DRUMMER IN THE SPOTLIGHT

At North Salinas High this fall, its Drummer will be the star. And running back Ronnie Drummer has the kind of speed that is music to the ears of college coaches.

Everyone in football knows the phrase, "Speed kills." But what about, "Speed calls?" That could be the term for what happens when certain times in the 40-yard dash or certain times from the track get widely reported. The athlete who turned in those times starts hearing that phone ring frequently from college coaches.

Such was the case last spring for North Salinas sprinter/running back Ronnie Drummer. The 5-9, 170-pound blur was receiving mail before last May, based on his quickness and on the nearly 1,200 yards he piled up for the Vikings the previous fall. Then came the Nike Training Camp at Stanford. Drummer snapped off a 4.34 time in the 40 and in drills he ooked to be perhaps the quickest kid out of nearly 600 attendees.

"Before that (Nike camp), I was getting letters, but after that colleges saw all the times we ran and I started getting a lot more calls," Drummer said.

Next up was the conclusion of the track season. Drummer went to the CIF state finals at Cerritos College as a dark-horse, but emerged as a placer in two events and stamped himself as one of the nation's top sprinters for 2004. He placed fourth in the 100-meter dash final with a clocking of 10.70 and in the 200 did even better with a second-place showing and a 21.16 time.

Again, the speed calls came, but this time Drummer said more from track coaches were being made.

"I did surprise myself with how I placed (at the state meet)," Drummer said. "I was real excited after the 100 and I didn't think I'd do too well in the 200. Now, all I can think about is next year."

The upcoming football season also is on his mind a lot, too, especially since North Salinas missed earning a spot in the CIF Central Coast Section by one qualifying point. The Vikings play in the same league as powerhouse Palma and defending champ Salinas isn't going to want to give away its title quite so easily, either.

Drummer said some college track coaches wanted him to make a commitment during the summer, but his preference is to go for both sports at the next level. He didn't have as many football offers he was considering and didn't say if he had any favorites or not.

North Salinas is the same school that in the early 1990s featured speedy twins Calvin and Alvin Harrison. They went on to become two of the fastest 400-meter runners in the world. The Vikings also have had runningbacks like Anthony Toney and Del Rodgers who've both made it to the NFL. For Drummer to get to that level, the speed is there, but he knows he'll have to get much stronger.

"I know you can't always burn people to the corner," he said. "You have run through them sometimes, too. That's why I'm focusing so much now on my strength."

Drummer knows that the speed calls have come, but that the strength-speed calls are even better. They result in a lot more actual major college scholarship offers.


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