MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Today's HomeTeam 100 spotlight falls on Pinellas Park's Tyree Graves, who comes in at No. 81 (see Nos. 81-90 here).
2011 stats: 69 tackles, seven sacks, four TD catches
The breakdown: Graves is a big boy — at 6-foot-3, 236 pounds he’s Pinellas Park’s best blocker. The senior’s as adept a pass rusher as there is Pinellas County, and boasts a pair of the softest, most reliable hands around.
But to truly appreciate the kind of athlete Graves is, consider: when starting quarterback Brandon Hames was injured on the eve of a playoff game against nationally ranked Bradenton Manatee, guess who stepped in and started with just an hour to prepare?
“What does Tyree do well? I think the question is, what doesn’t Tyree do well,’’ Patriots coach Kenny Crawford said.
Competing on a defense with Florida signee Jeremi Powell and Middle Tennessee State’s Iman Smith a year ago, Graves still managed 14 tackles for a loss, deflected six passes, forced four fumbles and recovered two.
But offense, namely tight end, is his true love. He has an offer from Ohio to play defensive end, but hopes to convince the school he can catch passes, too. Graves caught 14 passes, four for scores, last year.
“Coach tells us all the time in practice, if we drop the passes, we have to stick to the run,’’ said Graves, who also plays basketball and baseball. “So the more I get open, the more he’ll throw it to me because I’m a reliable receiver.”
Crawford agrees, saying he barely recalls Graves (or Garrett Nevitt) dropping a single ball last year.
Graves smiles broadly. “I got major hands. Any ball that comes my way…"
Watch Graves' 2011 highlights here.