Talent Fit

Fort Meade High School head coach Mike Hayde has a number of talented players on his roster, but none better than versatile running back Onterio McCalebb.

"We have a lot of good athletes on our team, but Onterio happens to be the best, said Hayde, who has his Fort Meade team primed for a deep playoff run. "We line him up everywhere. "We happen to have another good running back that allows me to put him out wide, and we have some other good receivers, so other teams can't concentrate on just him. We try to spread the wealth out to our players. I could just let him run for a lot of yardage, but we try to keep him fresh for the playoffs."

With a weapon of McCalebb's talent, the temptation would be to overuse him, especially at a smaller school where the numbers aren't as great as the bigger schools in the state. However, Hayde has done a very good job at managing a difficult balancing act – getting his best players on the field as much as possible without burning them out.

"When you are in a small class in Florida, you have to use your best players. But at the same time, I know it can be frustrating for them not to play."

Hayde has certain done a masterful job at getting the most out of his versatile star. McCalebb has lined up at running back, wide receiver, kick returner, cornerback and even safety for Fort Meade. His explosive skills on offense make him a playmaker whenever he touches the ball, and his natural athletic ability allowed him to shine when filling in for an injured teammate on defense.

"I would call him a hybrid back," said Hayde. "He has a lot of skills. He's very fast and elusive. He runs the ball on either the inside and outside zone. He's also an excellent receiver out of the backfield, and he can catch passes at receiver. And on kick returns he is very explosive."

McCalebb established that last as a sophomore, when he set the state record for kickoff return yardage in a championship game.

"He had two 90-yard returns and two or three other long ones. He ended up with almost 300 yards," Hayde said.

McCalebb also has added defensive duties to his repertoire, and is performing there as well. He has played both safety and cornerback this year for the first time, but has done an outstanding job while learning the skills of a new position.

The Fort Meade coach is very optimistic about McCalebb's future as a Mountaineer.

"I think it is a tremendous fit," he said. "I never tell my guys where to go, but his talents and abilities – if you are talking about fitting into a scheme, I couldn't think of a better one than West Virginia. I think they do a phenomenal job coaching their guys as young men. I am familiar with some of the stuff they do. I've met Coach Rodriguez, and I know Rod Smith and Greg Frey from South Florida, and I have known Calvin Magee for more than ten years.

"Rod Smith was tremendous in the recruiting process," he continued. "Calvin Magee was awesome to us when he recruited our school, and Rod Smith was great. Coach Frey coached my current offensive line coach when he was at USF. They have always been great to our players and coaches.

NOTES

McCalebb is termed a "quiet leader" by Hayde.

"He's not a very talkative guy. He's the type of kid that does his job. But he supports his teammates. Friday night, he had about a 50-yard run early, but he tweaked a hamstring, so we held him out, because we didn't want to make it worse. It was frustrating for him, but he was out there supporting his teammates."

"I think he did a good job handling the recruiting process," Hayde added. "All the schools recruiting him were high quality football programs. He has been honest with them throughout the process, and hopefully now he can concentrate on his academics and our chances for the playoffs.

Fort Meade is current 3-0 in its district, and has already defeated one of its chief competitors for the district title. That puts them in a good situation for making the playoffs and making a run at a state title.


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