HIDDEN GEM: Hector Hernandez

There are so many football players in the state of Florida who find a way to fly below the radar screen. On one of our many trips across the state this spring and summer, we will bring you several stories just like this that calling on the phone and sitting home watching film will never uncover! Ladies and gentlemen: Hector Hernandez!

NAPLES - It's a warm spring day, and as I head north on U.S. 41, I come upon Naples Senior High School, where head coach Bill Kramer and his Golden Eagles have redefined the way football is played in Southwest Florida.

You can't go any direction in this beautiful community without being reminded about the success of this football program since Kramer arrived last decade from Hialeah American High. From the local youth football programs to area merchants who still have schedule posters hanging in their windows, the blue and gold is very much alive!.

Before Kramer's arrival, where Tin City meets luxury living, this community was football starved. There was nearby Barron Collier, which enjoyed early 90s success, and of course Lely, where many quality football players have passed through the halls. But before a state championship four years ago, Naples was better known for its quality softball programs and sugar-sandy Gulf beaches.

"I remember when I came to the city back in 1986 to watch Hallandale play against Naples," said FloridaKids.us Publisher Larry Blustein. "All I remember is a speedy Hallandale program racing to a 35-0 lead at the half."

"What happened when Coach Kramer arrived is he changed the perception of the sport and had these kids believing they could compete with anyone in the state," Blustein continued.

With Spencer Adkins and his group of talented seniors getting ready to move on to the next level, we took a trip to Naples on this day to check out the future of the Golden Eagles, and what we found was simply impressive!

The one thing we like to do here at Floridakids.us is uncover a hidden gem. Our recent trip uncovered a budding star in offensive tackle Hector Hernandez. The 6-5, 260-pound left tackle is this year's Division 1A prospect every college will flock to the area to see.

What is most impressive about Hernandez is he has only played three years of organized football. By the midway point of the 2004 season, the Naples coaches found themselves in a bind and inserted Hernandez in the starting lineup. He did not disappoint as he has became a full time starter for their offense in 2005.

"Hector is one of the hardest working guys we have ever had on our team," offensive line coach Paul Horne said. "What also makes him such a good linemen is his wrestling background. It has helped him improve his leverage."

Horne knows a bit about coaching talented linemen. He had the chance to coach against Randy Hand who is now with the Florida Gators, and thinks this young man could "end up just as good."

Sam Dollar, another coach at Naples, also believes that Hernandez has a bright future. He has been surrounded by talent for many years.

"I coached Jonathan Colon over at Miami Central, and I think Hector is every bit as good as he was at this stage of his career," Dollar said. "He just does not have the experience, but as he matures and learns, he will get better and better."

I also had the pleasure of talking to Hernandez about what his strengths were, what he needed to work on and what it was like going against Adkins, who will be headed to the University of Miami in the fall.

"I believe my strength is my ability to help out as a pass blocker," Hernandez pointed out. "I have good footwork, so that helps me out with guys with good speed on the outside."

And, what about Adkins? "Big time football player who combines quickness, strength and talent to beat you," he said. "This guy is the real deal. I look for him to make a solid impact next year."

The things Hernandez would like to improve on are getting bigger, stronger and quicker. He would also like to learn more about playing the position.

When it came to what he would like to accomplish this season, it was easy: "I want to help Coach Kramer win another state championship," Hernandez said. "That has to be the goal of every one on our football team."

COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: Nebraska, Oklahoma, LSU, Florida, West Virginia and Arizona State.

CAMPS: Down & Dirty. Summer wrestling camp.

CURRENT OFFERS: None.

Charles Fishbein is a recruiting analyst for www.floridakids.us. He also writes columns for Scott Kennedy and Scout.com. He has become one of the premier high school football columnists in the nation. Look soon for his 2005 NFL Draft Booklet, which will be released next week. You can contact him at CFishbein@aol.com.

MORE FISHBEIN STORIES:
IMMOKALEE: NICE GUYS DO FINISH FIRST
POMPANO BEACH ELY RUNNING BACKS
IN THE TRENCHES
SOUTH FLORIDA LINEMEN – PART I
SOUTH FLORIDA LINEMEN – PART II
SOUTH FLORIDA LINEMEN – PART III
IN THE HUDDLE – TYLER RICE
IN THE HUDDLE – KENRICK ELLIS
IN THE HUDDLE – EMMANUEL COOK
IN THE HUDDLE – KEVIN HOLLOWAY
PALM BEACH LAKES
PAHOKEE
KICKIN' UP A STORM

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