2010 Intro: William Griffith & Corey Robinson

HAVELOCK, N.C. --- In just his first season as head coach, Jim Bob Bryant turned Havelock High into an eight-win team that challenged for the Coastal Conference Title. Bryant was aided by an influx of talent from the junior varsity team, including William Griffith and Corey Robinson.

"[Previous coach Charlie Smith] did me a favor by leaving all the sophomores down on JV so they could get a taste of winning," Bryant said. "All of them could have played on the varsity… It helped me – they had that little winning attitude when I got them."

While Havelock High went a combined 6-16 in the two seasons prior to Bryant's arrival, the junior varsity squad won back-to-back conference titles while posting an 18-2 record during the same time frame.

Shortly after arriving, Bryant installed his spread offense. Griffith, a 6-foot, 180-pounder, was featured at the H-back position within that offense.

"We'd go four and five wide receivers and [Griffith] would be in the slot," Bryant said. "We'd put him in full speed in motion [and] give him the ball on jet sweeps and give him the ball on reverses. [We'd] short motion him to the backfield and run some inside runs with him.

"He was versatile enough that he can run the ball or catch down the field. He was probably our best breakaway threat, as a receiver. But he was really a tailback playing a receiver role."

Griffith ended the season with 318 yards and five touchdowns on 36 rushes. He also caught 18 passes for 280 yards and three scores.

Griffith will move to tailback this season and Havelock's offense will be slightly tweaked.

"We're going to change the offense a little bit to fit what we have in the backfield," Bryant said. "[Last year's starter] Mike Henderson was a great inside runner and Williams [is] good on the edges.

"Last year, because of [Griffith's] unique skills as an athlete, when we ran the speed sweep or the jet sweep, the H-back would get the ball and the tailback will lead block. This year when we run the speed sweep, we're going to go empty and we're going to put the tailback in the slot, and we're going to run the speed sweep with the tailback, instead of the H-back. We'll definitely use William a lot more offensively than what we did last year."

Last year, only two players started both ways for Havelock. Griffith, who also starts at cornerback, was one of them.

"We usually lined [Griffith] up on the best receiver from the other team," Bryant said.

Matching up against the opponents' best receivers meant Griffith shadowed North Carolina signee Erik Highsmith in one game and East Caroina signee Mike Price in another, last season.

Havelock's defense played a lot of zone coverage last fall. With so much experience returning – the entire team loses just three starters – the defense will play more man coverage this season.

On the season a year ago, Griffith recorded 53 tackles and four interceptions.

Bryant believes Griffith will be signed as an athlete, but eventually emerge as a cornerback on the collegiate level.

"He has natural ball skills and he can do a lot in a little bit of space," Bryant said. "He has great instincts on defense. Defensive back-wise, he's a great combination of size and speed – he's 6-foot, 180 pounds and runs a 4.4 [forty]. He's really tenacious – he doesn't mind coming up and hitting somebody."

Despite his 6-foot-7, 295-pound frame, Robinson starts at guard on Havelock's offensive line.

"We want big guys as guards and we want athletic kids at tackle, because the only kids that we pull in our offense are our tackles – we don't pull our guards," Bryant said. "Our guards block down and turn out on the nose guard or the one-technique or three-technique."

However, at some point last season, Robinson lined up at all five positions along the line.

"He played some center, he played some tackle – wherever we needed an extra lineman, we knew we could move him because he knew every position," Bryant said. "So if we had somebody hurt, we moved him.

"Corey is the smartest lineman I've ever coached. He picked up on every one of our blocking schemes. Our quarterback calls our blocking schemes at the line and if any of the linemen don't know what to do then Corey will tell them."

Ideally, Bryant would like to limit Robinson's snaps on defense. Last fall, Robinson saw six-to-eight defensive plays a game.

"Because of what we do offensively and defensively, we try to get [our linemen] off the field as much as possible," Bryant said. "So we're hoping we have a couple of sophomores that are going to be able to cover that nose guard position. If not, we know we can use Corey there."

On the collegiate level, Bryant expects Robinson to play tackle.

"He's got long arms so in pass protection he can keep those guys off of him so they can't get into his chest and swim or rip through," Bryant said. "He's 6-7, but he has the wingspan of a kid 6-10. And his hands are huge – when you shake his hand he just swallows your hand. He is a big kid.

"As tall as he is and as big as he is, you would think he would play real high – which is not conducive to being an offensive lineman. For a kid that big to play low is tough, but he does a great job.

"Also, he has great footwork. He's got a frame that he can probably get up to 330 in college and still be able to move. Flexibility on him is good. He's got great hips, which all coaches look for in an offensive lineman. He's got a good worth ethic in the weight room."

For the most part, Griffith and Robinson are being recruited by the same schools – Air Force, Duke, East Carolina, North Carolina, and NC State. Neither player has received a scholarship offer, yet.

"East Carolina, Coach [Vernon] Hargreaves said, they really want both of those kids to come to camp," Bryant said.

Griffith plans to camp at East Carolina, UNC, and NC State. Robinson will like attend camps at Duke and NC State.

Both Griffith and Robinson are looking to stay close to home – probably in-state.

"My mom wants me to stay close," Griffith said. "But I want to be far enough where she's not too close but close enough where if something happens I'm able to hurry up and get home."

Late last month, Griffith and Robinson attended NC State's Junior Day.

"That junior day at NC State really got my attention," Griffith said. "They have a nice campus and a nice football program."

Before the summer, Griffith and Robinson said they plan to make unofficial visits to East Carolina and UNC.

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