Quarterback Terrell Skinner practices with his Boca Ciega teammates.
GULFPORT - Boca Ciega coach Jean Gordon will never be compared with, say, run-and-shoot inventor Mouse Davis. But to hear him talk about promising quarterback Terrell Skinner and a deep and talented group of wide receivers, there's always time for a conversion.
The Pirates, 2-8 last year, will look to regain their 2003 playoff form with Skinner leading the way. Plucked out of the school's basketball gym, Skinner started as a linebacker his sophomore year and took over the reigns at quarterback last season, when he passed for 616 yards.
But there were few sure hands to catch his passes, one of the Pirates' big areas of improvement this year.
Skinner enters this campaign much improved as a passer after a hard-working offseason, and Gordon expects he'll be one of the top emerging players in the county this season. At 6 feet 3, 190 pounds, and a time of 4.5 seconds in the 40, he already has been offered a scholarship by Central Florida as a wide receiver and expects more suitors.
"His throwing ability improved tremendously over the summer," Gordon said. "Since January, he hasn't taken a break. The kid had a dream, and he's worked at it. And it's paying off."
Gordon said he prefers to run 70 percent of the time, but Skinner could slightly alter those plans. Either way, the Pirates will be most dangerous when the ball is in Skinner's hands. He ran for 400 yards last year and won't hesitate to pull the ball down and run with it.
Not that he'll have to as much with a group of wideouts Gordon says he is "real fortunate" to have.
"We have 3-4 kids that really catch the ball," he added. "(Terrell's) got some targets."
Some big targets. Michael Lindsey, Jamar Newsome and Louis Tillman are 6-2 or 6-3, and 5-9 Brian Wright is a speedster.
Gordon still might get his 70 percent of running plays if some steady backs emerge from a cadre of six who are fighting for carries. But as long as 100 percent of the plays begin with the ball in Skinner's hands, he feels good about his offense.