As the summer grinds on, the challenge of offseason conditioning is clearly paying dividends for some football players. Guys often overshadowed by teammates are putting in a summer's worth of good work with the intent to make an impact this fall. And their coaches are starting to take notice.
Rayshied Melvin, Sr., RB, Armwood
Height/weight: 6-0, 215 pounds
2008 stats: 12 carries, 38 yards
Outlook: Coach Sean Callahan said Melvin is established as the No. 2 running back behind sophomore Matt Jones. Melvin has attended all the conditioning workouts and excelled during seven-on-seven games, Callahan said. "Just what he's done in the spring jamboree and at camps has shown us he's the guy," Callahan said. "He's going to play significantly and he'll start in some packages."
Derek Bavol, Sr., DE, Gaither
Height/weight: 6-5, 230 pounds
2008 stats: 38 tackles, two sacks
Outlook: Coach Mark Kantor said Bavol, a two-year starter at defensive end, does not miss a moment of weightlifting. "He's doing all the right things to make plays this coming season," Kantor said. "…We're big in the weight room and big in offseason running. The weight room's paying off. …Someone's going to get him and he's going to be a steal."
Henry McCloud, Sr., RB, Tampa Catholic
Height/weight: 5-9, 178 pounds
2008 stats: 253 carries, 1,253 yards, 13 touchdowns
Outlook: "He's a tough guy," coach Bob Henriquez said. "He takes care of the football." McCloud is a step quicker and Henriquez said he turned heads in the spring. "Recruiters were all asking questions," Henriquez said. All of the Ivy League schools are looking at McCloud, who ran well on a wet track at Harvard. "He may be a guy that emerges," Henriquez said.
Antonio Chow, Sr., RB/WR, Hillsborough
Height/weight: 5-7, 170 pounds
2008 stats: Eight carries, 15 yards; one catch, 14 yards
Outlook: Chow flourished in the spring jamboree against Chamberlain, rushing and receiving for more than 100 yards. "He'll play a lot of positions for us," coach Earl Garcia said. "He's really improved his stock during the offseason." Garcia said Chow has great hands and a 3.3 GPA. He has been hobbled by blisters on both feet but Garcia said he should be ready for seven-on-seven work this week.
James Saunders, Sr., RB/WR, Riverview
Height/weight: 5-11, 175
2008 stats: Four catches, 82 yards, one touchdown
Outlook: Saunders should compete with Ronnie Johnson and Terrance Carter for time at running back. Saunders blew away coach Bruce Gifford with his spring output. "He led us in rushing against East Bay in the spring," Gifford said. "We were looking at him as a third-down back. Now he's put himself to compete with Ronnie and Terrance to see who's getting one of those starting positions." Gifford said Saunders has finally taken to offseason workouts and gained about 15 pounds. "He realized it's make-or-break time," Gifford said.