Hillsborough dual-threat quarterback Dwayne Lawson will still have to wait more than eight months to make it official, but the 6-foot-5 junior took a step towards ending his recruiting process last Thursday when he orally committed to Miami.
For the Terriers’ star, it was not a moment too soon.
“It’s a heavy load off me,” Lawson said. “That’s one thing I want to focus on: my team. Right now I’m a Hillsborough Terrier. It’s in my blood.”
Last season Lawson threw for 2,120 yards and 22 touchdowns while contributing 1,068 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.
Lawson, who also became a 3A state champion in the triple jump (47 feet, 6 ¾ ) this month, will be a third-year starter for Hillsborough, giving the Terriers a key ingredient for a state championship-caliber team, coach Earl Garcia said.
“There’s really no bounds to how far he can take us,” Garcia said. “We’re going to go as far as Dwayne takes us, it’s as simple as that.”
Last year, the Terriers competed in a tough district with Jefferson and 6A state runnerup Armwood. Even Lawson couldn’t take them very far, as Hillsborough (7-3, 5-1) had two of its three losses in the first two weeks of the season against the Hawks and Dragons.
“They call it the district of death,” Garcia said. “There’s only two coming out of that thing alive.”
Once again, the Terriers will take on their district foes in the first two weeks of the 2014 season. This time around — with the college decision behind him — Lawson can concentrate on leading his team to reversing that outcome.
“(The biggest thing is) the team playing as one,” he said. “You can’t win a state championship with one player.”
By the numbers: Strawberry Crest DB Josh Engram
72 Tackles last season as a junior
180 Pounds on his 5-foot-10 frame
310 Max weight in the bench press
495 Pounds squatted
265 Personal best in the power clean
4.57 Time in the 40-yard dash
6 Sacks recorded last fall
Ashante Dennard, Jefferson: Coach Jeremy Earle said his 6-foot-2 middle linebacker has been “dominant, as expected” so far. He had 29 tackles as a junior and will be the focal point of a defense that should aid a rebuilt offense.
Nate Ferguson, Gaither: The 5-foot-9 cornerback has reeled in a few college offers this spring. With fellow secondary standout Amani Oruwariye headed to Penn State for the fall, Ferguson will become the focal point of the defense. He was fourth on the team with 89 tackles and also had an interception.
Jake Hampton, Sickles: On a team with tons of defensive talent — county defensive player of the year Josh Black and FAU-bound Devin Santana — Hampton was the team’s top tackler (120). Expect him to break out this fall.
Cody Endris, Tampa Catholic: The linebacker’s 83 tackles and four interceptions made him one of the Crusaders’ most productive defensive players last fall. Tampa Catholic graduates a lot on defense, including Tre Watson and T.J. Harrell, which will give Endris even more opportunities.
Jefferson defensive back Jeremiah Baltrip landed his first offer, from Tulane. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound athlete recorded one interception last fall.
Plant City athlete T.J. Chase added offers from Michigan State and Penn State.
Alabama gave Sickles athlete Ray Ray McCloud III his latest offer.