As the 2009 prep football season approaches, the Times will break down each position on the North Suncoast. Today we take a look at athletes.
1. Leon Orr, Sr., Gulf
2008 stats: 16 catches, 387 yards, three TDs; 15 tackles, four sacks
Notable: Listed among the top 100 national college recruits by Rivals.com, Orr is as athletic as they come. At 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, most would assume Orr is simply a big cruise ship cutting lanes for running backs. Of course, that's part of his job. But Orr can run, catch and beat most players head-to-head within 5 yards. That's because of his first step, coach Jay Fulmer said. "His first step is ridiculous. I don't know that I've ever had a kid — wide receiver or defensive back — that has the first step he's got. … It's how he can use that weight and explode the way he does."
2. Hakeeme Ishmar, Jr., Pasco
2008 stats: 17 catches, 287 yards, five TDs; four carries, 43 yards
Notable: The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Ishmar is cut from the mold of Pasco's top athletes in recent years. "If I could get him in good enough shape I would run him all over the place," Pasco coach Tom McHugh said. Ishmar can play all over the field, and don't be surprised to see him return some kickoffs and punts. With obvious Division I potential, Ishmar gets letters from schools that have been eyeing him on teammates' highlight tapes.
3. Chris Pierre Charles, Sr., Wesley Chapel
2008 stats: 22 catches, 279 yards; 16 tackles
Notable: Another talented two-way player with D-I talent, Pierre Charles is getting interest from FIU among others. At 6-2, 245 pounds, Pierre Charles makes a nice addition in coach John Castelamare's Wing-T offense alongside arguably the best group of linemen on the North Suncoast. Pierre Charles provides that mix of blocking and finesse, able to break off the line and run a clean route to lobby for the rare pass the Wildcats will throw.
4. Ja'Juan Story, Jr., Nature Coast
2008 stats: 27 carries, 188 yards, one TD; 4-for-9 for 92 yards, one TD; eight tackles, one fumble recovery
Notable: The thing about Story is his size; he's strikingly huge (6-3, 180). The Sharks plan to use him as a receiver, but he also has the ability to play quarterback. He runs a 4.3 40-yard dash and played every position listed on the JV. Story has the potential to be the talk of the North Suncoast by season's end.
5. Steven Read, Sr., Central
2008 stats: 25 catches, 376 yards, six touchdowns; 87 tackles
Notable: Check out Read's highlight tape on YouTube and it's easy to see what he brings to the Bears. He's sharp, athletic and has a way of finding the ball or getting in position to do big things. On offense or defense, Read is always in the play. And he also possesses the leadership skills to help Central compete.