National Signing Day wrap: Nease quarterback Marcus Stokes signs with West Florida
Nease's Marcus Stokes is staying in the Sunshine State for college football after all.
The last unsigned player from the Times-Union's Super 24 list, the Panthers' quarterback signed with Division II West Florida on National Signing Day, committing his college future to a program with a history of success for Northeast Florida passers.
Stokes, who originally committed to Florida during the summer, had his UF scholarship offer withdrawn in November after posting a video to social media that included a racial slur within rap lyrics.
During his junior year, Stokes completed 196 of 333 passes (58.9 percent) for 2,672 yards, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions during Nease's run to the Florida High School Athletic Association Region 1-7A final, earning selection to the Elite 11 national quarterback showcase. This year, he completed 135 of 249 passes for 1,824 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 picks.
West Florida, which competes in the Gulf South Conference, already includes a half-dozen players from the Jacksonville area.
Among West Florida's top signees of the past five years was St. Augustine's Austin Reed, who won a Division II national championship with the Argos and subsequently transferred to Western Kentucky, where he won a passing yardage title.
Fast finishes for Signing Day
Think nothing happens on National Signing Day on the NCAA's revised calendar? Think again.
Even in the days and the hours leading up to National Signing Day, Northeast Florida's recruiting scene was changing rapidly. Some of the late highlights:
The recruiting process hit full speed rapidly for Providence offensive lineman Jacob Gray. The 6-7, 265-pound lineman signed on Wednesday morning with Memphis less than a week after committing to the Tigers.
Palatka defensive back Chavaris Dumas is a prime example of a player who transformed his recruiting fortunes during his senior season. Eight return touchdowns and a playoff berth later, Dumas made Division I football official Wednesday afternoon, signing with Western Kentucky.
After his second All-First Coast season with 47 catches for 775 yards and nine touchdowns, Oakleaf wide receiver Taylor Bradshaw signed with Georgia Southern two weeks after committing to the Eagles.
Union County's Daylyn Diston, another two-way star who helped the Fightin' Tigers to the Class 1A state semifinals, signed with East Carolina. Most often projected as a safety in college, Diston caught 43 passes for 605 yards and four touchdowns, and intercepted nine combined passes over the past two seasons.
Meanwhile, Orange Park wide receiver Brian Green and Ponte Vedra defensive end Layne Swafford accepted preferred walk-on offers at Florida. Swafford had previously been committed to Marshall.
Huge classes at Fletcher, Ponte Vedra
Wednesday was a busy day at the beach.
Among the week's largest Northeast Florida signing classes belonged to Fletcher, which recognized some 20 athletes across sports ranging from football to cross country to beach volleyball.
That list included 11 football players, a group highlighted by Gateway Conference sack leader Matteo Davis. The edge rusher signed with Albany State in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while versatile defensive backs Pop Bullard and C.J. Davis both signed with Campbell.
Senator signees outside football included midfielders Brianna Campos (Florida Memorial) and Sawyer Reynolds (Stetson) from Fletcher's state champion girls soccer squad, as well as beach volleyball's Traci Schrock to UNC-Wilmington and outside shooter Juan Bruce to Southern Maine for basketball.
In St. Johns County, meanwhile, Ponte Vedra signed a similarly large class that stretched nearly across the length of the Shark Tank, ranging from baseball to football and beyond.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: National Signing Day 2023: Nease's Marcus Stokes signs with West Florida