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Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer

Bob Putnam

Bob Putnam has covered high school sports for the Tampa Bay Times as a staff writer since 1996. He is a fourth-generation Floridian who graduated from Dixie Hollins High School and wrote for the student newspapers at St. Petersburg College and USF. He has covered the high school careers of football stars Riley Cooper (CCC/Florida/Philadelphia Eagles), Dante Fowler (Lakewood/Florida/Jacksonville Jaguars), Leonard Johnson (Largo/Iowa State/Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Dexter McCluster (Largo, Mississippi/Tennessee Titans), among others.

Phone: (727) 580-4395


  1. Preseason football: East Lake 16, Hillsborough 0


    EAST LAKE — This was the first chance for Hillsborough to tinker with its new weapons on offense. Jefferson transfer Tyrese Spain made a few catches. Wiregrass transfer Da Da McGee had some nifty moves on a handful of carries.

    But for most of Friday night, the Terriers were stuck in neutral.

    East Lake's defense had a lot to do with that.

    Twice, the Eagles stopped Hillsborough on downs. East Lake's defense also forced four turnovers, scoring off one. That was more than enough to pull through in a 16-0 preseason win....

  2. Preseason football: Wesley Chapel 33, Land O'Lakes 16


    WESLEY CHAPEL – When Jelani Vassell took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, it appeared the rout was on for Wesley Chapel. 

    It was one of the few highlights for the Wildcats in the first half.

    The extra point following the kickoff return was blocked. On defense, Wesley Chapel had a lapse in pass coverage on a big touchdown. A snap sailed out of the end zone, resulting in a safety. And the offense was stopped twice on downs. ...

  3. Bombers' college camp kick starts recruiting process for softball players


    CLEARWATER — After playing a series of makeshift games, softball players from all age levels gathered around the pavilion area at Eddie C. Moore complex. They listened attentively as 10 college coaches answered their questions about the recruiting process.

    The Q&A session wrapped up a two-day camp in Clearwater put together by the Bombers travel ball organization. There were no exclusions. Players from other organizations could participate as long they paid the $160 registration fee. Members of the Bombers and teams of eight or more players were given a discounted rate....

    The Clearwater Bombers travel ball organization held a two-day camp over the weekend that concluded with college coaches answering questions about the recruiting process. (Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer)
  4. Plant's Ty Thompson out with torn ACL


    Plant running back Ty Thompson is out for the season after tearing his ACL during a scrimmage this past weekend.

    “Ty’s foot was planted in the turf and his leg gave way awkwardly on the tackle,” Panthers coach Robert Weiner said. “It was nothing intentional. It’s just unfortunately one of those things that is part of the game.”

    This is the second time in the past three years the Panthers have lost one of their premier skill players to a knee injury before the start of the season. In 2015, quarterback Rex Culpepper tore his ACL during USF’s Sling-n-Shoot tournament....

    Ty Thompson is out for the season with a torn ACL
  5. Softball coaches, parents say travel ball profile is 'spot on'


    Travel softball is a booming business. Organizations are expanding. So are tournaments, such as showcase events.

    Parents know just how expensive it can be with some spending as much as $10-14,000 on the sport annually. The ultimate quest is a scholarship, a hard thing to obtain considering most college programs only offer partial ones....

    Assistant head softball coach for Georgia State University Todd Downes, watches the Atlanta Legacy Showcase softball tournament on Friday, July 14, in Acworth, Ga. (John Amis/AP for the Tampa Bay Times)
  6. Clash 4 Clayton raises thousands for Mahler family


    SPRING HILL — Saturday’s officials scrimmage at Springstead High featuring 12 teams from Pasco and Hernando counties also doubled as a fund raiser. Springstead athletic director Dustin Kupcik renamed the scrimmage the “Clash 4 Clayton,’’ with proceeds going to aid former Hudson coach Rob Mahler’s 1-year-old son in his battle against Stage III pediatric cancer....

  7. Softball scholarships a pricey pursuit for elite travel teams


    ATLANTA — Alex Hare can make acrobatic moves to corral grounders from every direction. She can slap a softball into the gap or smack one over the fence. She displays speed, power and range, all the tools necessary to make it as a shortstop at the college level.

    The Mitchell High junior hones her skills through countless hours of lessons on every aspect of the game, from pitching to hitting to fielding to agility. She shows them off at showcases, tournaments and camps. ...

    Alex Hare, second from left, an infielder at Mitchell High School who plays for the Firecrackers travel team, gets a pep talk from her club coach Bill Hoopes, left, after striking out during the Atlanta Legacy Showcase softball tournament on Friday, July 14, in Acworth, Ga. (John Amis/AP for the Tampa Bay Times)
  8. Treshaun Ward transfers to Tampa Bay Tech


    With preseason games less than two weeks away, Treshaun Ward was in his own personal limbo.

