'Gatornaughts' impress

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If you make it out to practice before the sessions go behind closed gates later this week, do yourself a favor and check out the seven true freshmen from Lakeland – the Gatornaughts.

Watching these kids compete has been one of the highlights of the preseason camp.

It’s not just a talent thing, it’s the way they carry themselves, the way they compete. The have the distinct look of champions.

It’s easy to see why Lakeland High hasn’t lost a game in more than two years.

These kids certainly don’t look like college freshmen. They blend right in with the upperclassmen in terms of maturity and the way they compete.

The Pouncey twins – Mike and Maurkice – are the No. 1 backups at guard and will play on the offensive line this season. True freshmen seeing significant playing time on the offensive line is a rare thing.

It’s been entertaining watching the Pounceys mix it up with Lakeland teammate John Brown, who is rapidly emerging as a player at defensive tackle. These three have gone after it hard, getting very physical with one another. They’re friends, but they’re also trying to make each other
better.

Chris Rainey is another Lakeland kid creating highlight moments on the practice field. The way he runs, the way he explodes through tiny gaps in the defense, he could be this season’s Percy Harvin on offense. He’s going to play tailback, he’s going to line up in the slot, and the coaches are going to put the ball in his hands at least three or four times a game.

That’s four of the Lakeland seven who will definitely be a factor this season. The other three – cornerback Ahmad Black, wide receiver Paul Wilson and linebacker Steven Wilks – also are competing and carrying themselves like champions. Black is in the playing rotation at cornerback and Wilson and Wilks have a chance to contribute on special teams this season.

These seven kids are obviously very talented. It’s also obvious they were well-coached in high school.

Check these kids out before the practice gates close on Saturday.