LARGO – Pinellas Park cornerback Zamari Maxwell is infatuated with the game of football.
When he isn’t practicing or training at one of his many positions, the rising senior watches documentaries, movies and football clips on a daily basis.
Maxwell, a 6’1″, 173-pounder is fresh off of a junior campaign where he totaled 44 tackles, seven interceptions and one forced fumble. He also had 183 total yards on (122 rushing, 61 receiving) coming on 14 offensive touches.
Up 18 lbs. from the end of last November, he promised me that 2016 is going to be a different type of season for the Patriots.
“Last year we got robbed with a three-way tie with East Lake and St. Pete,” Maxwell told Prep Sports Scouting. “It adds fuel to the fire.”
Pinellas Park lost out in a three-way tie with St. Pete and East Lake in Class 7A-District. It should come as no surprise that he’s highlighted his three biggest games all against district rivals East Lake, St. Pete and Countryside (full schedule here).
After never really being part of a winning culture prior to high school, Maxwell said getting used to winning is “a good feeling, but you just keep raising expectations.”
“This team is something. We have so much fun. Everything is clicking, smooth and going better than expected.”
Maxwell started football at the age of 5 but says he didn’t like it initially. He came back two years later at cornerback and has stuck there ever since at his primary position.
On top of his duties as a starting cornerback, he gets moved around the offense at wide receiver and running back. In the spring game, Maxwell played quarterback as well behind projected starter Kai Washington, a transfer from Wauchula Hardee. He’ll be the backup behind Washington.
Sophomore year is when Maxwell first got his taste of varsity late in the season. He played and learned behind Rashaan Watson, who is now at South Alabama.
As for his junior year, he says it went really well. That’s being modest considering he finished tied for seventh in the state, second in 7A and tied for second in his class of 2017 with seven picks.
“I have a different mindset going into senior year. This year is a pretty big year and I have high expectations for myself.”
Maxwell credits one of his coaches Marcus Floyd to getting him to where he is today. He says Floyd got him back on track prior to last season.
As for his biggest strengths, he says that is his ability to play one more position. Maxwell points to his off man, zone technique and press man as big parts of his success at corner.
He’s looking to improve his lateral quickness and to not let things frazzle him so easily.
Currently, Maxwell holds 32 offers. They started coming prior to the spring and ever since then they’ve come in bunches.
“My family members kept saying ‘you are going to blow up.’ I didn’t realize what that meant until it happened.”
His top offers are Iowa, Wake Forest, UCF, Virginia Tech, Kentucky, Iowa State and Tennessee. Maxwell says he is open to the other offers but is focused on his “Top 7.”
He tells me that he is planning to take an official visit to Iowa on Sept. 3.
The Patriots have been highly successful the past three seasons under head coach Kenneth Crawford. They’ve gone 26-7 while making playoff appearances in two of those seasons (2013 -region semifinal) and (2014 – region quarterfinal).
Maxwell and his teammates were hit with the news that Crawford was diagnosed with skin cancer this past season. But Maxwell says that didn’t change much on the gridiron.
“He [Crawford] doesn’t really talk about that stuff because he makes us think there is nothing to worry about. He puts us first but he doesn’t want us to put him first.”
He calls Crawford a character and a guy that he looks up to.
“As a team, we are used to it and we enjoy the type of coach that he is. But that man has no filter. He’s loud, aggressive, reckless, but it’s in a good way. He gets you fired up and hyped. We all love him to death.”
Maxwell calls his mom his biggest role model.
“Her ambition and work ethic is amazing. She’ll go out of her to please us. I’m a momma’s boy. She’s never missed a game and has always been on my side. She is my motivation and honestly I’m doing this for her and my family.”
Although he hasn’t decided on a school or a major, he’s weighing both of those options. Maxwell wants to get his degree and become a better man because he says he knows football won’t be there forever.
However, don’t think he is still aiming to make his dreams come to fruition.
“My goal is to first make it to the NFL and then after that have everyone in my family situation so we don’t have to worry anymore. I just want to be able to say I made it.”
There’s very little not to like about Maxwell. He takes his education seriously, flashes his football IQ every time he hits the field and prides himself on being unpredictable at cornerback.
Zamari Maxwell can play just about anywhere on the field, but when it comes to his craft at defensive back it’s hard to find someone more complete than him in Pinellas County and perhaps the state of Florida. He is headed towards big things at the next level.
Favorite players to watch – Eagles CB Jalen Mills, Buccaneers CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Redskins CB Josh Norman, Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson, Cowboys WR Dez Bryant, Steelers WR Antonio Brown and Iowa CB Desmond King
Playlist before games – Kodak Black, YFN Lucci, Lil Uzi Vert, Drake, Meek Mill and Famous Dex
Favorite movies – Transformers series, Marvel movies, Remember the Titans
Favorite TV shows – E:60, Hard Knocks, Ridiculousness, Impractical Jokers, SportsCenter, 30 for 30, A Football Life
Fun fact about you that you think no one knows – “Outside of being very serious, I have a very goofy side as well. I’m really laid back and like to have fun.”
Nickname(s) from teammates or friends – “1uminary”, “Mari”
Game film: Maxwell’s Hudl tape
Photo credit: Tampa Bay Times
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.