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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.
When it came time to choose the place they would sign their national letters on intent, Boca Ciega quarterback Terrell Skinner and Lakewood receiver Louis Murphy didn't go for the traditional spots - the principal's office, the school gym, a conference room at school.
Instead, the duo will sign at the Mount Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, where Murphy's father is a pastor and Skinner's father plays bass guitar.
Making it even more unique is the pairing of the two best players from rival schools. But Skinner and Murphy have been friends since first grade, and shared a backfield growing up in youth football as running backs.
"Me and Murph decided we wanted to do something together," said Skinner, the Times county player of the year who will sign with Maryland.
And Florida-bound Murphy, will pen the most important signature of his life away from the turmoil that was Lakewood football this past season.
Louis Murphy Sr. said he wanted his son's big day to be free of the specter of controversy created in December when coach Brian Bruch was fired for using profanity and a racial remark toward a player.
"Lakewood had some issues with the coach, so we just wanted to do it at the church," said Murphy Sr., who lobbied on Bruch's behalf so he could keep his job as a teacher. "I just think it's been too much there. We wanted to get away from it."
SIGN HIM UP: Lakewood lineman Philip Whipple and quarterback Chris Bryant will sign with Albany State Wednesday, but might do so at the school. Murphy Sr. said was unaware the two were signing (but said Bryant is a member of the church).
JUCO COMMITMENT: Dunedin coach Mark Everett said Monday that quarterback Theo Wilson , arguably the county's most electrifying player the past two seasons, will attend Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.
"This is the greatest thing," Everett said. "I'd really like to see him get out of the environment and it will do him good. If he does what he should, every door in America will be open for him."
Wilson's Falcons struggled this year thanks to injuries, and the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder had to do it all. He passed for 1,434 yards and 16 touchdowns and ran for 783 yards and 10 scores.
Everett said Florida State and Miami told him last spring that if Wilson had been academically qualified, they would have offered him scholarships then.
RUSH WEST, YOUNG MAN: Vince Patterson , the county's rushing leader in 2003 and all-time leader at Admiral Farragut, has signed to play with the defending junior college national champions.
Patterson arrived last week in Santa Clarita, Calif. to begin working out with College of the Canyons, which was 14-0 and beat City College of San Francisco 39-32 to win the state and national title.
Former Tarpon Springs star Roshawn Marshall started for COC this past season, intercepting two passes and leading the team with a 12.2 average on 29 punt returns.