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His knee is finally 100 percent, his arm as strong as ever, and his desire to get back out on a football field growing every day.
While other Pinellas County quarterbacks like Tarpon Springs’ Louis Pappas, East Lake’s Pete DiNovo and Countryside’s Gray Crow are grabbing the offseason headlines, maybe the most gifted one of all has been quiet.
But that’s how Largo’s Juwan Brown likes it.
“I’ve just been going to the weight room, trying to get as strong as I can, and going over the playbook with (offensive coordinator Ryan) Taylor,” said Brown, a rising junior.
Last season, a promising start for Brown was derailed by a knee injury in the fifth game of the season against Tarpon Springs. In his finale, he was 12-for-19 for 200 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 72 yards.
As a result of his lingering injury, he has been rehabbing and staying off the camp and combine circuit.
That will change in the coming weeks, as he’s planning on attending a Nike camp this summer as well as camps at USF and Florida State.
Last year, he attended a camp at Miami. All three schools have expressed interest in the 6-foot-2, 180-pound dual-threat quarterback.
“He’s a very talented kid,” said Largo coach Rick Rodriguez, not a big believer in camps or 7-on-7 ball. “He’s going to have a big year this season, I can see it coming.”
Brown said his right knee, which sustained a stress fracture, didn’t feel completely right until three weeks ago.
He is planning on Saturday meet-ups with his wide receivers and tight ends “to work on my footwork and get my timing down,” and with as many weapons at his disposal as any quarterback in Tampa Bay this season, he can’t wait to get started.
“We’ve got to try to meet the expectations,” Brown said, “starting with winning districts. But we want to try to push for state.”
TALENT OVERFLOWS: With the transfer of eventual Division I recruit Jack Lightsey from Orlando Dr. Phillips to Armwood, is it possible for any running back to be happier than Hawk standout Matt Jones?
No, says one of his best blockers.
“He’s already smiling like 90 percent of the time anyway, this just finishes it off,” said top lineman Cody Waldrop, a 6-foot-3, 315-pound rising senior.
Jones, who has committed to Florida, will be running behind what has the potential to be one of the greatest and most recruited offensive lines in recent Tampa Bay history.
Waldrop has offers from Cincinnati, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, LSU and Miami.
Cameron Dees (6-3, 290) has offers from Florida International and Ohio, and Kevin McCoy (6-5, 275) has an offer from USF.
And guys like Sheldon Lewinson (6-2, 225), who has an offer from Western Michigan, and Brandon Teeling (6-3, 230) can play both sides of the ball, and possible spring game starter Sean Gavitt is 6-6, 300 pounds and intriguing.
Add Lightsey, a 6-4, 275-pounder who is attracting attention from the likes of North Carolina, Penn State and Syracuse, and you have the makings of a bulked-up buffet for college recruiters.
“Dude, I’ve never heard of an offensive line with all five starters having D-I offers,” Waldrop said. “We could be a freak of nature.”
Waldrop isn’t assuming Lightsey will be the starter, and said neither should he. Despite opening holes for Alabama commit Dee Hart, who ran for more than 2,000 yards and a state-record 50 touchdowns last year, Lightsey will have stiff competition in Seffner.
But Waldrop said so far it looks like Lightsey is up for the challenge.
“It will create some competition,” Waldrop said. “Just because you started over there doesn’t mean you’re good enough to start here.
But Jack understands that, and he’s worked out with us the last couple of days (in the weight room) and he works real hard.”
No matter who starts, Seffner will be a hot spot for recruiters next month, and a lot of the focus will be on the line.
To find them, just follow Matt Jones’ smile.
TRAVELING: Waldrop says he will be attending LSU’s spring game April 9, and the following week he’ll be at Georgia’s game, where he hopes to also land an offer from the Bulldogs.
Over spring break, he says he plans on visiting South Carolina.
KEEP AN EYE ON: We like to feature guys off the beaten recruiting path, and this week we introduce you to Damian Garvey, who caught our eye while overpowering people on his game film.
The Wesley Chapel offensive lineman is 6-2, 293 pounds and full of potential, says his coach Ben Alford.
He played last season at 316, which is way too heavy, said the coach, who would like to see him at 275.
He has dropped 20 pounds since last season, his grades are up, and with the same hard work Alford sees his big lineman nabbing a few scholarship offers.
Alford has fielded a call from Oregon, which inquired about any defensive highlights (at 6-2, the Wildcat may be more suited for the defensive line), but Garvey was mostly an offensive player and because he wasn’t in the best of shape, going both ways was impossible.
But this year, Alford is seeing a different Garvey.
“He does have some ability,” the second-year coach said. “He has good feet, good hands, he’s strong. The biggest issue was always conditioning. It’s tough for a 320-pound kid to go four quarters. But I’m kind of excited to see what he’s going to do on the field this year.”
ESS: The Elite Scouting Services combine is scheduled for April 10 at Armwood, and most of the big names like Lakewood’s Dante Fowler, Jefferson’s Tyriq McCord, Armwood’s Matt Jones and Plant City’s Bennie Coney will be on hand.
Former FSU quarterback and 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke will be on hand to work with the quarterbacks, and local standouts Josh Grady (Vanderbilt) and Anthony Chickillo (Miami) will talk to the participants about the recruiting process and how they navigated it.
The event will feature the usual combine testing, along with 1-on-1 drills and possibly some 7-on-7 with the skills position players.
For more information, check out elitescoutingservices.com/combine.