It has been a whirlwind summer for Nease senior quarterback Marcus Stokes, who has been busy going on recruiting visits and various prospect camps across the nation.
Although it was a hectic schedule at times, Stokes continued to not lose sight of what a neat experience it was and how important it was to soak it all up.
He capped the offseason by committing to the University of Florida, and now that he has that decision out of the way he has to turned his full attention to finishing off his senior campaign at Nease on a high note.
Prior to committing to Florida, he had been a Penn State commit, but when the Gators came calling, he knew it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
“Even before I committed to Penn State, I told myself and my parents that if Florida were to come my way, I would take with no regrets,” Stokes said. “Florida has been my dream school ever since I was a little kid, even though back then I only wanted to go there because the colors were cool.”
Fast forward years later and that childhood dream has now become a reality.
“As I’ve gotten older, I wanted to go there because I just like the school and the atmosphere around the football program,” Stokes said. “I was given my opportunity and I took it.”
However, he is still involved in the recruiting process, but he has now shifted his focus to helping his teammates find the right fits for them to play at the next level.
“Now when it comes to recruiting, it’s all about my teammates and trying to get them out there,” Stokes said. “We have some athletes and some really talented guys on our team, that I think deserve a shot to play college football. I want to see them make the plays this season so that they can be where I’m at right now.”
That mindset demonstrates who Stokes is as a person and is a prime example of why he is a respected leader on the Panthers’ squad.
The recruiting process is nothing new to Stokes, who first received interest from Cincinnati and Wake Forest as an underclassman in high school.
However, the last couple of years the interest on the recruiting trail seemed to pick up drastically.
“Where it all started kicking up was after I came back from San Antonio and the National Combine,” Stokes said.
The National Combine is modeled at the NFL Scouting Combine and he was invited as one of the top 600 high school underclassmen in the nation at the time.
“It was a really cool experience, and pretty crazy just to be out there,” Stokes said. “From there it’s all moved just really fast and really aggressive.”
Stokes has been to several national camps since, and he always enjoys the competition and conversations that go on amongst the players taking part.
“It’s bad cool man, and I love it,” Stokes said. “They are all just so outgoing people, and we all have the same goals of playing college football and one day getting to the NFL. I’ve been able to make a lot of great friends throughout this recruiting process, and I’ve learned a lot from them.”
He took part in the finals of the 2022 Elite 11, which is a premier national camp featuring some of the top quarterback prospects in country. His commitment to the Gators came after returning from the camp.
Stokes understands that even he has progressed as a quarterback over the years, there are always things to work on and this offseason was no different.
“I’ve been trying to work on staying calm in the pocket, and I think I’ve been doing much better at that,” Stokes said. “I’m also trying to see the whole field, which has gotten so much easier once you can read defenses and you know where your receivers going to be.”
According to Stokes, he likes to play with a certain amount of swagger to his game, which he believes comes from his confidence not only in his ability, but the ability of his teammates around him to make plays.
“Probably my biggest attribute to playing quarterback is that I like to have fun out there,” Stokes said.
In many ways, the excitement he demonstrates when playing the game of football is something that he shares with his head coach Collin Drafts, who played quarterback both in college and professionally and serves as the Panthers’ offensive coordinator.
“As a quarterback, the bond you have with your head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback coach is so important, and it’s great because he’s all three of those,” Stokes said. “That’s something you need to have.”
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