JACKSONVILLE – Fleming Island High football may have found a diamond in the rough at a new position as 6 foot 6 inch former offensive tackle Sam Snyder has emerged as the best-kept pass catching secret in Clay County.
“He had a great three game series, but we have to get another guy on the other side or teams will be doubling or tripling him in the fall,” said Fleming Island coach Damenyum Springs. “Overall, I give us a “3” out of 10 for the day. We had a lot of misread defensive coverages, I saw fatigue making some mistakes and we have to get people in the right formation and schemes on offense.”
Snyder, who has seen offers from numerous colleges around the country including a recent Wake Forest offer, became the key target of quarterback Dean Hyams in the Jacksonville Jaguars 7-on-7 tournament held on the Jaguars’ practice fields in Jacksonville June 20.
“Between him and Aaron Ramirez, we have two pretty fast guys that can get downfield,” said Springs. “Snyder has been clocked at 4.5 seconds for 40 numerous times and, with his reach, he can go get balls way above the defense. Aaron is fast and a smart player.”
In their first two scrimmages, against 6A-Ocala Vanguard and 5A-Westside high schools, Hyams was smooth in delivery in lofting his passes toward the skyscraper called Snyder for three scores against Vanguard and two against Westside. Though Fleming Island lost both scrimmages and a third against Raines, coach Damenyum Springs saw some offensive action that will keep enemy defenses on edge with slot back Aaron Ramirez also making a handful of catch and run plays for big gains.
Fleming Island’s top running back from the pocket, DeWayne McBride was mainly a blocking back for the event.
“We had Max Michaels playing on the offense side, but defense needs to get better and he may return to that side,” said Springs. “Both Vanguard and Westside were hitting routes behind our linebackers and in front of safety Jacob Ashe. Our linebackers have to pick those guys up.”
Two of Snyder’s three scores against Vanguard, a 35-2 loss, came in the end zone with outstretched hands putting Snyder’s reach far above any unwitting defender. Snyder’s first was an Odell Beckham like one-hander in the corner of the end zone while his second was a button hook above the center of the Vanguard defense.
On defense, defensive back Ernie Jones, who got lost in one crossing pattern that became an Ocala score, had a handful of pass breakups against the high-powered Vanguard receiver corps with Landon Perry manning the opposite corner. Jacob Ashe and Middleburg High transfer Andrew Thomas both roamed the middle of the defense with tags on under routes in front of them.
“Andrew is probably going to be our utility guy with his overall speed,” said Springs. “We’ll keep trying guys back there because we got beat a bunch of times against Vanguard and against Westside, two good throwing teams.”
Against Westside, a 24-20 loss, saw Snyder make a nifty crossing pattern catch on the dive to set up a Ramirez scoring grab in the corner of the end zone. Ramirez would get a second score on an out pattern in the end zone that showed off some good footwork to stay in bounds.
Snyder also used his leaping ability and wingspan to outfight for a lofted ball that put Fleming Island in scoring position.
On defense, Fleming Island got a game-ending interception on the goal line from Perry one of the Golden Eagles’ leaders on defense last year. Perry made a nice pass breakup on the play before his pick.
Not playing defense was Max Michaels who was at a slot back position on offense for the scrimmages.
“He has a good nose for the ball and may have to go both ways until we get out linebackers straight,” said Springs.
Westside, with one of the more highly sought wide outs in north Florida, was able to move downfield on the Fleming Island defense with mainly sideline passes.
“With two new coaches; offense Ryan Wolfe and defense Kyle Kennard, the kids have some new terminology to learn,” said Springs. “Both of those guys (Wolfe from Clay, Creekside; Kennard from Oakleaf) offer a lot. It may take some time.”
Fleming Island is set to attend a full pads camp July 10-12 at Jacksonville University.