INDIAN ROCKS — The biggest question Indian Rocks Christian had at the start of spring practice was who would start at quarterback.
The answer was supposed to be Garrett Ross-Johnson, last year’s starter who threw for 1,378 yards and 13 touchdowns in leading the Golden Eagles to the Class 2A state semifinals. Ross-Johnson, though, decided to concentrate on baseball full time, leaving a major void.
Then the rising junior had a change of heart. After Ross-Johnson’s reverse course on playing, IRC welcomed him to practice last week and immediately reinstated him as the starter for Thursday's game against Berkeley Prep.
“The athletic director (Phil Farver) and some coaches were talking to me about coming back,” Ross-Johnson said. “But that wasn’t what really persuaded me to come back. After I decided not to play, practice started, and I kind of missed being out there and had the itch to get back on the field.”
It didn’t hurt that Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist spoke at the school’s chapel two weeks ago about the value of playing multiple sports in high school.
“That was perfect timing, and put another voice in Garrett’s ear about coming back,” coach Mark Buchanan said, jokingly.
The return of Garrett-Johnson gives IRC’s offense the balance it needs to offset a strong ground game that returns three players — Theo Anderson, Damian King and Zeke McGaughy — who each rushed for more than 900 yards last season.
“After starting a full season, I’m a lot more comfortable with the offense,” Ross-Johnson said. “Our goal is to put up even bigger numbers this season.”
Admiral Farragut readies for Friday’s game
Because of an early end to its school year, Admiral Farragut has only 14 days of spring practice. So a heavy downpour Wednesday afternoon didn’t stop the Blue Jackets from squeezing in a full practice. They moved inside to the school’s wrestling room before finally moving outside for the second half of practice.
AFA plays at Hawthorne on Friday night, and coach Ryan Hearn, who is going through his first spring at the school, is still getting used to things at Admiral Farragut.
“I’m used to playing in late May and having more practices and seeing 80 kids out there,’’ Hearn said. “But it’s a little different here. We have about 34, but some are out for various reasons and some are eighth graders. The guys who are here are going all out and I have no complaints. But it is different.’’
Hearn said there are players who are getting some interest this spring. Rising senior defensive back Jestin Green has been offered by Florida International ,and Hearn said Rutgers was going to stop by Wednesday. Quarterback Dalton Collins has interest from Columbia, Air Force, Yale, Davidson and Mercer. And defesnive back/running back Isadore Wood has interest from Army, Colgate and Davidson.
Hearn said his offensive line averages 6 feet 3, 260 pounds.
“It’s the biggest offensive line I’ve had as a high school coach,’’ he said. “They haven’t had many practices to gel together. That’s going to take some time.’’
The Blue Jackets even have some star power on their team. George Hamilton, Jr., son of the actor by the same name, is a rising sophomore receiver.
• Clearwater Central Catholic running back CJ Cotman is becoming one of the most sought after recruits in the 2017 class. He already has an offer from UCF and received another from Kentucky this week, Marauders coach John Davis said.
• East Lake offensive lineman Julian Santos, who is taking Mason Cole’s spot at left tackle, picked up his first offers from Kentucky and Massachusetts this week, Eagles coach Bob Hudson said.
• Boca Ciega defensive back/receiver Kenyatta Anderson picked up an offer from Marshall on Wednesday.
• Lakewoood quarterback Ryan Davis and cornerback Saivion Smith, as well as Gibbs defensive back Craig Watts, all received offers from Ohio State this week. Speaking of Lakewood, coach Cory Moore said by his count, 52 college recruiters have come by this spring to look at or talk to various players.