ZEPHYRHILLS — It was at a "get better" mini-camp in March where things got a lot worse for Antwione Sims.
"I thought I was done, as far as recruiting goes," said the Zephyrhills senior, who tore his ACL. "I thought I'd be going juco or a small school."
On Wednesday, Sims was able to call the injury a blessing in disguise. It landed him with a school that stuck with him through the injury and happens to have one of the best rushing attacks in Division I-A. Sims is headed to the Naval Academy where he projects as a running back.
"They had offered me in the summer, knowing I was hurt," Sims said.
On one trip Sims got to sit in the offices of some assistant coaches, who took him through the intricacies of Navy's famed triple-option offense.
In going 9-5 this season, Navy ran for more than 300 yards per game. It likely would have been more but for the emergence of former Newsome option quarterback Will Worth, who threw for 1,400 yards while leading the way on the ground with more than 1,000.
"After sitting down and seeing it, them explaining it, I like it. You can't go wrong with it. That was a lot different than seeing it on you tube," said Sims.
With the Academy Prep program every Navy football player goes through, Sims in effect gets an automatic redshirt season. That will allow his right knee to recover fully.
Sims credited orthopedic doctor Jason Hunt, who told him the hopeful return date of early November for the 9-Mile War against Pasco was not going to happen.
"I wanted to play but he told me, not yet. Special credit to him and everybody who supported me," said Sims, who did get into action for the Pasco County all-star game, working in lightly as a defensive back "just to get back out there."
Sims ran for 200 yards per game with 20 touchdowns as a junior. He injured the knee on March 12 and had the surgery April 29, his 18th birthday.
"I was determined," he said. It was never frustrating because I had a lot of good people working with me on my rehab. It was hard …but I'm a hard worker.