Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer

Bob Putnam

Bob Putnam is a fourth-generation Floridian who was born in St. Petersburg and graduated from Dixie Hollins High School (Class of '91). He went to St. Petersburg College (1991-93) and USF (1993-95) before working at the Times as a staff writer in 1996.

Phone: (727) 445-4169

Email: putnam@tampabay.com

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  1. Artavis Scott makes an early splash with Clemson

    College

    Clemson receiver Artavis Scott is a college freshman who has soared to records the way he has soared over and past defensive backs: with an explosive combination of athleticism and speed.

    In two games, the former East Lake High standout ranks 22nd among Division I-A receivers in yards per game at 102.5. Most of that came Sept. 6 when Scott had six receptions for 164 yards against South Carolina State to set a Clemson freshman single-game record. He surpassed the mark of 155 set by Sammy Watkins, a first-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills....

    Artavis Scott had six receptions for 164 yards against South Carolina State to set a Clemson freshman single-game record, surpassing the mark of 155 set by Sammy Watkins, a first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills. [AP photo]
  2. Sunday Morning Quarterback

    Footballpreps

    Four 200-yard rushing performances

    Chris Schwarz, River Ridge: The bulldozing back rushed for a career-high 299 yards and five touchdowns in a 42-21 win over Wiregrass Ranch. His rushing total in Week 3 was more than in his first two games combined (293).

    Stephon Williams, Calvary Christian: The senior transfer from St. Petersburg Catholic rushed for a career-best 270 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-7 win over Northside Christian to help the Warriors improve to 2-1....

    TP_360741_WALL_football_6 (10/12/2012  Tampa) Sickles' Ray Ray McCloud III (34) celebrates a 23-22 win over Hillsborough with his teammates. SECOND HALF ACTION: Hillsborough High School plays at Sickles on Friday. Sickles won 23-22. [DANIEL WALLACE, Times]
  3. Football: Clearwater Central Catholic 41, Jesuit 27

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA — Clearwater Central Catholic and Jesuit took 10 paces, whirled — and ran the football at each other.

    All night long.

    The Marauders were better equipped for the quick-hitting stuff. They had Jeff Smith, one of the area's most elusive quarterbacks in the area. With spectacular bursts of speed, the Boston College commit turned the corner and left pursuers breathlessly behind, rushing for 216 yards and scoring three touchdowns on the ground. His last score, a 10-yard run in the fourth quarter, proved to be the difference in a 41-27 CCC victory....

  4. Three questions with Calvary Christian RB Stephon Williams

    Footballpreps

    3 questions | Stephon Williams

    Last year, Stephon Williams was lost in the running back shuffle at St. Petersburg Catholic. He gained 726 yards rushing and scored eight touchdowns, but he was overshadowed by Jacquan Fuller and Tony Jones Jr., who each had 1,000-yard seasons. All were expected to return in what was supposed to be a stacked backfield. Instead, they were part of an exodus of star players. Jones is now at IMG Academy in Brandon. Fuller left for Indian Rocks Christian. Williams transferred to Calvary Christian, where he has a more prominent role as a running back. In two games, Williams has 252 yards rushing, 102 receiving and six touchdowns. He also leads the team in tackles with 24. Tonight, he leads the Warriors (1-1) against Northside Christian (2-0)....

    “I’ve been able to break off with a couple of nice runs,” said Stephon Williams.
  5. Dunedin quarterback Argi Radani wins appeal to play

    Footballpreps

    Dunedin quarterback Argi Radani was ruled eligible to play his final season by the Flo­rida High School Athletic Association during Thursday's sectional meeting in Bradenton.

    Radani, a senior, initially planned to remain a student at Clearwater Academy International, which does not offer 11-man football, while playing for Dunedin. State rules typically allow a student to play for another school if the nonmember private school has fewer than 125 students and does not offer interscholastic sports....

    Dunedin quarterback Argi Radani, handing off to Jordan Williams, is eligible to play tonight against East Lake but will not start.
  6. Vulnerability of Palm Harbor University High's boys swim team buoys others

    Swimming Preps

    The high school boys swimming season in Pinellas County started with a new script. For the first time in a decade, Palm Harbor University is not expected to dominate the opposition.

    Forget that the Hurricanes have won two state team titles in the past four seasons. Forget that they have 11 straight conference titles and eight straight district titles and entered the season with a nine-year undefeated streak in dual meets....

    “I think (boys county swimming) is up for grabs,” Spiric says. “The talent seems to be pretty evenly spread out.”
  7. Cross country: Pinellas runners to watch

    Crosscountrypreps

    The Pinellas County cross country scene took a hit with graduation, but plenty of talented runners remain. Here are the ones to watch this season.

    Girls

    Hayley Brahm, Northeast: The Vikings' top runner took first at last week's Pirate Invitational and leads a team that could contend for a district title.

    Hannah Brookover, Calvary Christian: The junior's eighth-place finish at last year's Class A state meet is tops among the county's returners. Last week, she placed second at the Lecanto Invitational....

