Tampa Bay players made up five teams (club division) at Sunday’s IMG 7v7 National Championship, which the Florida Fire won after topping Unsigned Preps 33-20 in the final. These 10 players had a standout day, offering us a big preview for the fall:
Bruce Anderson, Unsigned Preps (Newsome): Who? Yeah, Bruce. Or more like Bruuuuuuuuce after he made a game-sealing interception in Unsigned Preps’ quarterfinal win over top-seeded River City. It wasn’t Anderson’s only great play of the day, but it was the most important. Anderson, playing safety, kept the deep middle well-covered all weekend.
Deon Cain, Unsigned Preps (Tampa Bay Tech): The saddest thing about the end of the 7-on-7 all-star season is it will be the last time we get to see Cain catching passes — until he gets to Clemson in 2015. The Tampa Bay Tech quarterback was his usual spectacular self, making an array of sensational catches and showcasing his athleticism.
TJ Chase, Next Level Nighthawks (Plant City): Next Level lost its first game of the day, but Chase shined in elimination games to keep his team alive. The 2016 wide receiver had a late touchdown to seal the victory in the first elimination game of the afternoon. Later in the day, he scored on the very first play of another before grabbing an interception on the other side and heading back to the end zone for his second TD.
Nate Craig, Unsigned Preps (Tampa Catholic): Craig did what Craig does best — beat defenders over the top, in the middle, on the goal line, using his big body and hands to make a few catches he had no business making. He was also a solid defender when called upon. He might be one of the most intriguing players of the upcoming season, because who doesn’t wonder exactly how Tampa Catholic will use him?
Ryan Davis, Team Tampa (Lakewood): We saw Davis leap over taller defenders for a touchdown, outrun the entire defense on a crossing pattern for a touchdown and beat his defender to the corner for a touchdown. He does so much so well at these 7-on-7 events, and his outstanding hands probably made him the best slot receiver we laid eyes on.
Daquon Green, Unsigned Preps Youth (Tampa Bay Tech): You’ll hear more about him this fall, but the Tech senior caught a last-second touchdown pass from Wiregrass Ranch quarterback Shane Bucenell to win one game, and had touchdowns in a few others. A tall target (6-foot-2), he was able to get open and make the plays at IMG.
Ray Ray McCloud III, Unsigned Preps (Sickles): We all know McCloud the 2,000-yard rusher, but the rising senior shined defensively, too. In a come-from-behind win against fourth-seeded Polk County Dream Team, McCloud came up with a momentum-changing interception before catching a long pass to set up a touchdown. Then, McCloud — who also has college offers at defensive back — guarded Polk County go-to Derwin James on the final play, which resulted in a game-winning defensive stop for Unsigned Preps.
Chris Oladokun, Unsigned Preps (Alonso): We thought all the quarterbacks were pretty good, but none may have been better than Oladokun, who led Unsigned Preps into the final before the team just ran out of gas. Minus a few mistakes late in the day, the Alonso junior was on target and spread the ball around to all of his targets, making things tough on defense.
Auden Tate, Team Tampa (Wharton): Tate, who also played with Team Tampa at last year’s IMG 7v7 National Championship, lost track of how many touchdowns he had as the defending champions marched their way to the semifinal round of the loser’s bracket.
Vonte Williams, Unsigned Preps (Wharton): The rising senior hasn’t played a season of high school football yet, but if these 7-on-7 tournaments are any indication — and for defensive backs we think they are — he will be the find of the 2014 season. Williams had a handful of big interceptions, and has an uncanny knack for covering a lot of ground, often coming from across the field to make a play. If we’re handing out a defensive MVP, we’re giving it to the Wildcat.
Shane Bucenell, Unsigned Preps Youth (Wiregrass Ranch): We couldn’t help but wonder what Bucenell could have done with one of the A teams. He looked really good in the games we saw him play, and he clearly has one of the best arm of any of the local quarterbacks there.
Jacob Mathis, Team Tampa (Berkeley Prep): Mathis showed he isn’t just a big-body receiver. He was able to get open and make some big catches for the defending champs.
Brad Mayes, Team Tampa (Berkeley Prep): He had some bright moments mixed in with some inconsistency, but overall he did what we expected, spreading the ball around and making the big throws.
Marc McCoy, Next Level (Spoto): What TJ Chase didn’t catch, McCoy did. With Terence Williams throwing to him in the fall, it could be a fun season for the Spartans.
Bentlee Sanders, Unsigned Preps (Tampa Catholic): Sanders was money on the short routes and had quite a few scores. When the stars started cramping up down the stretch, it was Sanders (and Isaac Holder) that stepped up for the runners-up.
Terence Williams, Unsigned Preps (Spoto): He showed why North Carolina and North Carolina State have offered, with a few pretty impressive catches and all-around solid play.
Photo: Plant City's TJ Chase