    The former Plant City running back was scrambling to find a place to play. He wanted to attend Armwood since the spring, but his mother said the Hillsborough County school district denied a hardship waiver to go there.

    On Tuesday, Ward found a home. He announced via Twitter that he is transferring to Tampa Bay Tech....

    Plant City's Treshaun Ward transfers to Tampa Bay Tech
  9. Wiregrass Ranch RB Da Da McGee transfers to Hillsborough


    Da Da McGee, a 1,000-yard rusher for Wiregrass Ranch last season, has transferred to Hillsborough.

    "It's always hard to leave a school where you had friends and good teammates that were there for you," McGee said. "It was basically the skills that was over there. I'm not saying Wiregrass didn't have any skills, but it was a choice that I made to make me a better player than before."

    McGee's departure continues the exodus of Bulls this summer. Wiregrass Ranch had already lost athlete Raymond Woodie III, who moved to Oregon, and defensive back Shamaur McDowell, a Minnesota commit who transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton....

    Da Da McGee rushed for 1,063 yards and 11 touchdowns last year at Wiregrass Ranch. (Scott Purks, Special to the Times)
  10. Armwood's Malcolm Lamar commits to Oregon


    Armwood defensive lineman Malcolm Lamar indicated last month he would most likely wait until national signing day to make his college commitment.

    On Friday, Lamar decided he could not wait any longer, announcing through a video on his Twitter page that he was committing to Oregon.

    “I wanted to wait because I thought it was going to be hard to find a home to play in college,” Lamar said. “But I found that home in Oregon.”...

    Armwood's Malcolm Lamar is the fourth area player in the 2018 class to commit to Oregon
  11. Illini, Gophers and Lions, oh my: All locked in on Tampa Bay recruits


    Toledo, which has had at least three locals on the roster for the past seven seasons, is not the only non-state school having success landing local prospects from the 2018 class and beyond. Here are five others....

    Oregon head coach Willie Taggart utilizes his USF roots to help land area athletes. (Associated Press)
  12. Target on Tampa Bay: Toledo establishes firm recruiting foothold


    After committing to Toledo last week, Wharton defensive back AJ Hampton was asked how many other locals were joining him.

    "To be honest, I don't know," Hampton said.

    It is hard to keep track given how many area players have already decided to become Rockets. Hampton was the latest on a list that includes fellow Wharton teammate and offensive lineman Lavel Dumont, Admiral Farragut offensive lineman Sam Baker and Armwood linebacker Caleb Sutherland....

    You could call Bernard Reedy the catalyst for Toledo's success recruiting Tampa Bay. The Rockets have had at least three locals on the roster for the past seven seasons. (Associated Press)
  13. Plant High's Morgan Tankersley named national swimmer of the year

    Swimming Preps

    After setting three state records at last year's Class 4A state meet, Plant High School's Morgan Tankersley has earned lofty status.

    On Tuesday, Swimming World named the senior the 2017 national female high school swimmer of the year. Reece Whitley of Pennsylvania was named the boys swimmer of the year. The two will appear on the cover of Swimming World's September issue.

    Tankersley joins an impressive list. Natalie Coughlin, Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky were previous national swimmers of the year....

    Swimming World named Plant High School senior Morgan Tankersley the 2017 national female high school swimmer of the year. [Scott Purks, Special to the Times]
  14. St. Petersburg Catholic alum Marty Lyons recovering from stroke


    Former St. Petersburg Catholic standout Marty Lyons is recovering from a stroke he suffered three weeks ago, according to ESPN.

    Lyons, 60, became a star with Alabama and the New York Jets. He is a longtime color analyst on the Jets' radio broadcasts and will miss the first two preseason games. He is hoping to return for the Aug. 26 game against the New York Giants, ESPN reported.

    At SPC, Lyons played multiple sports. He was dominant as a lineman and became an anchor for Alabama's defensive front. In 1978, he was a consensus first-team All-American and helped the Crimson Tide win the national title....

    Marty Lyons had 45 sacks in his 11-year NFL career and was a member of the Jets' "New York Sack Exchange."
  15. Tampa Prep SG Jaren Phillips rises fast in ESPN basketball rankings


    Tampa Prep SG Jaren Phillips has rocketed up the rankings, vaulting to No. 6 overall in the state in ESPN's latest list of top basketball recruits in the 2019 class.

    Phillips, a 6-foot-4 junior, averaged 15.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists last season. The four-star prospect is the only area player listed by ESPN in the state's 2019 rankings.. Oldsmar Christian's Elijah Weaver is ranked sixth in the state for the 2018 class....

    Tampa Prep junior basketball player Jaren Phillips