East River head football coach Marc Rankin didn’t really have a quarterback heading into the 2013 spring session.
Timber Creek quarterback Tanner Hearn was mired in a back-up role that was likely to extend another season behind senior-to-be Stuckey Mosley.
On Friday, Rankin said he had heard from an assistant coach that he might have a new quarterback. The assistant was right.
While Rankin was tending to his duties overseeing the East River agriculture program at the Orange County Fair, Hearn was walking around East River’s campus during his first official day at the east Orlando school.
“I’m actually really excited about this opportunity,” Hearn said Friday evening. “I look forward to meeting a bunch of new players and learning a whole new offense, completely different than Timber Creek’s, and I’m just excited about the whole situation.”
The Hearn family bought a new house in the neighboring East River school district.
“Yeah, we moved completely and I transferred early enough so everything is pretty much set,” Hearn said of his eligibility to participate in spring practice, which begins the first week of May.
Hearn has had an interesting journey. He came out of Avalon Middle School as a much-heralded quarterback who had participated in the Eastbay Youth All-American Game in San Antonio in January, 2011, a game that was held in conjunction with the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Upon entering his freshman season at Timber Creek, he certainly knew there would be competition, but what lay ahead could not have been predicted.
UCF head football coach George O’Leary hired assistant Danny Barrett to from Bethune-Cookman, and Barrett moved his family, including senior quarterback Zach Barrett, into the Creek district. Barrett won the job and directed the Wolves into the state playoffs.
Entering his sophomore season, Hearn once again was faced with competition from an upperclassman in junior Stuckey Mosley, who won the job and led the Wolves to a 10-2 mark and another state appearance. The incumbent at Creek this season, of course, is the senior-to-be Mosley, who is also an equally talented basketball player.
Hearn, 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, could have waited in the wings, but all-important game reps would have likely been few and far between and it’s difficult to get much college attention from the sidelines. The family move to another school district certainly doesn’t assure the sophomore of anything, but he’s looking forward to the opportunity.
East River’s two quarterbacks from this past season – Arnold Lusby and Matt Morris – are seniors, so the Falcons will need someone to step up.
“The past couple of years have been difficult. I was always battling a guy who was a little bit older than me,” Hearn said. “But that pushed me to be a better quarterback and now that I’m over here I’ll still be pushing myself to be a better quarterback.”
He’ll see plenty of familiar faces in the hallways at East River, the school which opened in 2009 and was populated with students from the surrounding zones of Timber Creek and University high schools.
“I know a lot of people through football camps and just have friends in general who came over when the school opened,” Hearn said. “They made me feel welcomed.”
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.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun