LB, JACKSONVILLE FIRST COAST
MIDDLE LINEBACKER SHERROD Pittman takes it as a personal affront whenever a running back dares invade his patch of turf.
“If a guy runs my way,” Pittman said, “I feel
like he’s trying me.”
Suffice to say, Pittman, a 6-foot- 1, 224-pound
senior for Jacksonville’s First Coast, wins most
of those confrontations, and he usually does so
with a loud thud.
Pittman had 107 tackles, two fumble recoveries and 3. 5 sacks last season, and he got the attention of numerous colleges before committing
to South Carolina. Pittman, a four-star recruit, is
more than just a hitter. He showed his athleticism last season when he intercepted two passes and took both of them back for touchdowns.
The first pick came in a 59-0 win over Jack-
sonville Jackson. Pittman took it back 60 yards.
“When the quarterback threw, I broke on the
ball,” said Pittman, who has a 3.0 GPA and is in-
terested in becoming an agent after his playing
days. “I caught the ball clean and the [offensive
lineman] tried to catch me, but I burned him.”
Pittman’s second pick was even better –
more spectacular and more important because
it came in a 28-10 regional quarterfinal win
over Lake Brantley. This time, Pittman took it
back an impressive 92 yards.
“One of my teammates tipped it, and I just
First Coast followed that game with a 35-16
grabbed it,” Pittman said when asked to recall
the play. “There was a running back, but I just left
him. Two [offensive] linemen tried to tackle me,
but I faked them and they fell. The quarterback
came over and I juked him to the ground, too.”
The only player left to beat was a wide re-
ceiver. Pittman broke the tackle and scored.
playoff win over Lake Mary. But Apopka ended
First Coast’s season in the Class 8A regional
finals with a 42-20 victory.
First Coast finished 11-2 and is 21-3 over the
past two seasons. But a state title is still on Pit-
tman’s to-do list before he heads off to college.
Pittman said he can hardly wait.
“I felt at home when I visited South Carolina
and I want to play in the SEC,” he said. “[Plus],
I feel like I was born to play linebacker. That’s
& Darion Staton
DBs, LAKE WALES
TAVARIS JOHNSON IS IN HIS FIRST year as the Lake Wales head coach, but, in many ways, he’s the perfect person to talk about safety Marcus
Walker and cornerback Darion Staton.
In his previous position as Lake Wales’ defensive backs coach, Johnson tutored Walker
and Staton; and he cautions anyone from
overlooking either of his senior stars, who
also play some at wide receiver.
“Marcus has more [college] offers, but I
He has a 3. 8 GPA and plans to study physi-
wouldn’t rate one above the other – they are
both elite players,” Johnson said. “When you
watch our games, you will know who they are.
You won’t need a roster – they stand out.”
Walker, who is 6-foot- 1 ½ and 183 pounds,
runs a 4. 52 in the 40-yard dash and has
more than 20 offers.
cal therapy or sports medicine.
Walker had a phenomenal season in
2013, intercepting six passes despite missing seven games due to a broken ankle. He
had five of his picks in a four-game playoff
run that landed Lake Wales in the Class 5A
state semifinals, where it lost to eventual
champion American Heritage.
“It comes from studying film,” Walker said
“He sees the field so well,” Johnson said.
of his picks. “I pretty much know what [op-
ponents are] going to do because I watch the
Johnson said Walker has the range to
cover deep and the force to deliver a big hit.
“He’s like an eagle going to get that fish.
When the ball is in the air, there’s no doubt
it’s his football.”
Staton, a 5-foot- 11, 160-pounder with
4.43-second speed and a 3.0 GPA, has offers
from Central Florida, Toledo, FIU, Marshall
and Florida Atlantic, and those schools also
want Walker. The two have been best friends
since they played AAU basketball together in
the sixth grade.
“We think alike and we clicked right away,”
Staton said of his friendship with Walker. “He
keeps me out of trouble and I keep him out
Staton, who had two interceptions last
season and eight for his career, said he
wants to study physical therapy, and Johnson
thinks it would be a “blessing” if the duo
sticks together for college.
“Darion is a lock-down cornerback,” Johnson said. “He is a track guy and the type of
kid who can soar over everyone and dunk
a basketball. Both of those kids have contributed a lot and helped make us a great