WILL DEFENSE CARRY COLUMBIA TO STATE TITLE?
LAST YEAR, THERE WAS AN OFFENSIVE PLAYER THAT DREW national attention to Lake City’s Columbia High School. This year, there’s a defensive player at the same school that has garnered interest. Former Tiger Laremy Tunsil, who was considered the nation’s top offensive tackle, signed with Ole Miss in February. His former
teammate, Trey Marshall, is a first-team All-State safety prospect whose
stock continues to rise.
Marshall finished the 2012 season with 100 tackles and three interceptions in leading Columbia ( 11-2) to the 6A regional finals.
“He’s a great student-athlete that will play college ball in two years,”
said head coach Brian Allen, a former FSU linebacker who is entering his
third season at Columbia. “The sky will be the limit if he stays healthy.”
The 3-star recruit is one of six returning starters on defense, which is
why Marshall “expects” his team to play for a state title.
“We definitely have the defense,” he said. “Defense wins championships.”
Columbia has had its season cut short the past two postseasons in the
final seconds. The Tigers lost to Navarre, 28-21, in the third round last
year after an interception with 26 seconds left sealed their fate. In 2011,
they got beat by Bartram Trail on a last-second field goal, 27-24.
Marshall claims the painful memories motivate him.
“We’ve had two heartbreakers [the past two years] and it’s always good
to have that in the back of your mind when you’re working,” he said.
Earlier this year, Marshall attended Florida State’s junior day and received an offer. He’ll be playing football on Saturdays in the fall of 2014.
But first he’ll try and get Columbia to Orlando, and with all of the defensive
backs returning, Marshall believes the Tigers have a complete defense.
“We always stop the run, but we believe we can stop the pass now,” he
concluded. – Mike Ridaught
‘MINOR SETBACK FOR A MAJOR COMEBACK’
EVERY NOW AND THEN, QUARTER- back D.J. Gillins posts this phrase on his Twitter feed to remind everyone that he’s still around and better than
ever: “Minor setback for a major comeback.”
It wasn’t always that easy for the Jacksonville
Ribault senior to be so optimistic.
Gillins had his best season in 2011 at Jacksonville Eagle’s View Academy, passing for 31 touchdowns and planting himself firmly on the radar of
college football coaches across the country.
And just like that, it happened.
Gillins tore both the ACL and meniscus in his
knee just five minutes into the Warriors’ season
opener. The four-star prospect (rated No. 103
in the country by Rivals) and one-time Texas
Tech commitment spent the next five months
after surgery rehabbing his injuries and gained
a whole new mindset.
“I learned not to take things for granted,”
said Gillins, a 6-3, 185-pound dual-threat
player. “When I sat out, I learned how much I
loved football. Every time my team lost, I pretty
much cried. I know I’ve got to work hard and
stay focused. [Sitting out] I learned how to visu-
alize things before they even happened.”
Gillins’ transfer to Ribault in March only made
his return that much more anticipated. In ad-
dition to playing in a higher classification (the
Trojans are in Class 5A, the Warriors in 2A), Gil-
lins gives Ribault one of its most explosive and
high-profile players in years.
“Right now in the time I’ve been around him,
he’s thrown the ball very accurately, shown
some great leadership skills and communicated very well with me,” said Ribault coach
Anthony Flynn. “I think he’ll be a perfect fit. It’s
a different caliber of ball, but it’s a great stage
for him to be on to show what he can do.”
– Justin Barney