HUDSON — Will Fulmer lines up in the shotgun on a sunny day at Hudson.
As the 6-foot-2 junior leads the scout team and surveys the Cobras’ No. 1 defense, he pretends to be another team’s quarterback — which he nearly was.
After his father, Jay, resigned as Gulf’s head coach last fall following a recruiting investigation, Fulmer’s destination was unclear. His family tried to send him to two other Pasco County schools, and he said he was accepted at Nature Coast, too, but his family didn’t want to move to Hernando County.
“That was just a mess,” Fulmer said.
The mess ended on the first day of full-pads practice in the fall, when Fulmer joined Hudson, where his home is zoned. Now he’s trying to clean up a Hudson program that was winless in 2010 and had fewer than 20 players during spring ball.
Fulmer’s first day of workouts was a learning experience for him and his new team. After working in spread or I-formation offenses at Gulf, Fulmer had no idea what to make of coach Justin Fenton’s run-heavy spin offense. The Cobras were equally confused about the presence of their new 210-pound pocket passer in the locker room.
“They were trying to figure out who I was,” Fulmer said.
By Day 2, Fulmer was introducing himself to his new teammates and starting to grasp the new system. As he worked hard during practice, the newest Cobra emerged as a leader on a team that has lost several key players due to injuries or transfers.
“He’s been playing his whole life,” running back/linebacker Hayden Moyer said. “He knows how to get the job done. “If Will can make the plays like we expect him to, then we’ll do a lot better and win a couple (games).”
Fulmer quizzed coaches during breaks on the system’s details. When does he take the snap and drop straight back, as he did at Gulf? And when does he step to the side for a handoff, something he never did before?
Early results were rough. Fulmer completed only two passes in his first game but led the team in rushing.
“He’s a load to take down,” Fenton said. “Like tackling an offensive tackle.”
During last week’s bye week, Hudson coaches tweaked the playbook to adapt to Fulmer’s strengths. They implemented more passing plays and spread formations.
Receivers who were once valued for their outside blocking are falling down the depth chart if they can’t catch well.
“It’s an added dimension,” Fenton said. “We’re a team that, we never thought we were going to have to work on our pass protection, and now we’re having to rebuild it entirely.”
Fulmer is trying to lead a rebuilding project at Hudson that faces many challenges. Starting running back Albert Pari could miss the rest of the year with a broken collarbone. The bench is so short that Fenton occasionally straps on a helmet and plays linebacker against the first-team offense.
The Cobras have dropped their two games to Sunlake and Mitchell (preseason) by a combined score of 114-0. Hudson faces Clearwater Central Catholic this week before opening district play against Ridgewood.
But Fulmer is optimistic about Hudson’s future. He said the Cobras are the hardest workers he’s ever seen, and their pep rally before the first game was incredible.
“I’ve never seen that much school pride in a gym ever,” Fulmer said.
Now Fulmer must give his new program more reasons to be proud.
Staff writer Matt Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.