DADE CITY - As the whistle blows and the players were ready to head to their next station, Zach Hermann drove his opponent back three more yards as mud flew up and tempers began to flair. Welcome to the world of a lineman. Welcome to the famed Down ‘N Dirty Football Camp at St. Leo University.
Here is a camp that has long separated the "men from the boys", and while athletes like Hermann and his Tarpon Springs East Lake teammate Zach Mattee are just two of some of the 300 athletes in attendance at this session, they are easily two of the best.
In my never-ending quest to uncover athletes in this state that many either have passed over or haven't noticed at all, I came to this outstanding camp once again this year, looking for those hidden gems. This is where you find out what players have it - or don't. It's that simple.
As you walk around and watch potential offensive and defensive linemen go through various drills that most have never done before, you quickly learn what football players can make it at the next level and those who need to work on getting bigger, quicker and stronger.
While it isn't a game and the athletes are only wearing shoulders pads and a helmet, you can get a better than average sense of what the football player is all about at a camp such as this one.
For Hermann, the 6-3, 310-pounder, who plays on both sides of the ball, this is not the first camp this gifted young man has attended. The three-year starter on coach Bob Hudson's quality football team has already been proclaimed "champion" of the coveted Board Drills at the University of Florida Camp, and then repeated that effort in Orlando at the University of Central Florida Camp.
Mixin' it up at Down 'N Dirty
With outstanding quickness and that mean streak that is often essential, you can tell a whole lot by watching a player like Hermann. His first step is blazing quick. He sets himself in a manner where technique takes over and he is always in position to make things happen on both sides of the ball.
"I would like to work more on my football speed and spend more time perfecting my technique," Hermann explained. "That's what brings me to a camp like this or has me working harder in the weight room and watching extra film."
Even though a number of colleges have watched Hermann on film and spent time during the spring, grading out his every move, his real calling card as a lineman is his work ethic and the way he will NOT give in to his opponent. He will outwork anyone, and that's something that Coach Hudson is impressed with.
"We have had some very good football players at this school, and you can add Zach Hermann to that list," Hudson. "It's no mistake that what ever camp or combine he attends, he is always turning heads."
Zach Mattee is another one of those football players that you watch and learn to really appreciate. This is someone you can tell that just loves the game. He has a body-type more like a tight end or a defensive end, but his future will see him add at least 50 more pounds and end up on some defensive line, using his exceptional foot speed and quickness.
You can tell a lot by just watching and learning about a football player, and it is a pleasure keeping an eye on an emerging talent such as Mattee.
"The thing that I need to continue working on is my footwork and staying low," said Mattee. "I have worked hard in the weight room and getting in shape, so now the only thing that I have to concentrate on is learning and becoming the best football player I can be."
As Hermann and Mattee continued their workouts in the heat of the summer, you can tell that Hudson was impressed. With a number of football players from East Lake at the Down ‘N Dirty event, this is a program on the rise with two linemen who have quickly jumped into the spotlight.
"When you have a pair of quality student/athletes like Zach Hermann and Zach Mattee, your work becomes a lot easier," said Hudson. "I am proud of how hard both have worked to become leaders on and off the football field. They both have set examples in the classroom as well."
THE ZACH HERMANN FILE
SCHOOL: Tarpon Springs East Lake.
40 TIME: 5.4
STRENGTH TEST: 195 - 19 times. Bench: 330.
GRADING OUT IN THE CLASSROOM: 3.0 gpa. 1060 SAT.
COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: Florida, South Florida, Southern Mississippi, UCF and Auburn.
THE ZACH MATTEE FILE
SCHOOL: Tarpon Springs East Lake.
40 TIME: 5.1
STRENGTH TEST: 195 - 18 times. Bench: 350.
GRADING OUT IN THE CLASSROOM: 4.2 gpa. 1100 SAT.
COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: BYU, South Florida, Georgia Tech and Auburn.
The Zach Attack: Mattee & Hermann!
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