Shark Tale

What began as a routine deep sea fishing trip for red snapper off the Florida Panhandle coast last week turned into a once in a lifetime experience for Arkansas State Co-Offensive Coordinator Eli Drinkwitz.

Drinkwitz and a couple of buddies boarded a small 21-foot fishing boat at Navarre, near Fort Walton Beach, on Wednesday, June 26, and headed approximately ten miles off the coastline with the intent of taking a few snappers. A few hours later as the trip was winding down, "Drink" felt a sudden jolt at the other end of his fishing line. He knew right away he probably had something other than another snapper, but what he didnt' realize at the time was, he'd just hooked a 10-foot long bull shark. What ensued was a 20-minute battle of man vs. beast that was captured on video by one of the Alma native's fellow fishermen, who happened to be armed with an underwater camera.

"I had no idea at first that I'd caught a shark. We'd had a pretty nice day catching red snapper when I felt what appeared to be something pretty strong hit my line, but I didn't expect a shark," Drinkwitz said today on AstAteNation Radio on KNEA. "I think I was in a state of shock for a while...I actually reached out to touch it twice after I got him in close to the boat."

The unique video, nearly three minutes in length, shows underwater views of the shark as Drinkwitz reels it in, as well as above water angles from the deck of the boat. Because of the size of the shark and the obvious risks involved, the coach was convinced by his fishing buddies that it wasn't in their best interest to try to land the animal in the small boat. "At first I said 'Let's get that thing in the boat,' but they were'n't having any part of that!" Drinkwitz said with a laugh. "We just ended up cutting the line, because obviously I wasn't about to stick my hand in his mouth to free the hook." He said he's looking into getting a replica mount of the shark made for his office.

Like a good soldier, Drinkwitz was armed in full A-stAte gear for the experience, prepared for the harsh Florida sun in a stAte slouch hat and long-sleeved red stAte t-shirt. "I always wear A-State stuff wherever I go," he said. "Anytime I can try to get that brand out there I'm all over it, because I'm proud of this program and what we've accomplished here."

Randy Myers is the co-host of AstAteNation Radio. The program airs Monday-Friday from 11-1 on The Ticket 970am/95.3fm and on the web at