RIVERVIEW — Given Nick Addison’s ability to light up the scoreboard at quarterback, shut down opposing receivers at cornerback, and return kickoffs and punts, Spoto coach Dale Caparaso was already convinced his do-it-all senior could fill any need the Spartans had.
But last Thursday, while Spoto was going through its usual walkthrough on the field, Addison managed to again leave his coach bewildered. Rather than stand back and watch the second-team offense, the senior grabbed a ball, holder and center, went to the other side of the field and started nailing 40-yard field goals.
“Son, why didn’t you tell us you could do this?” Caparaso asked.
“Coach,” Addison responded, “you didn’t ask.”
Addison has proven more than capable of doing anything his coaches ask of him this season. He rarely steps off the field for the Spartans — only on kickoffs and punts, he said, though he won’t be kicking field goals for the team any time soon, simply to protect his leg. And Spoto will certainly rely on the multi-talented Addison as the Spartans (5-1) look to prove themselves tonight against Plant (4-2) and next week against district foe Jefferson (6-0).
“I’m really not surprised by anything Nick Addison does. He may be the most gifted athlete I’ve been around in 31 years,” said Caparaso, who coached plenty of talented players throughout his time at Pasco and during four state-championship seasons at Bellingham (Mass.) High. “I’m not sure there’s anything the kid can’t do on the field.”
Already widely regarded as the top cornerback in Hillsborough County after intercepting a county-best seven passes last season, Addison has surprisingly made a name for himself at quarterback. Through six games, he is second only to Jefferson’s Quentin Williams in the Tampa Bay area in passing yards (1,640) and touchdowns (20, tied with Land O’Lakes’ Stevie Weatherford).
Oh, and it’s his first year under center full time.
“I wasn’t expecting the numbers. I was expecting to run a little bit, pass a little bit,” Addison said. “I feel a lot more comfortable. I’m seeing the field better now.”
Plant coach Robert Weiner, who faces the challenge of slowing down a team that has outscored opponents 185-8 the past four weeks, said Addison could be the best player at every position on most teams. But that isn’t what has impressed him most.
“He’s turned the corner not necessarily as a quarterback, but that he’s turned the corner on just being a football player,” Weiner said. “You can kind of see that on film, that he’s not just a good athlete now, that he’s a become a good decision maker and obviously a good leader.
“He’s in the most important leadership positions over there. They have a lot of good athletes, but he’s definitely the engine that makes it go.”
Addison’s incredible numbers have been made possible by the talented group around him. Caparaso said senior Danny Taylor (910 all-purpose yards, eight touchdowns) runs a 10.3-second 100-meter dash and has a 42-inch vertical jump. Running back Tim Adams has turned into a much-needed threat out of the backfield with 7.09 yards per rush and 24.78 per reception.
But Addison’s biggest weapon has been Tyron Baker. The 6-foot-3 receiver leads the bay area with 885 yards and 14 touchdowns on 42 receptions — more than half of Addison’s 79 completions. Caparaso coached three highly recruited receivers at Pasco in Darrell Davis, Johnny Peyton and Domonic Brown, but he said Baker might be the best.
“Tyron catches the football better than all three of those kids. He doesn’t have the speed those three kids do, but he catches the football,” Caparaso said. “He’s the most pure receiver I’ve ever been around. When (Addison) overthrows to him or underthrows to him, he has a tendency to compensate.”
Defensively, Addison is as good as ever. Caparaso said Addison — who is being recruited as a cornerback and has offers from Washington State, Ole Miss and Iowa State — has only had two balls thrown in his direction this year. He picked off one, and the other was overthrown, falling incomplete. To keep him involved, Caparaso implemented a corner blitz into his defense, and Addison has deflected six passes rushing off the edge.
“The next two weeks, I can guarantee you, somebody’s going to throw at him. And he’s been waiting for that all year long,” Caparaso said. “He really is a special defensive back. We’ve had people at the Division-I level saying he’s got NFL potential, assuming he continues to progress.”
If there’s one cornerback who has been able to stop Baker one-on-one this year, it’s the same guy who throws him the ball. Baker and Addison have lined up opposite each other just once in practice: Baker said he made a one-handed catch, only to have Addison knock it out of his hands while he was reeling it in.
“It was a good matchup,” Baker said with a grin.
Masters of multiple positions
With just 29 players on its roster, Spoto relies on do-it-all athletes like Nick Addison to take on as many roles as possible. The Spartans are loaded with multi-dimensional talent, and so is the rest of Hillsborough County. Take a look at some of the players who can’t simply be defined by one position — or even two.
Nick Addison, Spoto, QB/CB/KR/PR: 79-for-141 passing, 1640 yards, 20 TDs; 1 INT, six pass deflections; 57.5 yards per kickoff return; 1.33 yards per punt return
Nelson Agholor, Berkeley Prep, RB/DB/KR/PR: 60 carries, 570 yards, 10 TDs; four receptions, 87 yards, two TDs; one INT, three pass deflections; 20.33 yards per kickoff return; 11 yards per punt return
Charles Lovett, Hillsborough, QB/WR/DB/PR: 6-for-15 passing, 84 yards, one TD; 35 rushing yards, two TDs; 20.25 yards per punt return
Tanner Richardson, Seffner Christian, QB/DB/K/KR: 20-for-52 passing, 293 yards, 3 TDs; 82 rushes, 502 yards, seven TDs; 34 tackles; one FG, five PATs; 24.29 yards per kickoff return
Frankie Williams, Robinson, WR/DB/KR/PR: 14 receptions, 232 yards, 5 TDs; 20 tackles, two pass deflections; 66.33 yards per kickoff return; 10.14 yards per punt return
Ramik Wilson, Jefferson, TE/LB/P: six receptions, 88 yards, two TDs; 41 tackles, seven sacks, one pass deflection; 47.67 yards per punt
Staff writer Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this report.