At 5-feet-9, 145 pounds, Seffner Christian senior quarterback Tanner Richardson doesn't have the physical stature most people expect in a high school football player, but what he lacks in size is more than made up in athletic ability.
The Crusaders, who are starting the second year of their varsity football program, were 2-7 last season.
"Our No. 1 quarterback was injured in preseason and was out for the year," said Seffner coach Steve Lewis. "Tanner was our No. 2 quarterback. He's just a natural athlete and is better than average. The soccer and baseball coaches are (also) happy to have him."
Richardson, who is 17, is a relative newcomer to the gridiron. His best sport was soccer prior to strapping on football gear for the first time in a longtime last season.
"I played football when I was nine or 10 years old, but didn't play since than," Richardson said. "I didn't know what to expect in high school, but I knew how to play the game. It's a small school so I thought I'd try it out."
Richardson's "tryout" proved to be very successful. He passed for eight touchdowns, scored 11 TDs (including a 60-yard kickoff return), converted 14 extra-point attempts and one field goal last season.
"He's a gamer and he's plenty tough," said Lewis. "He's very elusive and has good instincts to escape people. Tanner shows good leadership ability. He opens his mouth to lead when he has to."
The personable Richardson understood the challenge he faced to successfully lead the team.
"Playing quarterback is not hard," he said. "The most difficult thing is when the team is tired and you have to stand up and be the guy who motivates them to play hard."
Richardson's athleticism extends to the defensive side of the ball.
"I started playing cornerback and running back, but when our quarterback got hurt I got the job," Richardson said. "I enjoy defense a lot. I played a little safety and enjoyed that more (than cornerback). I like being involved in every play."
Richardson hopes to continue his football career after graduating from high school. "Football is very fun and I enjoy it a lot," he said. "I'd like to have a shot at small college ball. That would be great."