CLEARWATER — Donnie Abraham, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer standout and Gibbs coach, embarked on an exploration Monday.
Named the successor to Clearwater coach Tom Bostic last month, Abraham’s mission — at least for now — is to learn the schemes and players. After that, he will try to harness the playing styles to develop a system to his liking.
“I’m still kind of feeling my way through things,” Abraham said. “But I feel at home on a football field and feel pretty good about coming here. I’ve been able to look at some film and got to know some of the players and coaches. I’m just doing a lot of evaluating right now.”
In July, Clearwater announced it was looking for a coach in waiting to replace Bostic, who is retiring after 30 years at the school. The Tornadoes wanted to think out a transition without quick-hire urgency, to nail down the guy they wanted and remove uncertainty for players who might otherwise transfer.
Abraham said he heard rumblings about the position but didn’t realize it had become official until reading about it in the Tampa Bay Times. He applied July 18 and was hired a week later.
“Everything came about real fast,” Abraham said. “Clearwater has always had a tremendous program and Bostic has done a great job. Everything is in place here to succeed. And I admire the administration sticking with their philosophy on finding a coach-in-waiting and not falling to the pressure from everyone else to do something different.
“But my job right now is to be an assistant and help out wherever I can.”
The Tornadoes had about 30 players for their first practice. One player not coming to Clearwater is Abraham’s son, Devin, a wide receiver/defensive back at East Lake.
“Devin is settled there at East Lake,” Abraham said. “It’s his home school and they’re building something special there. But if he ever came to me and said he wanted to come here, I wouldn’t hesitate in taking him.”
Now that father and son are at different schools, the rivalry has begun.
“I already told him I’m not wearing any more blue in our house,” Abraham said. “It’s all red for me. I’m excited about getting started and helping turn this thing around.”