Palm Harbor University’s offseason has been filled with football players changing schools.
Shane Dixon, the team’s leading receiver, bolted for IMG Academy. Starting fullback Connor Dorris transferred to Clearwater Central Catholic. Backup quarterback Brevet Killett left for Gibbs.
But starting quarterback Tyler Kaminski has stayed.
It would have been easy for Kaminski to join the mass exodus. After all, the junior has just one offer (Fairmont State) and is facing a critical season in which he hopes to show enough on the field so that more scholarship opportunities come his way. That could be difficult with so many skill players defecting.
But Kaminski made up his mind to be a loyal foot soldier and declared his allegiance to the Hurricanes. He even sent a group text message imploring those who stayed to adopt a one-for-all and all-for-one mentality.
“For me, it’s not just about the stats,” Kaminski said. “It’s about playing and winning together as a family. There is some adversity we have to go through with a few guys leaving. But we’ve faced adversity before, and we’ve been fine.”
Last season, PHU had to replace 90 percent of its offensive production. Kaminski had the toughest task, stepping in for graduated three-year starter Billy Pavlock. But Kaminski showed progress, throwing for 1,027 yards and 10 touchdowns, and leading PHU to its second straight playoff appearance.
This offseason he has been the ubiquitous Hurricane, working in the weight room, in passing leagues and in the classroom.
“Tyler has been the consummate leader,” coach Matt LePain said. “He’s stepped up in every way.”
He also has been working on getting more attention from colleges by participating in as many camps and combines as possible.
“I’m only 6 foot, so I’m not going to measure up that way in what colleges are looking for,” Kaminski said. “I just have to go out and show what I can do on the field and hope that that’s enough.”
Kaminski was invited to participate in this weekend’s Elite 11 quarterback camp and is using the trip to visit Georgia State and Valdosta State.
“I’m going to do what I can,” Kaminski said. “But I’m not going to worry too much about the offers. If they come, that’s great. I’m more focused on leading this team to another winning season and another playoff appearance.”
Spotlight on …
Plant rising senior Andrew Beck, a 6-3, 230-pound linebacker who took all the suspense out of his recruitment and committed to Texas on Tuesday. He chose the Longhorns from among 15 other colleges that offered him scholarships, including Florida State, Miami, USF and Stanford.
How he became a top recruit: As a junior, Beck led the Panthers with 126 tackles, 32 for a loss, six sacks and eight passes defended. Beck also scored a touchdown as a tight end. In recent months, Beck has garnered a lot of attention on the recruiting circuit with several impressive performances at combines.
First offer: Miami on Feb. 12.
Last college he visited before committing to Texas: Stanford.
Last college he called before committing to Texas: Florida State. “It came down to a couple of schools. The hardest thing was telling them ‘no,’ ” Beck said.
How Texas won his commitment: Beck and his family lived in Harker Heights, Texas, for five years while his father was stationed at Fort Hood. Only about an hour away from Austin, Beck fell in love with the Longhorns, who won a national championship in their first year in Texas and went 58-8 over that stretch. Even when Beck moved to Colorado, then Tampa, the Horns had captured his childhood imagination. “It was the longest I had lived any place,” Beck said. “It’s always felt like home.” His mother, Sally Beck, also makes regular visits back to Harker Heights to visit friends and liked the idea of him being close to them. “We made some great friends there,” she said. “So he’ll have a support system nearby, too.”
Last player from Florida to play for Texas: Phil Brodkin, a redshirt freshman kicker from Miami Palmetto, in 1992. Or about three years before Beck was born. …If Beck signs with the Horns in February, he would become just the second player from a Florida high school to land at Texas in the past two decades. The other? Trey Holtz, a walk-on quarterback from Plant and the son of former USF coach Skip Holtz. (He has yet to play.)
Did you know? Beck won the NFL’s Punt Pass Kick national competition for 10- and 11-year-olds in 2007, then repeated as the winner in 2008 for 12- and 13-year-olds.
Change of plans
As recruits travel across the country for practices, camps and scrimmages, it’s worth remembering that highly touted prospects still have teenager things to do.
Hernando fullback/linebacker Jeremiah Jackson visited USF for practice recently and said he liked the Bulls’ coaches. He would have been interested in attending USF’s spring game, but he had other, fairly significant plans — like his high school’s prom.
Jackson plans to make upcoming visits to UCF, South Carolina and Miami, where his late uncle, Jerome Brown, starred.
Arizona created a recruiting buzz last year by sending out wild west-style wanted posters to top recruits across the country, such as St. Petersburg Catholic running back Ryan Green.
The Wildcats have continued the tactic this spring and sent one to Nature Coast defensive end Rohan Blackwood, who is wanted for “blowing up plays, assaulting offensive linemen and dominating high school football.”
Blackwood, a USF target, has picked up offers from Wisconsin and Mississippi State this month.
QBs and CBs
High school quarterbacks are notoriously tough to judge and project in college because maturity, leadership and toughness don’t show up on film.
A Rivals story last week included another position — cornerback — among the most challenging to evaluate.
Elite cornerbacks don’t have a lot of quality film because opponents rarely throw at them. That means the sample size is small, so it’s hard to gauge a recruit’s techniques. And if a prospect does have a lot of highlights, then quarterbacks are throwing their way, which suggests he might be more vulnerable than expected.
“Either way you still have a lot of questions,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes told Rivals.
Staff writers Matt Baker and Joel Anderson contributed to this report.