By FRANK PASTOR
© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 18, 2001
TAMPA -- After the 1999 season, only two Tampa Bay Tech players earned scholarships, a reflection of the Titans' 3-17 record during the previous two years.
But the team improved to 5-5 last season and won its first district championship. And its players are reaping the benefits.
Cornerback Frank Irby, free safety Marquette Floyd, strong safety James Idleburgh and guard Matt Eben made commitments recently, bringing to seven the number of 2001 Tampa Bay Tech graduates who will play in college next season.
Irby (5 feet 10, 175 pounds), a two-time all-Western Conference running back who intercepted five passes during the past two seasons, signed with Garden City (Kan.) Community College.
Garden City was No. 3 in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll after last season.
Floyd (5-10, 180), an all-conference selection who moved from cornerback to free safety, committed to Ranger (Texas) College, a two-year school.
Idleburgh (5-10, 185), an all-conference pick who intercepted three passes, signed with Iowa Central CC in Fort Dodge.
Eben (6-0, 255), a strong run blocker who received all-conference honorable mention, committed to Jacksonville, a Division I-AA non-scholarship program.
Linebacker Jonta Mention (Alabama A&M), cornerback Kevin Hobbs (Texas Southern) and wide receiver James Hopkins (Texas Southern) signed earlier.
Tampa Bay Tech coach John Colbert said 2000 graduates James Young, a starting safety at Georgia Southern, and Tommy Simpson, a linebacker at Coffeyville (Kan.) CC, helped pave the way for this year's signees.
"Those two provided a ray of hope for these guys," Colbert said.
An eighth former Tampa Bay Tech player, 1997 graduate Kevin Harris, also signed with Garden State CC. Harris, a 10th-round pick of the Texas Rangers in the '97 draft, spent the past four years playing minor league baseball.
TERRIER MEETING: Hillsborough High is holding an organizational meeting at 7 tonight at Chelo Huerta Field for all ninth- and 10th-graders interested in playing football.