Bruce Gifford couldn't believe his eyes. Play after play, that same mystery kid flew to the football from his safety position and delivered a crushing blow on the ball carrier. It was, Gifford thought, as if the kid had played the position his whole life.
Riverview High's coach had seen enough. The only thing left was to find out who that mystery kid was. But when his assistants shouted back the name, Gifford couldn't believe his ears.
It was Jamin Vereen.
"I certainly didn't expect it to be Jamin," said Gifford, noting he still remembers when Vereen entered the program as a freshman.
He was a lanky, skinny kid who had pretty good speed, and Gifford thought he might one day evolve into a serviceable wideout.
Instead, Vereen had found a new home.
As Gifford continued to watch during that team scrimmage nearly two years ago, he could think only of how fortunate he was to have watched a hidden gem unearth itself right before his eyes.
"I said, 'Man, that kid is going to be something,'" Gifford recalled.
And the coach believes Vereen has stayed right on that track.
He'll enter his senior year as the leader of the Sharks secondary after a solid 2009 season in which he had 40 tackles and an interception. Considering that Vereen had never played organized football before high school, it has been quite an ascension.
"I'm comfortable out there," said Vereen, whose exploits in youth sports were in soccer. "I think I'm still getting better, progressing."
The best thing in Vereen's game is his speed. He clocked a 4.35-second time in the 40-yard dash at a recent Nike Combine, according to Gifford, and is by far the fastest player on Riverview's roster.
"He's got great cover skills, but he'll run down the alley for you and play run support. He's not afraid to mix it up," Gifford said. "We can put him on the offensive side, play him at wide receiver and throw to him. We can put him at running back. He's our punter. He can do kickoff returns. He's just an athletic kid."
"I feel like I can play any position," Vereen added. "I know I'll do my best."
STADIUM: J. Vince Thompson Stadium, 11311 Boyette Road, Riverview
CLASS-DISTRICT: 5A-6 (with Bloomingdale, Durant, Newsome and Plant City)
COACH: Bruce Gifford (5-14, third season)
LAST SEASON: 3-6
Sept. 3: at Freedom
Sept. 10: Tampa Bay Tech
Sept. 16: at Lennard
Sept. 24: at Plant
Oct. 1: Spoto
Oct. 8: at Durant
Oct. 15: East Bay
Oct. 22: Plant City
Oct. 29: Newsome
Nov. 5: at Bloomingdale
No.NamePos.Ht.Wt.Yr.2Bryson RogersQB/DB5-9165Sr.3Lasander WashingtonRB5-8150So.5Daryl GibsonDB5-10180Jr.6Jarrod EdwardsDB5-6155Sr.7Logan NorrisDE/TE6-4260Sr.8Steven MainesWR5-11175Jr.9Jyrale SimsDB5-9165Sr.11Jamal MilesTE/DE6-3215So.16Derrick SheriffQB6-3165Jr.21Chase McCoyRB5-10180So.22PJ MullingsRB5-9160Sr.23Jamin VereenDB/WR6-2190Sr.24Miles MarshallDE/TE6-2185Jr.25Drake PickfordFB/LB6-1215Sr.26Jarrett LawsonDB5-10160Sr.31Steven AwonohopayLB5-10175Jr.32Ladarian StevensonRB/LB5-11185Jr.33Chyrle WilliamsDB5-9175Sr.34Brandon PorterLB5-10185Sr.35Josh ChristianLB5-10190Sr.41Qwantavius MaysFB/LB5-10175Jr.42Jeffrey WilliamsDL6-1245Jr.44Tyrell ByrdLB6-1205Sr.45Spencer OdellLB/DE6-0205Jr.50Darrell ChildressOL/DE6-2225Sr.52Chase CicaleDE/OL6-2215Sr.54Shores MorganOL/DL6-0240Sr.55Sean ShapiroLB6-0220Jr.56Justin TewOL6-2255Sr.60Cole UngererOL6-2270Sr.63Tanner AlfordDT5-11215Jr.65Antonio BrownDL/OL6-0240So.66Kyle LancasterOL6-4225Jr.67Bryant StoreyOL6-2260Sr.68Alex WolstenholmDL/OL6-2225Jr.70Dylan DiehlOL6-2280Jr.71Mark SmithOL6-4285Jr.78Morgan BoisenOL6-3235Jr.79Christian OvallesOL6-3230Jr.88Marcus LillyWR6-3180Sr.90Ryan O'HaraDL/OL6-3265Jr.