Sunday, January 21, 2018

HomeTeam Huddle: Wiregrass Ranch's Jaye Miner returns to depleted defense

WESLEY CHAPEL — With 131 tackles last season — nearly 50 more than any teammate — Wiregrass Ranch linebacker Jaye Miner knows a thing or two about standing out in a crowd.

During practice Tuesday, he continued to do so, sporting bright blue and red Superman cleats.

Much to his dismay, the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder won't be wearing them in tonight's jamboree against Sunlake and Wesley Chapel tonight.

"We have to wear the game cleats. They're kind of ugly," he said, laughing. "I wish I could wear the Supermans."

Still, Miner — a rising senior who has offers from Marshall, Georgia State, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, South Alabama and Mercer — likely will be hard to miss.

After two straight winless seasons, the Bulls finished 4-6 in 2013. Two losses came by seven points or fewer.

But with much of last season's defensive starters graduated, including every linebacker except Miner, it could be tough for Wiregrass Ranch to build upon last year's success. Miner, though, likes what he has seen during spring practice.

"Most of our linebacker corps now are sophomores," he said. "I was just glad that they were able to step up and take a bigger role, be able to learn their playbook and fill in for the spots that we needed."

With the top three rushers and receivers from last year also gone, coach Mike Lawrence said he's fortunate to have a guy such as Miner to lead. But amid all the attention the Division I recruit likely will continue to get, Lawrence doesn't want his other contributors to get lost.

"(Miner's) a big piece of the puzzle," Lawrence said. "But yet there's 10 more guys on the field that help Jaye get to where he needs to; make him look like that superstar, which he is."

Quarterbacks compete at Wesley Chapel

Last season, Wesley Chapel finished 0-10, and youthfulness, coach Tico Hernandez said, was a big reason. Hernandez said he hopes returning many starters will mean a better team.

But at one position, the second-year coach might embrace the lack of experience.

As a sophomore, Scott Edwards started all 10 games at quarterback last season, throwing for 432 yards and three touchdowns. Hernandez said Edwards will start tonight's jamboree, but Austin Sessums is nipping at his heels.

Sessums attempted just two passes last season as a backup, completing one. Hernandez said he likes what he has seen from the 5-foot-6 rising sophomore in the offseason — not just for his own development, but Edwards'.

"Competition brings out the best in everyone," Hernandez said. "Typically when you have two guys competing for one spot, there's animosity and stuff like that. These guys do a really good job of working together because they want to be successful. They want what's best for the team."

Big things expected from Terriers' backup QB

All eyes will be on Miami commit Dwayne Lawson as he returns for his third season as Hillsborough's starting quarterback. It's the guy behind Lawson, though, who coach Earl Garcia believes could have a breakout season.

Lawrence Dawsey was the starting punter for the Terriers last season. This season, he also will serve as the kicker, backup quarterback and, maybe, do some receiving on the side.

"Lawrence is going to be instrumental," Garcia said. "He's going to have a big year for us."

Dawsey, whose father, Lawrence, played for Florida State, was USF's receivers coach and now is Florida State's receivers coach is part of a skill positions group Garcia said might be the best he has had in his time at Hillsborough.

The 5-foot-8 junior-to-be will have a lot of roles for the Terriers besides filling in for a four-star quarterback. Still, Dawsey is taking the job of Lawson's backup seriously. He has been given the chance to learn from a Division I-bound quarterback, so, Dawsey said, he's going to make the most of it.

"I try to pick up as much things I can, so when I do get in there, I'll be ready," Dawsey said. "I'll know what I'm doing."

Recruiting roundup

• Wharton receiver Auden Tate claimed two of his biggest offers this week: Florida State and Georgia. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder is a four-star recruit by Rivals and its No. 196 overall prospect. He also holds offers from, among others, Florida, Miami and Clemson.

• East Lake linebacker Carson Lydon orally committed to Virginia Tech after Wednesday's practice. Lydon, a rising senior, picked the Hokies over N.C. State and Wisconsin. Last season, Lydon moved from North Carolina to East Lake, in part, to gain more exposure playing in Florida. He made an immediate impact with the Eagles, registering 149 tackles, eight sacks and two interceptions to help lead them to their first state semifinal.

•Weeki Wachee lineman Brendan Clifton has signed with Methodist, a Division III school in Fayetteville, N.C. The 5-foot-11, 240-pounder was a three-year starter for the Hornets. He had 19 tackles last fall.

• Springstead defensive lineman Shane Wiggins signed with North Carolina-Wesleyan, a Division III program in Rocky Mount. As a senior last fall, Wiggins helped lead the Eagles to a region final — the deepest playoff run in Hernando County history — with 67 tackles, three forced fumbles and five sacks.

Tonight's games

• Sunlake and Wesley Chapel at Wiregrass Ranch, 6

• Zephyrhills at Orlando Oak Ridge, 7

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