In terms of state championship game experience for Tampa Catholic, senior lineman Taylor Timmons is becoming a rarity. He is one of two Crusaders players returning this season who started in their last appearance in the title match, the 2009 Class 2B state final against Jacksonville Bolles.
Which is why TC coach Bob Henriquez will be counting on Timmons this fall to show this very young Crusaders squad the type of work and attitude it takes to reach the state championships.
"We're going to be leaning heavily on Taylor this season,'' Henriquez said. "He's such a great example for our underclassmen, especially his work ethic. In fact, he's the kind of player you have to tell him to stop working out because sometimes you find him doing a second workout after finishing ours.''
Timmons says it's something he has grown accustomed to doing. Yes, he was born with certain attributes, including size. But the 6-foot-2, 275-pound Timmons you see now was not so strong, fast or sculpted when he was a freshman. He took what was given to him naturally and, with persistence and patience, worked his way into becoming a Division I recruit who this fall will play both sides of the line.
Patience is something Timmons says he's learned from his parents, as well as favorite pastime, freshwater fishing for bass. And the work ethic he is trying to pass on to the young TC players he learned from those who became through the program before him.
Timmons is the first to remind his teammates that for all his interest from colleges, he has lots of room for improvement. And he's not afraid to admit he didn't start playing football until he was a freshman.
In that short time, however, Timmons has become a standout, earning top defensive lineman honors last summer at the University of Central Florida camp, and rising to a leadership role for TC as it strives for a return to the state finals. To travel the long road to that stage, guys like Timmons will be the ones Henriquez is counting to show the way.
"This is a guy who had remarkable size but someone who essentially had to remake his entire body to become the athlete he is now,'' Henriquez said. "He's the type of player you can always count on and one you are proud to build a team around. He's just a quality person all-around.''