Hopefully you saw my story in today’s paper on Pasco alum Josh Johnson, who played at Purdue and will likely be picked Saturday in the final four rounds of the NFL Draft.
A couple extras that didn’t make the final version:
* Pasco coach Tom McHugh remembers one of the first times he watched Johnson play. McHugh was a peewee football official and saw Johnson rush into the open field, turn around and walk backwards into the end zone, waving the ball at his opponents.
McHugh still boasts that he was that his penalty flag was the first to hit the ground.
* It’s hard to overstate how much he means to Pasco. McHugh said if a player is slipping into trouble, he often asks Johnson to call or text the player and set him straight.
When Trey Dudley-Giles was preparing for UMass, he wasn’t always listening to his academic tutor. No one could get through to him – except for Johnson.
“He told me if you want to be at the Division I level, you have to get school work done,” Dudley-Giles said. “He’s there, so I should listen to him.”
* Johnson is close to his family, but sibling rivalries exist, too. Freshman Nate Craig has always tried to top his older brother in everything. …Full Story
When Kelli Stargel and other state legislators passed the controversial House Bill 1403 last year, one goal was to make it easier for high school students to transfer without losing athletic eligibility.
The irony: A year later (in some school districts), that task is becoming tougher, not easier.
The Pasco School Board is considering a policy that would have student-athletes sit out from sports for a year if they transfer schools, unless their families move, the district reassigns them to a new school through no fault of their own or they experience other hardships. A committee would have to approve their eligibility.
That idea, which could come up again at next week’s board meeting, is based on a Hillsborough County’s policy. And that, the Times’ Marlene Sokol wrote this weekend, has slashed the number of transfers considerably. At this time last spring, Sokol reported, one school had 27 transfers. Through four months of the new policy, Hillsborough has heard 49 cases across the district. …Full Story
Jim Marshall, the first baseball coach in King High history, will be honored in a pregame ceremony Saturday morning at the Lions' ballpark.
Those who played for Marshall during his eight seasons (1961-68) as King's coach are invited to a reunion starting at 11 a.m. The alumni will be introduced on the field 15 minutes prior to the Lions' 1 p.m. game against Bloomingdale. Marshall will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
For information, contact current Lions coach Jim Macaluso -- among the Lions alumni who played for Marshall -- at (813) 758-5642.Full Story
I’m not sure if this qualifies as a surprise, but I thought this was an interesting stat, courtesy of my friend @TexasHSFootball:
Attendance figures from Cowboys Stadium
* Class 5A, Division I Texas high school football state title game: 48,379
* Class 5A, Division II Texas high school football state title game: 42,621
* NCAA South Regional (UF-FGCU, Michigan-Kansas): 40,639
* NCAA South Regional Final (UF-Michigan): 36,585 Full Story
It's not quite as cool as cookie cakes or a wanted poster, but Florida assistant Joker Phillips got creative this week with this recruiting pitch, which made the rounds on Twitter yesterday.
Not sure how the late, great Heath Ledger would feel about it...or how recruits think, either. But hey, I'm all for something different. Thoughts?
A few more tidbits from the story in today’s paper on the salary and benefits assigned to the FHSAA’s commissioner and two state bills that would cap them:
* You might have noticed that one critical lawmaker, Rep. Larry Metz (R-Eustis), wasn’t quoted in the story. He wasn’t available for an interview…but he responded to some questions via email just after midnight, past our deadline (and my bedtime).
Metz echoed what Sen. Kelli Stargel said on why they’ve proposed capping the FHSAA executive director’s salary at what the governor makes.
“Such a limit is reasonable given that the organization is essentially funded with public school dollars or revenue collected in connection with public school activities,” Metz said. “I do not consider the FHSAA commissioner’s duties to be more demanding than the governor’s.”
* One criticism we’ve heard over the years is that the FHSAA’s commissioners make six-figure salaries while collecting their pensions as retired state employees. It’s not illegal, which is why today’s story only touched on it.
Metz called the issue “troubling” but said this bill wasn’t intended to change that. …Full Story
Mitchell’s boys golf team will host its annual fundraising golf scramble on April 21 at Fox Hollow Golf Club in Trinity.
Registration begins at noon, and a shotgun start takes place at 1:30 p.m.
Cost, which includes dinner, is $90 for an individual or $320 for a foursome. Hole sponsorships are available for $100, and the event will also include door prizes and on-course contests. The deadline to enter is April 12.
For more information, contact Mustangs coach Rick Hyatt at 727-372-3176 or email@example.com.
