5 top Clay County high school players to watch during 2023 football season

Tony Salazar

As the 2023 FHSAA football season begins on August 25, residents across Clay County will get an opportunity to see many talented football teams and players. Listed below are five names to watch under the lights for the 2023 football season.

Cibastian Broughton, Quarterback, Fleming Island Golden Eagles

Fans view Fleming Island as the team to beat in Clay County this season because of junior quarterback Cibastian Broughton. Broughton won the starting job at Fleming Island during his freshman season and has steadily improved each year. In 20 career games, Broughton has thrown for 2,630 yards and 23 touchdowns with 1,010 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. In the spring game versus Middlburg, Broughton went 6/11 for 175 passing yards and two touchdowns with 50 rushing yards in one half of action in head coach Chad Parker’s debut. Broughton is a three-star on the 247Sports recruiting website and has college offers from Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Liberty. Some other schools that have yet to offer but are looking at Broughton are Alabama, UCF, USF and Georgia Southern.

Photo byBroughton's Twitter

Payton Dykas, Wide Receiver, Clay High Blue Devils

Despite Clay High having a bad year for their standards, Dykas solidified himself as the best returning wide receiver for 2023. Dykas caught 52 passes for 931 yards and led the county with 14 receiving touchdowns, according to MaxPreps. Dykas also got to play safety last season and recorded 31 total tackles and two interceptions. Dykas returns for his senior year and hopes to add to his numbers in 2023 so he can play football at the next level.

Photo byDykas' Twitter

Braden Cunningham, Offensive Tackle, Fleming Island Golden Eagles

Cunningham was voted to the 2022 Clay County Coaches All-County Second Team for his performance at left and right guard for the best offensive line in Clay County last season. However, the rest of the offensive line graduated, allowing Cunningham to slide to the coveted left tackle spot to protect Broughton’s blind side for 2023. The 6-foot, 315-pound lineman will also play Division-1 football at the next level as he committed to the FAU Owls on June 12.

Photo byCunningham's Twitter

Da’Jon Brown, Linebacker, Oakleaf Knights

Brown was everywhere for a dominant Oakleaf defense in 2022. Brown was at the top of the rankings in almost every defensive statistical category last season. Brown was second on the team in tackles with 81, led the team in tackles for loss with 12, led the team in sacks with four, led the team in forced fumbles with five, one interception and one fumble recovery, according to MaxPreps. Brown doesn’t have much recruiting buzz at the moment. However, he is heading into his junior year and has the potential to catch the eye of college coaches during the season.

Photo byGrant Visuals

Kaylib Singleton, Defensive Back, Fleming Island Golden Eagles

Despite only being a junior, Singleton is the most coveted college prospect in Clay County. Singleton is a three-star prospect on recruiting websites and has offers from Florida, Texas A&M, Kentucky, UCF, USF, Iowa, Iowa State, Boston College and more. Singleton is ranked on 247Sports as the 435th player in the class of 2025, the 42nd-best corner in the country and the 58th-best player in Florida. In 16 games played during his two seasons at Fleming Island, Singleton has 25 tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception and two passes defended.

Photo bySingleton's Twitter

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I am a graduate of the University of North Florida with a major in communication with a focus in journalism and a minor in sports management.

Green Cove Springs, FL

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