshman year playing JV football, and to say his development has been fast would be a major understatement. The first thing that stands out to me is the fact he is just a relentless pass rusher. He gets off the ball extremely fast, which allows him leverage to really get into an OL and use his hands to gain advantages in getting to the QB.

Vauls works a couple of good moves off of that quick step, I’ve personally seen him use the speed rush, an inside rip move, and a spin move that is a great counter when an OL tries to overset outside, worried about his speed rush. His frame at 6’1 and 235 gives him room to still grow with two more years before the next level, and running a 4.6-4.7 40 already is a major plus, and could give him options to play in space down the road as well.

Kaseem also plays well against the run, in his film he plays inside at DT and going against bigger guards and centers, he holds the point of attack well, sheds blocks, and finds the ball carrier and tackles well. On getting to the QB, Kaseem does a great job in going for the strip sack, forcing turnovers for his team multiple times on film, as well as bringing some big hits to the QB.

Vauls has done well on the camp circuit already, earning some Top 5 awards at various camps. I would expect some schools to start taking notice of this talented prospect on a very good team who is bringing a lot of talent back this season to make another run at a state title. Very good player with a bright future right here.

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Player Focus: DB J'Trell Washington - Mallard Creek


Watching J’Trell’s film was truly a pleasure. He was a 2018 All Conference I-Meck Player last season, and as a Class of 2020 player, you could see him as a safety, a corner, or even an outside linebacker in sub packages with his physical tools and frame.

The biggest thing that stands out about Washington is his physicality. This kid loves to hit - and tackles well in space, on the perimeter and inside the box. He really flows and pursues well from the safety position especially. There was one play in particular on his film he chases down a legit D1 player and saves what would have been a touchdown 99% of the time. Great competitor.

He has very good speed, and his coverage skills are good, he reacts well to routes that are breaking inside and outside well, taking the proper read steps in coverage and reacting to the ball well and meeting the receiver when the ball arrives in great position - this is demonstrated well against a very good team on his film when he goes up and breaks up what would have been a touchdown pass.

J’Trell also gets it done in the classroom with a 1300 SAT score, and works hard in the weight room with a 285 bench press and a 460 squat on a 5’11 165 pound frame, which is some very impressive strength. This is a player that should be playing on Saturdays as the next step after high school for sure.

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Player Focus: DB Donovan Woods - East Meck


Taking a look at this Class of 2021 Defensive Back, Woods is a player that you can tell truly loves the game. The biggest thing that stands out to me is that on his film he makes several touchdown saving tackles, showing relentless pursuit and fight to make teams earn every yard.

Speaking of tackling, that is Woods biggest strength from his safety position, as well as his corner position. He does a very good job of squaring up offensive players and not falling for jukes, tackling the core of the body and getting them on the ground quickly. At corner he plays well off of blocks to make tackles on the edge of the defense.

Another thing I like about Woods is the plays he makes on special teams, on his highlight tape there are at least 3 solo tackles that I see from Woods that helped keep his opponents from getting much better field position, or possibly even scoring a touchdown.

Overall I think Woods is a young player progressing well with his best football ahead of him. I expect him to be a leader in the Eagles secondary over the next two years!

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Player Focus: MLB Wesley Blount - Mallard Creek


Mallard Creek is not only a state power, but a Southeastern Regional Power in the United States. So you may be surprised that they have players that are a bit of an unknown, but middle linebacker Wesley Blount is a name that I’m sure you will get used to hearing a lot this upcoming season!

Blount has a good stocky size/frame for the MLB position, and the first thing that stands out to me on his film is the way he reads and diagnoses plays - one of the things that’s hard to teach at the LB position is to trust your eyes, and to close any open windows immediately. This is something Wesley does very well - many run plays are shut down by his football IQ, which matches his 3.5 GPA in the classroom!

There are times where the Mavericks asked Wesley to blitz from depth, and this is something he did well also, bringing down the QB a few times when this occurred. Blount also stood out on special teams, which is a huge deal in the eyes of coaches - he made at least 4 seperate solo tackles on special teams in his highlight film, which is a great way to get on the field early at the next level.

Briefly speaking with Wesley, I am impressed by the way he carries himself and can see why he is a middle linebacker on a talented team like the Mavericks possess. I’m confident he will be a big key into another successful season for Mallard Creek.

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Player Focus: OLB/DE SirAllen Stokes - East Meck Eagles


The East Meck Eagles had a tough season last year, but every team in the Charlotte Metro has players that can ball, and Mr. Stokes stands out in his highlight film for sure.

SirAllen plays outside linebacker and defensive end in this film, and one of his strengths in my opinion is his ability to shed blocks and make plays on the line of scrimmage. Against a number of teams, you see Stokes shed blocks and make solo tackles in the backfield, an ability coaches love to see from a defensive linemen.

When playing at outside linebacker, Stokes does a very good job of flowing to the ball, no matter if the play is right at him or if it’s going away. He shows a good ability to make solo tackles in space, as well as a never relenting pursuit of the ball, notably chasing down a play that could have been a touchdown in his film.

It will be fun to see what SirAllen and the Eagles do this season, and we expect them to have a better year with him as one of the leaders of that East Meck Defense.

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Player Focus: QB Gavin Kuld - High Point Christian Academy


QB Gavin Kuld is a big, strong pocket type of QB when you get a first look at him. A Class of 2021 prospect, his best football is ahead of him as he was named MVP at the Charlotte VTO Elite 100 Camp.

Looking at the tape, Gavin has a very strong pocket presence for such a young QB. Even when pressure surrounds him, he hangs in and makes the tough throws, especially over the middle and to the flats well.

Gavin shows excellent touch on the red zone fade ball already at a young age, a skill it takes even seasoned QBs a long time to perfect. Even though you could say he’s a pocket QB, his tape shows ability to escape the pocket and make throws outside of the pocket as well.

You will start to see this young man get some attention now with the way he has been performing this offseason. He has the prototypical size and arm strength that big time colleges love, and you will continue to see him blossom over these next two years.

Coaches would be advised to get on Gavin now before everyone else discovers the secret.

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