Former Bradenton Prep quarterback Zach Hammond recently enrolled at Charlotte High in Punta Gorda and is in a battle for the starting QB job.
The 6-foot-3, 175-pound junior joins a team that is loaded with talent and features Mike Bellamy, a Clemson commit who is rated one of the top running backs in the country.
Tarpons head coach Binky Waldrop said after the first week of practice the quarterback job is up for grabs between Hammond and junior Robert Kubond (6-2, 180), who led the JV team to an undefeated season last year.
“I haven’t seen enough of Hammond in only one week to make a judgment, and he is in the process of learning our offense,” Waldrop said. “He moved down here and enrolled in our school about two weeks ago. It all happened so fast and unexpectedly. He and the other boy are taking equal amount of reps, and we will see what happens.”
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The Tarpons run a Wing-T offense, which they like to throw out of, but the big weapon is Bellamy, who ran for 2,153 yardsand 31 touchdowns last season. Charlotte put the ball in the air a lot with graduated Kyle Midget throwing for more than 2,000 yards and 25 TDs.
The Tarpons return USF-bound receiver Alex Mut, who led the team with 58 catches and 1,014 reception yards last year and was second with 15 touchdowns. Charlotte plays in Class 4A-District 11 with Lakewood Ranch, Palmetto and Port Charlotte.
Waldrop said Zach’s father, Joe Hammond, the former head football coach at Bradenton Prep, will not be on his staff, contrary to rumors.
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Tampa Plant running back James Wilder Jr. is supposed to announce his college choice Wednesday, which should make things clearer for Manatee High’s Mike Blakely.
Blakely recently put Florida at the top of his list, but it came with an asterisk saying he wanted a school that was going to give him a lot of carries.
The Gators running back corps already looks like Grand Central Station at rush hour, and with Wilder reportedly leaning toward Gainesville, Blakely might want to look in another direction.
Ironically, the best place for the 5-11, 190-pound back could be right in his own backyard at USF.
Granted, the Bulls don’t have the glamour of a Florida or Florida State, but this team is clamoring for a high-caliber running back. With the recent losses of Mike Ford and Jamar Taylor, everyone else remaining falls into the “serviceable” category, and there is nothing to speak of on the horizon.
New USF head coach Skip Holtz coached Chris Johnson at non-BCS East Carolina, and he went over 2,000 yards rushing for the Tennessee Titans last year to lead the NFL in only his second year in the league.
Listed at 5-11 and 191 pounds, Johnson is one pound off from being the exact same size as Blakely, which adds to the intrigue.
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Linebacker Kyle Riley-Hawkins, who figured to be the backbone of the Lakewood Ranch defense this year, will miss his entire senior year because of a torn pectoral, according to Mustangs head coach Shawn Trent.
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There has been some player movement during the off season, but no one seems to be busier than Myles Johnson, the former Bradenton Christian quarterback. After quarterbacking the Venice High football team in the spring, the sophomore left and is now at Southeast High, where he is expected to play linebacker. ... Venice is set at quarterback with ex-Cardinal Mooney signal caller Grant Flessner, who was unable to play in the spring game because of transfer rules.
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Western Kentucky head coach Willie Taggart said he doesn’t want to have any of his players thinking redshirt as they go through fall practice. To make his point, Taggart notified former Palmetto high receiver Donald Campbell that he will be eligible to play this season if he proves worthy.
It all goes along with Taggart’s desire to have everybody fighting for a starting position, a philosophy he adopted back in his playing days at Manatee High. Right now, former Braden River receiver Willie McNeal is listed as a starter for WKU.
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Kudos to former Southeast High standout Terron Sanders, who is entering his senior year as a starting defensive tackle at Florida.
While many coaches, led by Alabama’s Nick Saban, were blaming “unscrupulous” NFL agents for this latest flap of college players having improper contact or taking money from them, Sanders put the blame where a lot of people think it should be — on the players.
“Everybody who’s here about business knows to stay away from them,” Sanders told the Associated Press. “We feel like anybody who wants to go off the road, veer off the path that we’re on, they don’t really want to be here. We addressed it, we left it at that, and that’s how it’s going to be.”