Friday Night Lights Returns

HUEYTOWN -- In a town known for its NASCAR heritage, a young sophomore quarterback is on the fast track to stardom. Recruiting analysts far and wide will tell you that the state of Alabama's class of 2012 is loaded, and one big reason is a man with a smoking right arm: Hueytown sophomore Jameis Winston.

Friday Night Lights made its first appearance at Hueytown, and came away impressed with the skills of the young rifleman, in a game that featured first-half fisticuffs, two ejections, and tons of penalties. More on that later.

Last year Jameis Winston started as a freshman at 6-2, 160, and he played in the wing T offense of former coach Mark Smith, who bolted for Walter Welborn in July. Matt Scott took over the Golden Gopher program and brought with him from Spain Park his version of the spread offense. Winston, now 6-3, 180, has picked it just fine.

"He's spent a lot of time with me, one on one," Scott said of his young gun-slinger. "It's a learning process for him. As talented as he is physically and mentally, it's so different for him as far as reading coverages. He's watched a lot of film, and met with me a lot.

"One of the hardest things to teach a quarterback is pocket management. He's looking to be a passer first, and a runner second. He's a very good runner, and he's very talented in all aspects."

The few times he had time to throw, Winston put on quite a show at home Friday night, but his team came up just short, 37-33, to the Shades Valley Mounties. The clock was allowed to tick off 38 seconds without Shades Valley running a play on fourth-and-1. Go figure that one, but Winston brought memories of a young -- dare I say it -- wait for it -- Jamarcus Russell. He finished the night 6-for-13 for 246 yards and a pair of TDs, and ran for 44 net yards on 10 carries (counting sacks) and one score.

Shades Valley coach Curtis Coleman is sold on Winston. "He's just a great athlete, that does a great job with his legs and arm."

Winston throws the ball effortlessly, and can sling it 60-65 yards in the air. He runs a 4.6 forty. He is already on the minds of a multitude of SEC recruiters, including Alabama. To the categories:

WHAT'S UP WITH ANDRE: A quick aside: Coleman coached Cincinnati Bengals' holdout and former Alabama All-America Andre Smith at Huffman High. As far as the holdout, what gives? Said Coleman, "Andre's a great kid, and he's going to do the right thing. Hopefully, he'll kind of pull it together." Coleman says it's been a couple of months since he's spoken to Smith.

SUPER SENIORS: Coleman has a star of his own in senior running back Fabian Truss, who plays much bigger than his listed 5-10, 175. Truss went the distance from 62 yards on the game's first play, and finished the night with 184 yards on 22 carries and a trio of touchdowns.

Hueytown's Chuck Barnes hauled in several deep balls from Winston, but is about 5-6 in height.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: Truss would tell you that a big reason for his success and the overall dominating running game of the Mounties is junior offensive lineman Jabree N'Jemanze (6-3, 265). Coleman, who would know, feels this youngster can develop into an SEC-type play.

Hueytown TE/DE Lane Rosser is tall and caught a short TD. He likes to rush the passer, too.

TOP SOPHS: Hueytown offensive linemen Daniel Melton and Brooks Bedford lead a unit that is pretty good at run-blocking, but will need to improve against the pass-rush for the Gophers to thrive.

FOOTBALL FOODIE: Pre-game meal at Bryant's Seafood was just as greasy as ever. Ah, but the halftime hamburger from the HHS Band Association hit the spot. It was char-grilled perfectly and melted in my mouth. I should have let the band feed me pre-game.

NEXT WEEK: Shelby County travels to Briarwood Christian, which features Bama legacies Caleb Castille and Justin Shade. FNL will try to uncover the future plans of the sons of two ex-Tide defensive backs who play for the venerable Fred Yancey.

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