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Vote Now: Who is the Top Returning Football Player on the Florida Panhandle for the 2023 season?

We have 17 players for your consideration out of the Florida Panhandle

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best-returning players in high school football for the 2023 season out of the Florida Panhandle.

Our list includes some of the best in the region and players who proved to be invaluable to their teams last season in making key passes, catches, runs, tackles and sacks at the end of the game, being clutch on offense or helping lead the defense as the top player in the county. 

Plenty of worthy names are on this list, so be sure to vote in our poll for who you think will be the top returning player for the upcoming season. Voting will close on August 31st, just in time for the start of the regular season.

Editor’s note: Our corresponding poll is intended to be fun, and we do not set limits on how many times a fan can vote during the competition. This poll is specifically for fans to vote on the players that have been nominated and in no way discredits any other player that may not be mentioned in our poll.

Jon Daniels, OL, Pine Forest: The 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive tackle is already committed to play for the Florida State Seminoles and will be the mainstay of the Pine Forest offensive line. Daniels is arguably the top offensive lineman in the Sunshine State. 

Cole Tabb, RB, Choctawhatchee: One of leading rushers in the entire Sunshine State all last season was Tabb. The powerful tailback has started to see his recruitment pick up after a 2022 campaign that was one to remember. Tabb rushed for 2,407 yards and scored 24 touchdowns. 

Battle Alberson, QB, Gulf Breeze: Having the size college coaches love at the quarterback position in 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Alberson backed up looking the part by playing the position well. Last season for the 5-5 Dolphins, Alberson completed 116-of-197 passes for 1,696 and 17 touchdowns versus just six interceptions. 

Amarion Hover, RB/LB, Blountstown: Hover also plays in the backfield for the Tigers and rushed for 936 yards, scoring 12 touchdowns. Last season at linebacker, Hover totaled 126 tackles, 13.5 for loss, one sack, one fumble forced.

Maddax Fayard, WR, Niceville: The wide receiver already has several Power Five offers on the table coming off a solid 2023 campaign. Fayard totaled 65 catches for 986 yards and six touchdowns for the Eagles. 

Jordan Pride, ATH, Blountstown: Already committed to Texas A&M, Pride returns to a Tigers’ defense that also features Artavius Jones, a Miami (FL) commit. Pride in 2022 had 20 tackles, two interceptions in seven games. 

CJ Nettles, RB, Pensacola Catholic: Undoubtedly one of the top sophomore running backs, not only in the Panhandle but the state, was Nettles. Breaking out in 2022, Nettles rushed for 1,285 yards and punched in 23 touchdowns. 

Cameron Keys, CB, Mosley: Keys committed to Missouri this summer and is coming back as one of the top players in Panama City. The Mosley defensive back notched 26 tackles and two interceptions in 2022. 

Khaiden Kennedy, RB, Chipley: A lot of attention was always given to wide receiver Dequayvious Sorey, but Kennedy was a home run threat out of the backfield as well. In 2022, Kennedy churned out over 1,400 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. 

Jackson Ward, LB, Pace: Ward is one of the Panhandle’s top returning tacklers and his 2022 statistics speak to that. Ward made 123 tackles, three for loss and three sacks. 

Jason Patterson, RB, Sneads: Patterson has seen his stock rise throughout this offseason and it’s attributed to the kind of fall he had last year. In 2022, Patterson rushed for 2,721 yards and scored an impressive 35 touchdowns.

Carson Hawk, QB, South Walton: The solid dual-threat quarterback returns as the unquestioned South Walton starting quarterback. Hawk compiled over 2,000 yards of total offense along with 26 touchdowns for the Seahawks in 2022. 

Wyatt Scruggs, WR/DB, Northview: Scruggs was the top defensive back for the Chiefs, notching 64 tackles and picking off six passes. On offense, Scruggs had over 300 yards receiving for the Class 1R state runner-ups. 

Dekaylen Hines, DT, Escambia: The Gators leaned heavily on Hines and the front seven throughout 2022. Hines last season made 56 tackles, eight for loss and 5.5 sacks and comes back as one of the team's top defensive players. 

Eddie Love Jr., RB, Fort Walton Beach: When it came to piling up the yardage, Love Jr. was right up there with the top running backs. The former Navarre Raiders' tailback rushed for 1,244 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. 

Hunter Pfiester, QB, Navarre: Starting for the 8-3 Raiders last season, Pfiester was clutch in many big games for Navarre in 2022. His ability to make plays down the stretch of games proved big in wins over Mosley, Pace and Tate. The junior threw for over 1,700 yards and 19 touchdowns last fall. 

Lazarius Parks, RB, Crestview: The wide receiver comes back after leading the Bulldogs in touchdown receptions (6) and second in yardage (549). Parks after the kind of 2022 season he had is primed to have a stellar fall campaign and will play at running back for Crestview this season. 

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at and follow him on Twitter @Andy_Villamarzo.