Former Dr. Phillips lineman Jack Lightsey fitting in at Armwood
Jack Lightsey, Armwood, OL, 2012 (CHRIS HAYS/ORLANDO SENTINEL / June 25, 2011)
Sure, he had on a different uniform -- several actually, as Armwood had to borrow equipment from area schools like Orlando Timber Creek, Tampa Carrollwood Day and Tampa-area Faith Christian Academy -- but the newest member of the vaunted Armwood offensive line was right in the thick of things, picking up where he left off at Dr. Phillips, sort of.
Lightsey was a veteran on the Dr. Phillips line, one of the leaders of a group that was pretty young last season. In transferring to Armwood, however, he met plenty of leaders on an Armwood squad dominated by seniors with four legitimate NCAA Division I-A offensive line prospects, and possibly more.
"It's been really easy," Lightsey said of transferring to his new school, which he did last semester so he could get on the field for spring practice."The guys have all been very accepting and they knew I was a good football player and that I was legit coming from Dr. Phillips."
They may have even been harder on Lightsey coming in.
"Of course I had to proved myself," Lightsey said.
Yes, nothing is given to you in the trenches. But Lightsey was able to beat out a couple of other players, the most challenging being 6-foot-6, 340-pound Sean Gavitt, and he has gained the starting right guard spot.
So Lightsey will fill the one spot Armwood had as a question mark between all-everything LT Cody Waldrop (6-4, 315), LG Brandon Teeling (6-3, 260) C Cameron Dees (6-2, 280) and RT Kevin McCoy (6-5, 275).
"I just had to come in here and dominate and compete for a spot," Lightsey said. "I had to out-lift and outrun and outwork the other guys."
And he did that, in quite impressive fashion, answering all questions about his place on the front line. Lightsey has also benefited from being around such a strong offensive line contingent. He is pushed every day by his linemen cohorts and has gained a much larger frame than his D.P. playing weight.
Last year he listed at 6-foot-1, 225 pounds and sometimes looked like a tight end playing tackle. He's looking far more the part these days, measuring in at 6-foot-3, 265 pounds, and as evidenced at the UCF team camp on Saturday, Lightsey was holding his blocks longer, most of the time holding the opposition off entirely.
He's healthy and happy, but his three years at Dr. Phillips weren't wasted times.
"Sure, I miss it," Lightsey said of Dr. Phillips. "I talk to some guys once in a while, but how are they looking this year? I heard they're pretty young."
He can't worry about that now. He'll just have to watch from afar, and he'll likely be rooting for his former teammates.
"We moved for a mix of reasons and mostly a lot of different family reasons, a lot more than football reasons," he said. "My mom is from the [Seffner] area and my family really wasn't that happy in Orlando. They're more like Tampa people than Orlando people."
Lightsey just hopes he can get back to Orlando one more time -- in December in the Citrus Bowl.
That's where he last left the football field with a bitter taste of defeat at the hands of the Miami Central squad that ended D.P.'s perfect season in 2010. Armwood, too, fell one game shy of the state crown last year. So Lightsey now has a double agenda.
And who knows. Maybe he'll see some former Dr. Phillips teammates at the Citrus Bowl, as well. All playing, back on the same field where they parted ways.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com.