The best individual matchups to watch in the Spring Games

From a fan’s perspective, spring games and jamborees can be mixed.

Of course, you can see your favorite team face a real opponent for the first time in six months. But the matches obviously don’t count in the standings and there’s not much value to read in the results.

Most teams spend the spring focused on themselves and not too worried about their opponent, so game plans and matchups aren’t what they’ll look like in the fall.

After:USA Today Top 100: Welcome to the year of the wide receiver

After:Recruitment: Killian LB Stanquan Clark headlines top performers at Gardens jamboree

But there will be times when top rookies line up against each other and those should be a lot of fun to watch.

Here’s a look at some of the best individual games to watch this spring:

Headliners

Edgewater 2023 RB Cedric Baxter Jr. vs. Osceola 2023 DLs John Walker and Derrick LeBlanc (May 19)

Talk about star power. Baxter is the No. 1 ranked running back in the state on the USA Today Florida Network’s top 100. Walker and LeBlanc are the No. 1 and No. 3 inside linemen on the roster, respectively. This match does not require much analysis. Just grab some popcorn, get your camera ready, and enjoy the show.

Lakeland 2023 WR Tyler Williams vs. Venice 2023 DB Elliot Washington (May 19)

They are two of the fastest rising seniors in the state from two of the top programs in the state. The 6-foot-4 Williams (No. 27 in the top 100) recently announced his top 10 schools. Washington (No. 25 in the top 100) is an Alabama commitment and anchors Venice’s talented secondary.

After:Exclusive: 4-Star Lakeland WR Tyler Williams Announces Top 10 Schools

Rockledge 2023 OL Bryce Lovett vs. Jones 2023 EDGE/LB Malik Bryant (May 27)

Lovett (No. 86 in the top 100) announced her Florida engagement on Monday. The 6-foot-6, 330-pounder has good mobility for someone his size and can line up at tackle or guard. Jones (#9) is one of the best linebacker/point rushers in the nation and will play Jones in his first game since leaving IMG.

After:Exclusive: Jones 4-star LB Malik Bryant announces his top 5 schools

Tampa Bay Tech 2025 WR Santonyo Isaac vs. Wharton 2023 DB Dijon Johnson (May 19)

Isaac had a breakout first season in 2021, finishing second in receiving yards on a Titans team that reached the Class 7A state championship game. He has seen his recruitment take off in the past six months. Johnson (No. 18 in the top 100) committed to Ohio State over Easter. He is a physical long defensive back who has good ball skills and can line up at cornerback or safety.

Wiregrass Ranch 2023 WR Bryson Rodgers vs. Berkeley Prep 2025 ATH Dallas Golden

Rodgers (No. 53 in the top 100) also verbally committed to Ohio State over Easter. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound receiver was used both in the slot and out last season, when he caught 42 passes for 645 yards and 17 touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 165-pound Golden has had offers from Florida State, Pitt and others this spring. He’s had 23 tackles, broken four passes and recovered a fumble in 12 games in 2021.

Maybe it will happen…

Vanguard #4 Fred Gaskin makes a pass in the first half.  The Vanguard Knights defeated the West Port Wolfpack 21-0 Friday night September 3, 2021 at West Port High School in Ocala, Florida.  [Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner]2021

Buchholz 2023 ATH Creed Whittemore vs. Vanguard 2024 ATH Fred Gaskin III (May 19)

It will be a fun game to watch. Well, it could be. If this happens. Here’s the thing. Whittemore (No. 88 in the top 100, committed to Florida) will play wide receiver for the Gators, but is now a quarterback. Gaskin, who likely projects as a defensive back in college, also plays quarterback in high school. You never know how meddling coaches will be trying out players — especially quarterbacks — in different positions in the spring. But there’s a chance we’ll see these two line up opposite each other in the spring game.

Other matches to watch

Bartram Trail quarterback Riley Trujillo (12) returns to pass as running back Eric Weatherly (21) runs a route during a high school football preseason kickoff classic on August 20, 2021 . [Clayton Freeman/Florida Times-Union]

Bartram Trail 2024 QB Riley Trujilo vs. Columbia 2023 DB Amare Ferrell (May 20)

Trujilio has half a dozen Power 5 deals; Ferrell is No. 94 on the top 100

Orange Park OT Roderick Kearney vs. Ocoee 2023 EDGE Calvin Smith (May 19)

Kearney is No. 33 on the top 100; Smith has over a dozen Power 5 deals

Nease 2023 QB Marcus Stokes vs. Ed White 2023 DB Davaugn Patterson (May 20)

Stokes (No. 57 in the top 100) committed to Penn State; Patterson commits to Wake Forest

Jesuit 2023 RB Joquez Smith vs Palmetto 2023 DL Andrew Rumph (May 20)

Smith has three Power 5 offerings; Rumph has four Power 5 deals

Bayside 2023 WR Michael Parkes vs Mainland 2024 S Zavier Mincey (May 20)

Parkes is an Iowa State Commitment; Mincey has eight Power 5 deals

Choctawhatchee 2023 WR Jayce Brown vs. Niceville 2023 CB Jayden Sheppard (May 19)

Brown’s offerings include the Air Force and Army; Sheppard has a handful of Power 5 deals