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Cotey: A football dream changes course

Berkeley Prep’s Jordan, left, and Julian Crockett grew up thinking they’d be playing football in Wesley Chapel.

JOHN C. COTEY | Times

Berkeley Prep’s Jordan, left, and Julian Crockett grew up thinking they’d be playing football in Wesley Chapel.

WESLEY CHAPEL — When they were kids, they would lie in bed and dream about moments like this.

Playing high school football in Wesley Chapel.

Half their friends in the stands cheering them on and the other half lining up on the field with them.

Bragging rights at the local movie theater or creamery on the line.

Now all grown up, twins Jordan and Julian Crockett's turn as stars at nearby Weightman Middle School now almost completely faded, the dream becomes a reality, though hardly the way they expected.

They still live in the heart of Wesley Chapel, just a few gallops into Lexington Oaks off State Road 54, but they will be bused into tonight's game.

From Tampa, wearing Berkeley Prep uniforms.

"I'm excited," Julian Crockett said, "but it's going to be weird."

As middle schoolers, the Crocketts played on the same team with Wesley Chapel Division I-A commitment Kamran Joyer and Pasco quarterback D.J. Clower.

Wiregrass Ranch didn't even exist when they were in eighth grade. Had it, the Crocketts — speedsters who can play any of the skills positions — think that's the school they would have attended.

Their choice at the time was Wesley Chapel, but their mother, Donna, said she never had any intentions of letting them enroll there.

Although there were suspicions of recruiting, Donna said she based her decision on advice from friends, including some teachers at the school, and Zac Kazanski, who played basketball at Berkeley but attended Weightman.

Had the decision been based solely on football, there were probably better choices, she said.

The Bucs were coming off a 10-0 season and losing most of their talent. They haven't won more than five games a season since.

"We looked around and went to an open house and just loved it," said Donna, whose twin daughters, Tamara and Tamiya, recently graduated from FAMU.

"It was a very difficult decision, but we knew that was a good place for them, and we were willing to make the sacrifices."

The Crockett boys weren't thrilled with Donna and dad Raymond's decision. It was a long drive, sometimes more than an hour, but mostly they missed their friends.

"I was kind of angry," Jordan said. "We felt like we were missing a lot of the same experiences they were having."

Once Wiregrass Ranch opened in 2006, the boys pined for a homecoming.

"It was something people always talked about," said Wiregrass Ranch coach Ricky Thomas, who taught at Weightman when the Crocketts attended. "At one point I thought it would happen."

While the twins thought about hooking back up with boyhood pals and current Bulls Travis Duffey and Sergio Asturius, "I don't think our parents ever considered it," Julian said.

• • •

The Crockett boys, once resistant, now thank their parents for keeping them at Berkeley Prep.

The seniors both carry at least a 3.3 grade point average and think Georgetown would be a great college choice, though they have drawn interest from schools such as Dartmouth.

Even Thomas, who would have loved to coach them, said it's difficult to argue with the decision and professes his admiration for both players.

"It was the right decision, no doubt," said Julian, who has scored six touchdowns this year. "Once we got the system down, it was better."

Jordan wakes up every morning at 6 a.m.; Julian sets his alarm at 6:02.

"I need that extra two minutes of sleep," he said.

They take turns driving to school — whoever isn't driving will try to muddle through some homework but almost always falls asleep.

Tonight, they will have a shorter drive home — maybe 15 minutes — and they hope they'll have those all important bragging rights.

"I really want to win this game," Julian said. "It's just like when you were a kid. It's special to play against the guys you grew up with, in your town. You don't want to walk around and have everyone talking about how they beat us."

Cotey: A football dream changes course 09/18/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 7:49pm]

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