Much has been said of Plant City’s Montel McBride, who looks — and plays — like the Incredible Hulk. And of Sedrick King, a great athlete and potential terrorizer at outside linebacker.
But, neither lead the team in sacks this season. Ever heard of John Broome?
Broome, a senior defensive end, has 15 sacks in 2013 — three shy of setting a new record. His name isn’t often floated around in the same recruiting circles as McBride and King, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t leave an impression.
“When a lot of guys came down to evaluate and offer Sedrick during the spring, all of them came and loved Sedrick, but most of them liked Sedrick as an outside linebacker,” defensive coordinator Greg Meyer said. “Everybody came down and said, ‘John is clearly the best D-lineman down here.’”
Broome’s efforts haven’t gone completely unrecognized. He has received offers from programs such as Youngstown State, Florida International and Florida A&M. He also has been drawing interest from bigger programs, such as Minnesota, Syracuse and Florida Atlantic. The best problem for a high school athlete to have is collegiate indecision.
“I’m still thinking about it,” he says.
With the potential for more offers to come through before National Signing Day, choosing a commitment is the one thing Broome shouldn’t tackle as quick as he can. But, regardless of where he ends up, he knows he’s within reach of one of his lifelong goals.
Some families are known for their extensive background with a sport. The Sutters play hockey, the Von Erichs wrestle, and the Broomes play football.
“My dad played football, and so did my brother, my grandpa, my cousins and uncles,” Broome said.
As a male in the family, it was a given that Broome was going to play, too. He grew up playing for the Plant City Dolphins, rocking the teal and orange long before he first pulled on a Raiders jersey. Naturally, he grew to love the game.
“You do it for a long time, and then you start to love it, since you do it so long,” he said. “And then, it’s just a dream for you to play in college, like, be on TV, to be in the NFL one day and have people watching you.”
A hobby that his entire family had until the end of high school, when the game ended. None of them went on to play football in college, but Broome wants to change that.
“My dad could have went to college, but then he had me,” Broome said. “I was born, so when he looks at me, he kind of wants to live his dreams out through me. He enjoys watching me play football.”
Broome is glad the chase for this goal is finally coming to an end. The sack record, in comparison, would simply be nice to add to the résumé. And, for Broome and his coaches, it’s important to remember how he got to this point.
Everyone who talks about Broome is quick to mention his first step. The adjective is almost never “quick,” but “explosive,” or “D-1.”
And the coaches are right. Broome flies off of the line like a sprint runner out of the gate, often catching offensive tackles off-guard.
“John has a very unique gift that you really can’t teach, to the level at which he has,” Meyer says. “His burst, his hips, his ankles, all of his power joints, flex at a very fast rate. He’s got fast-twitch muscles that a lot of kids are just born with.”
Meyer only has been on the Raiders’ staff for two years, but he has played a crucial role in Broome’s development.
“When I first got here, as a D-line coach in my first week of being in Plant City, John Broome was a kid who stood out to me right away,” Meyer says.
Meyer noticed Broome’s quick first step and started a project. He had Broome working on techniques, bulking up and going to camps to turn his talents into usable assets.
“Coach Meyer has done a heck of a job with that young man,” head coach Wayne Ward says. “Greg took him under his wing and molded him, kind of turned him into what he is today. It took a lot of hard work, but [Broome] was willing.”
And now, the final game of the regular season is just a day away. With a postseason appearance secured, Broome is focused on ending this last home game with a bang. That bang could come in the form of a two- or three-sack game, which would pencil his name in the record book.
“I wanted a real purpose to play this year, Broome says. “I was just going out and playing football, having fun, trying to go to college. But, we have this saying: ‘Be phenomenal, or be forgotten.’ I want something for people to remember me by.”
So, he looked at the list of school records and decided to go for the sacks.
“I thought, ‘I can get that if I really want to,’” he says.
His name would be the only one associated with the record, for the time being: The players and coaches aren’t sure who currently holds that record, or some of the others.
“They used to have it up on the walls in the gym, but when we went through renovations, all those records just kind of found legs and disappeared,” Ward says. “We don’t know where they are.”
It’s fitting that Broome’s pre-game routine involves listening to rapper Meek Mill’s latest “Dreamchasers” album, because he has been chasing his own dreams since he first picked up a football. And with Gaither coming to town tomorrow, he may finally catch at least one.
Contact Justin Kline at email@example.com.
OTHER AREA ACTION
Strawberry Crest at Armwood
Last Week: Strawberry Crest had its bye week, while Armwood dismantled Chamberlain, 38-7.
Notes: Crest did play two quarters of football on Monday to determine the district playoff scenario and lost 7-0 to East Bay, then 6-0 to Plant City. Having fallen out of the top two, the Chargers have been eliminated from postseason contention. At Chamberlain on Friday night, it was the same old song and dance for the mighty, undefeated Hawks of Armwood.