RECRUITING: Stirrups Readying For The SAT

Despite playing four quality teams who will be in the FHSAA state playoffs, the Tampa Hillsborough High School (7-0) defense has held their opponents to a paltry 13.6 points per game average. Leslie Stirrups is one big factor as to why points are hard to come by against the Terriers.

(See Leslie Stirrups profile)

Stirrups (6-4, 275), who is rated three stars by, has been an imposing factor while lining up at defensive tackle, defensive end, and linebacker. He was outstanding in the biggest game in the Tampa Bay area this season, when the Terriers handed Armwood their first loss in two years, 21-20.

"We went into that game hearing a lot about Armwood," Stirrups said. "Yeah, they have been the state champs, but we've been a state playoff team, and we knew that we could do the job if we took care of our own business."

Hillsborough and Stirrups did just that. The Terriers remain unbeaten and have taken a firm grasp as the second ranked team in Class 4A. Only winless Tampa Bay Tech and 5-2 Freedom High School remain in Hillsborough's path for a district title.

Stirrups is the third leading tackler on a talented Terrier team with 22.5 tackles, including three tackles for loss and four sacks.

"We have a lot of sayings," he said. "Things to help motivate us. Minor mistakes have kept us from making it to the state championship game. We've cost ourselves the chance to be champions."

Hillsborough was 11-0 when they lost a Class 5A quarter-finals game 40-20 to eventual state champion Lakeland last season. It's obvious that Stirrups and his teammates take the business approach. He is also taking that same route when it comes to recruiting.

"Right now, Miami, Florida State, USF, Georgia, and Tennessee are my top five," Stirrups said. "I haven't received an offer from Miami. They're waiting for my test scores. I have to take the SAT. I've never taken it before, so I think a lot of schools are waiting to see how I do on the test first."

Another one of those schools would appear to be the University of Florida.

"I get a lot of mail from them," he said. "I like them. They're a possibility for me. They call every once in a blue moon. I do think that they're waiting on my scores too. I have a 2.4 (GPA) and have been working with a tutor Monday through Thursday on math skills. I have to work hard to get the grade, and I'm willing to do that."

Stirrups dropped from just over 300 pounds to 275 before the season began so that he would have an advantage in speed and quickness on the field. Hopefully, his persistence in the classroom will pay off with a solid test score.

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