Gray Crow was the quarterback of the future at Countryside in 2008, but with senior starter Jimbo Chmelik returning, the future couldn't wait, so Crow transferred to Ocala Trinity Catholic, where he threw 20 touchdown passes and was an honorable mention all-county pick.
But after a season away, Crow is back, and the Cougars job is his.
The 6-3, 220-pounder has wasted little time trying to win over his former-now-current teammates. At Monday's practice, he was constantly shouting encouragement, and slapping more helmets and backsides than a politician on the campaign trail.
"I have to gradually gain everybody's respect back," Crow said. "These are the same guys I was with before. It's a trust thing. I have to get it back."
If one of the questions surrounding Crow's return is his ability to lead, he seems intent on providing an early answer.
"He's taken a leadership role; he's got to being a quarterback," new Countryside coach Jared Davis said. "He's been able to show his work ethic this offseason, and the kids have rallied around that instead of the rah-rah stuff. He's shown them, 'Look, I'm going to work.' Now when he does the rah-rah, everybody's going to listen to him.
"Leaving did hurt him a little bit with the guys, so he'll have to build that back up a little."
The Cougars are hoping Crow is the real deal. Highly touted because of his size and arm strength, the rising junior still needs to work on his foot speed and pocket presence, as well as throwing a softer, more accurate pass when needed.
Once he wins over his teammates, he's hoping to do the same with college recruiters as well.
Last summer, Crow was verbally offered a scholarship by Notre Dame. But coach Charlie Weis was fired, and the offer is now in limbo.
"It pretty much kind of went away," said Crow, who is helped by the fact that Tony Alford, his recruiter, is a holdover on new coach Brian Kelly's staff.
"They showed interest in me throughout the coaching change. Brian Kelly and I talked during the (Fighting Irish) spring game, and he basically said they're going to see me in the summer and they'll decide from there. But they pretty much like me a lot and should be down here to see me."
A Notre Dame scout came to Countryside practice Tuesday.
Crow, whose brother, L.D., earned a Division I-A scholarship from Stanford after playing quarterback for the Cougars, said his top five schools, if he had a recruiting wish list, are: Notre Dame, Florida (which he says has been talking to him), Alabama, Southern Cal and Texas.
"High expectations," he said.
For now, though, he will try to help rebuild a Cougars offense that has a lot of big weapons to replace.
"I've just got to focus on getting my stuff done here, and the rest will fall into place," he said.
ANOTHER WR RECRUIT? Speaking of Crow, he will have one less big target to throw to after Andre Holloway transferred to Jefferson.
Holloway is a good-looking prospect. He's listed at 6-2, 175 pounds but looks bigger. He would have been the No. 1 wide receiver at Countryside and one of the best in Pinellas County, but instead he will try to fit in on a higher-powered offense with hot recruits such as Andre Davis, Chris Moore and Eric Royster.
GRADY TRAIN: Armwood quarterback Josh Grady has bulked up a little and has picked up some impressive scholarship offers, such as Northwestern, Purdue, Iowa, and this past week, USF. Armwood coach Sean Callahan says Grady, who worked out as a defensive back at the Elite Scouting Services camp, is being recruited by Northwestern and Iowa strictly as a quarterback, his desired position.
SLEEPER: I've always felt someone would take a chance on Hernando RB Alvin Delaine, a bit undersized at 5-9, 180 pounds, but awfully impressive on the field and a playmaker capable of carrying a team. This week, Georgia Southern and Elon made him offers. Word is Auburn, UCF and USF may soon follow.
John C. Cotey can be reached at email@example.com.