Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Gulf QBs make the grade, return to the fold

HOLIDAY — It may have been blistering hot Tuesday morning at Anclote for the first Westside 7-on-7 games, but Gulf's Keshaun Peters and Avery Welch couldn't have been happier to be on a football field.

Both players missed the Bucs' spring practices due to academic ineligibility, but are now eligible and will be fighting for playing time at quarterback.

"Watching on the sideline was the worst thing ever," Welch said. "I'm just trying to get back into shape.''

Peters was one of the best athletes on the field Tuesday against Tarpon Springs, Anclote and Mitchell. He threw five touchdowns and caught two to help Gulf win two of three games. It was the first time he's been able to work out with his teammates since the end of his freshman year.

"It's been really hard,'' Peters said. "I just had to get my grades up. I'm ready to go now.''

This is the rising senior's last chance to make an impact. The Bucs were 1-9 last season and could use Peters' athleticism on offense and defense. He is also a receiver and defensive back.

"It's really important for me because I have to get back with the receivers and make sure we gel together," Peters said. "This is where we work on getting our timing right and get set for the season."

Peters will likely share quarterback duties with Welch. Both have some talented receivers to work with, especially rising sophomore Deandre Hopkins, who made some big catches Tuesday.

"Our team is better in 7-on-7 than any team out here," Welch said. "We just have to work on our line. But next year, I think we're going to dominate. Our receivers are ridiculous. I don't care what people think we're going to do, I know what we're going to do."

Vinkler re-adjusts

It will take Anclote quarterback Brandon Vinkler about a month to get back into football shape — not because of injury or lack of reps, but his baseball throwing motion.

The rising junior plays first base and pitches, and has even attracted attention from professional scouts. The lefty hit .292 in 2014, collected 21 hits and drove in eight runs in 2014.

"Right now I'm kind of rusty because I have a baseball throw and that kind of messes me up," Vinkler said.

Despite receiving interest from major-league clubs, Vinkler's passion still lies on the gridiron. "I don't really focus on baseball as much as I do football," he said.

As the starter during last season's 6-5 campaign, Vinkler threw for eight touchdowns and was only intercepted three times. But he still sees room for improvement.

"Footwork, deep throws — you know everything that every other quarterback does reading coverage," said Vinkler, who has been invited to attend a camp at the University of Kentucky.

Wilcox is one to watch

Tarpon Springs standout tight end Mitch Wilcox has been drawing a lot of attention from Division I schools recently.

The rising senior just received an offer from USF and expects one from UCF is just around the corner. The tight end has also gotten a look from Midwestern schools like Youngstown State and Iowa State. Wilcox will attend a camp at Purdue on Friday, then make an appearance at UCF's camp a few days later.

Wilcox will play a large role for the Spongers as they look to improve on a 7-5 season from a year ago. He will be used on both sides of the ball, seeing time at defensive end as well. Wilcox will use this summer as a chance to improve his conditioning.

Tuesday, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Wilcox proved useful as a large target for quarterback Brandon Casler. The tight end's afternoon included a 40-yard score in the Spongers' opening game against Mitchell and another touchdown in the team's win over Anclote.

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