Here in Pasco County, we have 14 schools that have a varsity football team, and throughout the county, the talent is spread wide across the land. From Dade City through Wesley Chapel and Land O' Lakes and out west through Trinity and New Port Richey and even down to Holiday, there are athletes at every school. What we've done is find a solid representative from each part of the county: from the east, central and west side of the county.
So if you were picking a best player from this trio, who would you vote for? Who would you choose if you were starting your own high school football team and needed someone who had mad skills, smarts and, most importantly, the leadership ability to put a team on his back and carry it to victory?
In their own words, we'll let our three candidates for "Mr. Pasco County Football 2012" tell you in their own words why you should pick them for that title. And then we'll let you vote for your favorite candidate in an online poll on TBO.com before the start of the season.
CANDIDATE: Janarion Grant
POSITION: Athlete/Wide receiver/defensive back/returner
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 5-10/165 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: Pasco
COLLEGE CHOICE: Undecided (12 offers): Ball St., Connecticut, East Carolina, Indiana, Iowa St., UMass, Middle Tenn. St., Rutgers, Texas Tech, USF, West Virginia, W. Kentucky
PERFORMANCE SPECS: 40-yard dash: 4.3 seconds
2011 STATS: Offense: 59 carries, 443 yards, 4 TDs; 53 receptions, 1,066 yards, 14 TDs; Defense: 17 tackles, 102-yard INT return against Jesuit in reg. final, 8 PDs; Special TEAMS: 4 return TDs, 421 return yards, 2 conversions
SCOUTS/COACHES SAY: Speed and dynamic ability. Grant has been called one of the most talented football players in the area to take the field. That's because he has the uncanny ability to know exactly where the other 11 opposing players are. His outstanding speed is best showcased when returning punts and kickoffs, however, there's not a team brave enough to consistently kick to him. Grant is so athletically talented -- he's also back-to-back state champion at long jump -- that he can play any offensive position, including a left-handed wildcat quarterback that leaves defenses scratching their heads on QB draws. He may not be a shut down cornerback, however, some college scouts have mentioned he'd make a great safety at the next level. If he has one drawback, it could be that Grant has a hard time keeping his weight up.
WHY VOTE FOR ME: I'm a captain on the team this year, and to be a captain, you have to have dedication and heart and make sure your team doesn't fail and then make sure you don't fail while you're being a captain. You have to go and make sure that everyone is doing right. I'm the type of captain that doesn't really show or tell you how to do it, just does it. I'm close with the guys -- I hang out with them, play video games. I'm not the guy who's going to tell them what to do. I just do what I do and, if people like it, then that's what I'll go with. It's why I wear those (camouflage leggings) when it get cold. I did it once just to do it, but it's just how I express me. You can say it's my thing from Dade City and Lacoochee, but is how I do. I may not tell many on what I would do, I'd just do it. I would tell them I would be a leader, but, say if I ran for class president, I wouldn't want to give speeches or anything like that. People know who I am -- that's cool since I play football and do track, but if they want to vote for me, I'll take it. I know that when I do what I do, I won't let them down.
CANDIDATE: Eddie Burgos
POSITION: Cornerback/wide receiver/tailback/returner
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 5-11/175 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: Sunlake
COLLEGE CHOICE: Undecided; Georgia Southern, Furman and The Citadel have shown interest.
PERFORMANCE SPECS: 40-yard dash: 4.5 seconds
2011 STATS: Offense: 22 receptions, 369 yards, 5 TD; Defense: 37 tackles, INT, 10 PDs, blocked FG; Special Teams: 138 punt return yards
SCOUTS/COACHES SAY: Burgos, for a couple of seasons now, has been Sunlake's shut down corner, who has taken on a team's top receiver and allowed next to nothing. Last season, he was pitted against three Division I receivers and kept them in check. Burgos is fast and strong, but his acceleration stands out and has the Seahawks looking to use him out of the backfield some and even more as a return man. Even though Burgos excels at cornerback, he has great hands as a receiver. In just the past season, he's put on nearly 20 pounds of muscle and many have said he might make a good strong safety at the next level because he doesn't have the great hips of a college cornerback. However, Burgos has been working on his hip action this offseason.
WHY VOTE FOR ME: I'm a funny guy. Look, if you're having a bad day or not feeling great, I know I can make you laugh. You have to make a joke about it. Sure, some people may have good hair or something, but I got the jokes. But you have to know when to be serious, too. I don't necessarily do it on the bus (going to games), but sometimes I'll do it to break the ice. … OK, maybe I've got a little something something when it comes to my hair. Plus, I'm a pretty good-looking candidate. That's what you want, right? You want your candidate to be decent to look at (laughs). I know I can be a leader, but I'll do it by bringing a little something something, by making a joke. I do it for my weightlifting and track teams, plus I help out with the 2013 Club, which helps set up Homecoming and Prom and does volunteer work around, too … but, I'm probably going to be Homecoming King (laughs). And I'd make a good candidate because I get us together. We keep the team together as a brotherhood, we all go out to eat — hitting up CiCi's and grub it up there. The offensive linemen will be having a competition, stacking up the breadsticks, so I've got to moderate that sometimes (laughs). That's what would make me a good candidate: a handsome leader, keeping all my guys in check.
CANDIDATE: Willie Barrett
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-0/190 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: Anclote
COLLEGE CHOICE: Undecided; Arkansas, Jacksonville St. and Georgia Southern have shown interest.
PERFORMANCE SPECS: 40-yard dash: 4.6 seconds
2011 STATS: Offense: 480 total yards, 7 total TD; Defense: 46 tackles, 75-yard INT return TD
SCOUTS/COACHES SAY: His physical prowess makes him a powerful back that plays fullback, but has tailback speed. He's likened to the Chicago Bears' Matt Forte, in which he'll put his head down and plow through the line instead of trying to go from sideline to sideline. The Sharks take advantage of having a deep backfield and run an I-formation offense that allows Barrett get the ball and barrel through linebackers and take four or five hits before going down. His toughness has limitless potential being just a junior, plus it extends at playing outside linebacker. Barrett has been a varsity player since a freshman, so his football knowledge is through the roof, helped out by a 3.0 GPA. He understands both sides of the ball well, making him a better player at his two positions. Barrett is poised for a break-out year by coming in and knowing the team and its offense well. Now, he can just relax and mature into one of the county's top football players.
WHY VOTE FOR ME: If you ever are hungry, then you can come to me and I always have food. All kinds of food. I have crackers and Fruit Roll Ups, chips, cookies, Gatorade -- whatever you want, I've got. I don't mind sharing. It's not a bribe, but you can have one without a vote. It's just I'm the one who always has the food (laughs). … We can go fishing, too. I love to go fishing. We've got a boat and my friends and I go out and catch everything. I once caught a 43-inch redfish, plus I've also brought in snapper, snook and trout. Think of me as the laid-back guy you can go out in the country and have a nice fishing trip with. I always seem to catch something, so you wouldn't leave empty handed. … Look, I may not be the fastest guy on the field, or even the most vocal. I'm about about being an example for what to do. I'm not the person that will go and talk to someone because it's really about that person's state of mind. I think that usually an example is better than words.