HUDSON — Tasked with summing up the career of Zack Wynn, Hudson coach Mark Nash recounted a story he believed best described what made his prized quarterback so special.
"The thing I keep remembering now that he's a senior is our spring practice when he was still in the eighth grade," Nash said. "He couldn't practice, but he would come over and watch."
From beginning of practice until the end, Wynn, who had been a standout at nearby Hudson Middle School, stood by Nash's side. Sometimes he peppered his future coach with questions, but mostly he watched and took mental notes.
"He would listen to every play call," Nash said. "By the time he stepped foot in the halls of Hudson, he knew our offense backwards and forwards."
By Week 1, Wynn was the starter.
To date, he has missed only two starts, both after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during his sophomore season.
Entering tonight's Class 4A, District 6 game against Tarpon Springs, Wynn has 1,769 passing yards (with 15 TDs) for the 4-3 Cobras, giving him 6,469 yards for his career and a shot at becoming Pasco County's all-time leader. The mark of 7,657 was set by former Land O'Lakes star Drew Weatherford.
"He has been the perfect fit," Nash said.
Born in New Port Richey and raised in Hudson, Wynn began playing at a young age after watching his older brother, Allen, compete. Bigger and more athletic than most kids his age, Wynn's coaches immediately made him a quarterback.
"I was begging to play," Wynn said. "I wanted to be just like my brother. I guess I had some talent. But I don't remember much, so I don't know if I was good or bad."
When Wynn was 9 his father, Russell, died of cancer, leaving his mother, Chene, to raise him. Wynn joked that his mother doesn't have much of an arm, but was quick to point out she has fostered his career in other ways.
"She's my biggest fan," Wynn said. "She's always tried to stay away from coaching or helping out. But she's been to every game. And on Saturday morning, she can barely talk."
By the seventh grade, Wynn was the starting quarterback at Hudson Middle. In two years, he led the team to 11 wins in 12 games and two conference titles.
"He was a man among boys," Nash said.
As a ninth-grader, the 5-foot-10 Wynn wasn't asked to carry the Hudson offense. His primary role was to hand off to running back Jake McFadden, and because of that Wynn felt only minimal pressure.
As Wynn, who is now 6-3, grew in stature, so did his command of the offense. That allowed Hudson to open things up and become more of a passing team.
Today he has the option to change a play if he sees fit.
Most of the time, he makes the right decision.
"Oftentimes during the game, we don't think he made the right call," Nash said. "Then we go back and look at it on video and countless times, we've said, 'Okay, that's why he did that.' "
Opponents are equally impressed.
"He makes quick decisions and gets rid of the ball quickly," Tarpon Springs coach George Kotis said. "He knows (the offense) as good as the head coach and offensive coordinator."
Wynn's on-field smarts shouldn't come as a surprise. In the classroom, he has a 4.0 GPA.
Next year, Wynn hopes to be playing in college. (Western Michigan is the latest to show interest.) Right now, though, he's focused on getting Hudson into the playoffs.
"Zack's biggest attribute is that he's a competitor," Nash said.
Exhibit A: In last week's 22-21 district win over Ridgewood, Wynn went 5-of-7 for 60 yards on the team's final drive, threw a touchdown with 1:05 left, then converted a two-point conversion run.
"We had a pass play in mind (for the conversion) that we had practiced since the beginning of the summer," Nash said. "But Zack, being the mature kid he is, knowing we weren't having a great game passing, said, 'Coach, no … give me the ball and let me run it.' "