There's a certain symmetrical quality to the appearances by Jesuit and Wharton in this week's state boys basketball tournament, and it goes far deeper than the fact both will play Friday. Full Story
Probe a bit further, and you discover:
* Wharton coach Tommy Tonelli attended a Jesuit high school (Chicago's Loyola Academy).
* Tigers guards J.J. Weir and Jack Fleming annually attended Tonelli's summer camp at Wharton while growing up.
* Fleming's dad, Dan, coached Tonelli's youngest son, Matthew, at the AAU level.
* Both coaches, Tonelli and Jesuit's Neal Goldman, attended USF.
* Both teams' mascots are cats.
* Both schools' primary color is blue (albeit different shades).
We'd also mention the Wharton and Jesuit student sections are called the Blue Crew and Blue Tide, respectively, but that gets downright creepy. Anyway, you get the picture.
Lakewood senior Shaquem Griffin continues to gain national attention.
The UCF recruit appeared in the Faces in the Crowd feature in the latest Sports Illustrated (in my mailbox a few days ago, or online over here).
Griffin drew praise for his interception at the recent International Bowl in Texas. That play got him a shout-out in SportsCenter’s Top 10, too.
Griffin is the second Tampa Bay athlete who’s appeared in the weekly feature in the last year. Hernando baseball player Christian Arroyo (a Florida commit) earned the honor after being named the MVP of an international baseball tournament.
USF is playing host to a unique doubleheader Sunday -- entertainment followed by education.Full Story
A free collegiate eligibility/recruiting seminar for middle- and high-school athletes, parents, coaches and counselors will be held at the Sun Dome immediately after the Bulls' 2 p.m. men's basketball game against DePaul.
Dan Eassa, a former local TV sports producer-turned-eligibility guru who founded the freerecruitingwebinar.org site, is sponsoring the event in conjunction with USF and the Florida Athletic Coaches Association.
Billed as a "Super Seminar," the 90-minute event will touch on a variety of topics including scholarship "myths and facts," NAIA and junior college education, NCAA core course requirements and saving for college.
Though a free event, pre-registration is encouraged. Pre-registrants can choose to make the event an unofficial visit to USF and receive up to three free game tickets. For information, click here.
If Berkeley Prep's boys soccer team hopes to earn a third consecutive final four berth next season, it apparently will have to do it without top scorer Daniel Felman.Full Story
Felman's father, Dave, confirmed to The Tampa Bay Times in a recent e-mail that his son, who led the Buccaneers in goals (22) and assists (14) this past season, will forego his senior to compete with the year-round Clearwater Chargers Academy.
The Chargers are one of the U.S. Soccer Federation's two local Development Academy teams on a 10-month training schedule -- September through June -- that conflicts directly with the high school season. The academy's extended training schedule and participation in elite showcase events generally provides greater exposure to college coaches.
The conflict has had a greater impact on Pinellas County prep rosters, though Hillsborough certainly has felt some ripples. Wharton midfielder Jordan Lue, who enjoyed a promising sophomore season in 2012, bypassed his junior year to play for the Chargers.
Just how deeply the allure of academy soccer will bite into the bay area prep talent base remains unclear. Gaither boys coach Eric Sims, executive director of the sprawling Tampa Bay United club program, remains a proponent of the high school product. So do many of his prep peers.
But with the benefits academy soccer affords (i.e. year-round training, elite competition, greater scholarship chances), few doubt it will continue to tug at the high school talent base.
Question is, will it ultimately become a gravitational pull?
Weeki Wachee's athletic department will host a golf fundraiser on March 2 at Brooksville Country Club.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Hornets' athletic department and to Nick LaBarbara, the son of principal Troy LaBarbara. Nick was diagnosed with cancer over the summer.
The cost, which includes dinner, is $100 for an individual or $300 per foursome.
Sponsorships begin at $100.
Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., and a shotgun start takes place at 8:30 a.m. The event will also have prizes for a hole in one, a closest to the pin competition and the longest drive.
For more information, contact Weeki Wachee athletic director Mark lee at (352-797-7029, ext. 230, or Lee_m2@hcsb.k12.fl.us. Full Story
Now that signing day 2013 is almost a whole week behind us, it’s time to look at 2014.
Lotsa weird stuff going on with recruiting in south Florida. You've probably heard about Alex Collins, who wanted to sign with Arkansas before his mom took his letter of intent away.
You probably didn't see this story, courtesy of the Washington Post, about how Maryland coach Randy Edsall and an assistant were tailed by a truck in Belle Glade.