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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Quarterback Billy Tapp and defensive back Rashad Etheridge, two key players in St. Petersburg Catholic's playoff run this past season, orally commited Tuesday night to colleges, Barons coach Dam Mancuso said.
Tapp, the Barons' starter the past two seasons, picked Columbia, and Etheridge chose Western Kentucky.
Though Tapp, who is 6-5, 215 pounds, also visited more football-oriented schools such as Florida Atlantic and North Carolina State, he also wanted to cash in on his exceptional work in the classroom and always leaned toward attending an Ivy League school. He also considered Army and Holy Cross.
Also a starter on the Barons state runnerup basketball team, Tapp guided the Barons to the Class 2B semifinals in football. He threw for 1,800 yards and 14 touchdowns this season, with seven interceptions.
Etheridge, 5-9 and 170 pounds, emerged as a Division I player this season. The Gibbs transfer had 96 tackles, six interceptions and six sacks on defense, drawing most of his suitors after the season.
He visited Marshall last weekend and had offers from FAU and Kent State, but wasn't as impressed as he had been with Western Kentucky.
Hilltopper coaches told Etheridge he might play some offense - he rushed for 439 yards and four TDs - but they loved the way he played defensive back.
"They said I was fast and they liked that I like to hit," Etheridge said. "They said most cornerbacks they looked at that were fast didn't like to hit."
Tapp and Etheridge join SPC teammates Carl Teague (UConn) and Everett Barney (Eastern Michigan) as commitments.