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Spring football: Day 1 notes
Posted May 2, 2012 by Bill Ward
Updated May 2, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Notes from spring football drills from around Hillsborough County on Wednesday, which was the first day the county’s public schools can work out.
At Robinson, two notable names turned up for opening day: Zain Gilmore, Jr., who last season at Blake passed for more than 2,000 yards but decided to transfer to the Port Tampa school, and former Knights head coach Bud Hodgens, who retired in 2002 but has rejoined the staff as an assitant under his former assistant, Mike DePue.
It all had a feeling of déjà vu at Robinson. There was Hodgens, who looked just like he did when he stepped down 10 years ago, and on the other end of the field was Gilmore, the son of one of his former star players with the same name.
What hasn’t changed is DePue. He’s still as fired up as ever. Still has the beat-up visor and the long hair in a pony tail. This is going to be his final season this fall at Robinson before he retires. Wonder if he and Hodgens can get jobs with the next Knights head coach?
For now, Hodgens is going to be working with the linebackers. And Gilmore will be fighting for the starting QB job against returning Knights starter Vidal Woodruff, who looks as strong and athletic as ever.
At Blake, new head coach Micheal Burns took over. It was a fairly small group on opening day—about 25 players were in attendance. But some, like running back DeAndre James, are heading to this weekend’s state track meet and others have yet to arrive.
When they get there, they’re going to find a very disciplined atmosphere and a few new coaches, including former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive lineman Anthony Davis, who says he’s trying to stay in shape in case free agency calls. From the looks of him, he’s as fit and ready as any of them.
At defending state champion Armwood, coach Sean Callahan says he’s got enought athletes to make a serious stab at defending his state title. He and defensive coordinator Matt Thompson particularly like what they see on defense—a unit Thompson says can be even better than last year’s defense (is that possible?)
With plenty of skill players returning like do-everything Alvin Bailey and QB Darryl Richardson, the Hawks’ biggest needs are on the offensive line. But they’ve already landed Aaron Evans (6-5, 270), a Seffner Christian two-way lineman who transferred, and Gabe Nold (5-10, 268), a center who played last year at Wharton.
Over at Jefferson, coach Jeremy Earle is a little hamstrung because of all the standout players who are headed to Friday’s Class 3A state track meet in Jackosnville. Among them are junior receivers Jonathan Moore and Tanelios Walton and sophomore quarterback Deiondre Porter.
In the meantime, junior QB Tyler Small (6-3, 200) is getting a lot of reps at the position—and looking good, Earle said.
‘‘As expected, we’ve got a lot of great talent that’s going to have a chance to play and do something special next year,’’ Earle said. ‘‘Some of these guys have made great improvements in the offseason and have been working hard. We’re pretty excited about what they can do.’‘
At Tampa Catholic, Jefferson’s former head coach, Mike Fenton, was working again with his longtime friend, head coach Bob Henriquez. Fenton is a Crusaders alumnus who took just a year off after winning a state title with the Dragons before he got back to coaching.
The big question mark at TC, of course, is who’s going to be the running backs? The Crusaders waved good-bye to Trevor Register, now at Jefferson, and Jordan Rich-Rogers, now at Gaither, when both withdrew from TC earlier this year. Those two accounted for the bulk of the Crusaders’ ground game.
Now, Henriquez says rising junior T.J. Harrell (6-0, 190), who spent most of his time at linebacker last year, and rising sophomore Corey Bennett are strong candidates. And so is Ken Mention, a rising senior who earned a medal in the state 400-meter dash last week.
‘‘We’ll be fine (at running back),’’ Henriquez said. ‘‘We’re got a good part of our (offensive) line coming back and that’s the key.’‘
And the key to that line is rising junior Corey Martinez (6-4, 305), whom Henriquez says some college scouts say ‘‘looks better than some of the guys we have now.’’