    Calvary Christian’s Hannah Brookover returns after finishing eighth at last season’s Class A state meet as a junior.
  8. Football: East Lake 42, Largo 0

    Footballpreps

    EAST LAKE — There are a number of reasons East Lake has become Pinellas County's dominant program, from a punishing running game to a stifling defense.

    Perhaps the least known factor, though, is the Eagles' ability to play lights out on special teams. Last season, East Lake blocked 12 punts or field goals, nearly all of them resulting in scores or a short field.

    On Friday, the Eagles continued their knack for blocking kicks. Carson Lydon blocked one punt and tackled the punter before he could get off a punt on Largo's first two series. The Eagles turned both of those big plays into points, jumping out to a big lead en route to a 42-0 victory in which a running clock was used in the second half because of the mercy rule....

    East Lake High School’s senior linebacker Carson Lydon (3) sacks Largo High School quarterback Donovan Hale (4) during East Lake’s 42-0 win Friday night. “There’s something about playing this team (Largo) that makes me want to step it up and turn on another switch,” Lydon says. “I just want to go all out.”
  9. East Lake's George Campbell commits to Florida State

    Footballpreps

    In an intensely anticipated moment, East Lake receiver George Campbell announced his commitment to Florida State on Friday, ending a frantic recruiting period over the past nine months.

    Campbell made the decision during a webcast on ESPN.com's Recruiting Nation. The setting was subdued, held inside an office at school with a few family members in attendance.

    But his announcement reverberated throughout the recruiting world. Within minutes of making his decision, Campbell was trending on Twitter. That is not too surprising considering Campbell is one of two players in ESPN's top 100 for the 2015 class that has his own Wikipedia page....

    East Lake receiver George Campbell in Friday’s game against Largo, hours after he announces his oral commitment to Florida State.
  10. East Lake's George Campbell to announce college choice Friday

    Footballpreps

    After nine months of anticipation and three years of intrigue, East Lake receiver George Campbell's recruitment comes to a conclusion today.

    It will end without much fanfare. No big stage. No room full of students and players. No cameras flashing. Instead, Campbell, one of the most popular and charismatic players in the 2015 class, will make his announcement in a cramped office at school. He will gaze into a camera and render his decision on ESPN.com's Recruiting Nation....

    East Lake’s George Campbell decommitted from Michigan.
  11. Healthy Hale a definite boon for Largo

    Footballpreps

    LARGO — Donavan Hale possesses the size (6 feet 3, 205 pounds) and skills (elusiveness, strong arm) that make him one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in the bay area.

    The Largo senior's greatest talent is one that can't be taught: the ability to turn a busted play into a positive one. It is one of the main reasons first-year coach Marcus Paschal tailors the offense to Hale's strengths....

    If Largo quarterback Donavan Hale can dodge tacklers as he does here in a preseason game, he might be healthier for both football and basketball than he was last year.
  12. Indian Rocks Christian running back charges ahead after injury

    Footballpreps

    On Zeke McGaughy's first carry in last year's Class 2A state semifinal game, he was tackled awkwardly, forcing his right knee to bend in a way knees are not supposed to bend.

    The Indian Rocks Christian High School running back knew something was wrong, but he did not know how bad the injury was until a trainer asked him to run along the sidelines.

    "As soon as I tried running, it felt as if someone tied a rope around my ankles and pulled it out from under me," McGaughy said. "My knee just gave out."...

    McGaughy scored once in last week’s season’s opener.
  13. Football: Pinellas County roundup

    Footballpreps

  14. North Suncoast Game of the Week: Sunlake 17, Pasco 13

    Footballpreps

    DADE CITY — Sunlake's formula on offense is to run the ball, shove people around and play with the finesse of a smokestack.

    The main beneficiary of this physical approach is running back Nathan Johnson, who gained 1,504 yards last season. Johnson got plenty of carries in Friday's season-opener against Pasco. At times, he was bottled up, but Johnson was able to find enough wiggle room to rush for two touchdowns to lead the Seahawks to a 17-13 victory over Pasco....

    Sunlake wide receiver Nick Valdes can’t contain his jubilation after the Seawhawks’ big win.
  15. East Lake has an excess of success

    Footballpreps

    EAST LAKE

    You get the feeling every time East Lake coach Bob Hudson walks out of his office, he trips over another student longing to become part of the football program or a college coach eyeing one of his prized prospects. • At a time when many bay area programs struggle to field junior varsity teams, the Eagles are overflowing with 160 players, including 107 on the junior varsity. Because the program has become so popular, Hudson had to turn away students who wanted to join once classes began two weeks ago. • The varsity roster is filled with so much talent, 11 of the 22 seniors last season went on to play in college. This season, more than 125 colleges from all levels have stopped by Hudson's office since the spring to look at his players, some with multiple visits. • To get an idea of how stacked the Eagles have become, consider that after Jake Hudson was named the starting quarterback last season, the other three battling for the job — Garrison Bryant, Jordan Leston and Brandon Swift — eventually transferred and now start for other schools. • The only thing East Lake appears to lack is enough playing time to distribute among its stars and stars-in-the-making....

    From left, Drew Couto, Regis Steighner, Jake Hudson, Carson Lydon, Blake Duckworth and Justin Strnad are among the 160 players in East Lake’s program (varsity and junior varsity). 
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times