We said it before spring drills commenced, and we’re repeating it now: Hillsborough County possesses more quarterback depth than ever before. In the past few days alone, we’ve observed four signal-callers with staggering potential who will be entering their first full season as starters. Combine them with the more proven guys (Plant City’s Bennie Coney, King’s Greg Windham, Tampa Catholic’s Chivarsky Corbett, etc.), and the area QB talent pool seems as boundless as Lady Gaga’s wardrobe. Here are thumbnail sketches of the four we’ve seen recently (listed with the grade they’ll be in when the 2011 season begins):
Jon Economou, Sr., Freedom
Size: 6-4, 225
At a glance: Does this dude know how to fill out a uniform. A transfer from Wiregrass Ranch last season, Economou became the starter in the second half of 2010 after moving from tight end. On and off the field, the year was a difficult transition, but coach Tchecoy Blount suggests Economou will explode this fall.
Comment: “The 2011 Economou is progressing daily, becoming a team player and positioning himself as a leader. He is a more focused and determined player. Jon wants to prove his name should be mentioned when the topic is top Hillsborough County QBs for 2011.” — Blount
Tommy Eveld, Sr., Jesuit
Size: 6-3, 180
At a glance: After waiting his turn for two years, Eveld — whose brother, Bobby, is USF’s backup QB — is poised for a prolific breakout. Slightly shorter but more mobile than his 6-6 sibling, he won the accuracy challenge at the prestigious Orlando Elite 11 in March. He’ll benefit from having the bay area’s top receiving corps.
Comment: “Right now he’s grasping the offense pretty well. He’s got a pretty good handle on what we’re trying to get accomplished. He’s improving on his decision making, but we’re continuing to emphasize the mechanics and attention to detail that’s going to be necessary to lead this ball club.” — Tigers coach James Harrell
Darryl Richardson, Jr., Armwood
Size: 6-5, 215
At a glance: The best arm we’ve seen so far this spring. A backup last season in Tampa Bay Tech’s ground-oriented offense, Richardson arrived at the ’Wood with few bad habits because, Hawks coaches say, he never really threw at his old school.
Comment: “He improves every single rep he takes. Our first day we threw the ball probably like, 75 times. … He probably threw the ball more times in that one practice than he did in two years at Tampa Bay Tech. So every single time he gets better and better, and he’s understanding coverages.” — Armwood offensive coordinator Evan Davis
Chase Litton, So., Wharton
Size: 6-5, 185
At a glance: Litton, who doubles as a low-post standout for the Wildcats’ basketball team, threw for 376 yards and five TDs in Wharton’s final two games last season. He needs to learn the position’s nuances and fill out a bit physically, but the arm and athleticism are there. So are four of Wharton’s five starting offensive linemen from 2010.
Comment: “He’s developing. He’s still got a lot of stuff to do, he’s still got a lot of things to learn: being patient, learning how to check his checkdown routes … but he’s picking it up. He’s a young kid, so he’s got a lot of room to grow. He’s still a little green.” — Wharton coach David Mitchell
‘No-way’ number of the day: 31
Repetitions of 185 pounds that Jesuit RT Robbie Gibbons bench-pressed at a recent scouting combine at Armwood, according to Tigers OL coach Brian McNulty. Gibbons started every game last season as a sophomore.
“That job is wide open. It’s almost like Thanksgiving, everybody’s giving it away.” — coach David Mitchell on the battle for Wharton’s tailback job vacated by graduating seniors David Larry and Jon Mahan, who teamed for more than 1,300 yards in 2010
What they’re saying
Every day, we pose a question to our readers on our Facebook page. They’re keen to offer their two cents … and we’re printing the best response.
Monday’s question: A lot of talented football players are graduating this month. Who’s the toughest to replace and who will pick up the slack?
• James Grindey, a 15-year-old freshman from (Tarpon Springs), is taking over the strong side for Georgia recruit Zach DeBell. James (250, 6-3) … eats, sleeps and drinks (a lot) football. He’s working on his strength daily. Go, Spongers! — Brian Robert Grindey
Next up: Which team that was down on its luck in 2010 will bounce back with a winning record this season?
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