I apologized to Greg Gooch on Monday for bringing all of this attention on him.
He said he was OK with it.
His phone was lighting up on Saturday morning after he was penciled in as the No. 1-ranked prospect in the debut of the Sentinel’s 2014 Central Florida Super60.
“It was surprising,” said Gooch, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound Longwood Lyman linebacker. “That wasn’t even on my mind. Then I got all these phone calls from all these people saying, “You’re No. 1, you’re No. 1’ ... and to tell you the truth, I didn’t even know what the Super60 was.”
And many were equally wondering about this mystery person atop the Super60. There are a lot of people who have never heard of him. Opposing coaches, however, are not among the uninformed.
“People are already game-planning for him,” Lyman head coach Jeff Gierke said. “They know who he is. The offensive line points him out before every play and he still makes plays.”
Gooch is learning quickly that if teams haven’t already worked up a game plan to account for his presence, they will quickly change the directional flow of their offenses when they realize Gooch is blowing up his side of the ball.
“And he doesn’t get frustrated,” Gierke said. “He just works harder to try to make something happen and every game he makes something happen. Most kids who teams run away from, they’re not going to have many tackles, but he’s always toward the top of the list every Saturday when I do stats and that’s just the kind of motor he has.”
Gooch is not accepting of teams running away from him. He’ll do whatever it takes to run down the play from the backside or go across the grain. Some players accept it and just stay home.
Not Gooch. If this were basketball, they’d call him a ball hog.
“I can’t do that. I like to be in on every tackle,” Gooch says. “It’s a blast. Me and my defensive lineman, Devonte Petty, we actually compete to see who gets the most run-down tackles.”
Which is something else Gierke says about Gooch. He makes his teammates better and is as much a listener and a coachable athlete as he is a teacher and leader himself.
“Devonte is a sophomore and Greg has told him how good he can be, and the kid has played out of his mind because of that,” Gierke said. “He definitely is the heart and soul of our defense and every week the defense is starting to respond and they are emulating the way Greg plays.”
It bodes well for the future of Lyman football, a program that has newfound aura of excitement with the new coaching staff this season.
The Greyhounds, who also have new uniforms and a new logo, are just 2-2, but one can sense the positive atmosphere Gierke has tried to create.
And when it comes to a player like Greg Gooch, success will often times breed more success, and he’s done that just by the example he has set.
“Everybody wants to play like Greg now,” Gierke said. “And that’s the best thing you can say about a player as a coach is that he makes everybody better and they all want to be Greg.”
Before long, recruiting scouts are all going to want Greg.
But he said he’s ready for the attention. He doesn’t have a problem with that.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.