- February 12, 2015
OCOEE — The Ocoee Knights are a little more than two weeks into spring practice, as well as the beginning of the Ben Bullock era for the program.
Accordingly, there’s a new energy as the Knights prepare for their spring football game against University High School May 21, a home game beginning at 7 p.m.
“With the new coaching staff, everything is up-tempo, and everything is 100 miles per hour,” rising junior cornerback Dorian Jones said after practice May 7. “I see a lot of change in the guys; they’re working a lot harder.”
It’s an exciting time for the program — and an even more exciting time for Jones personally.
The talented defensive player reached a milestone in his prep career recently when he was offered a scholarship by Tulane, a Division I FBS program competing in the American Athletic Conference.
“I set a goal for myself about a few months ago that I wanted to get my first Division I offer going into my junior year, and now, that dream has come true,” Jones said.
The offer for the rising junior is a good barometer of his potential, something to which new Ocoee assistant coach Terrance Larmond can attest. Larmond, in previous coaching stops at South Lake and Mount Dora, has a track record of developing high-level defensive backs.
“(Jones is) an extremely hard worker; he’s self-motivated — that’s the biggest thing about him,” Larmond said. “That’s a trait that’s been in all my other guys that have been All-Americans … (Jones) displays that same type of work ethic and hunger.”
For Bullock, the offer is more than just a sign that he has a talented defensive back — it’s also something he can use as a motivational tool as he looks to inspire a program that has struggled in recent years.
“It’s stuff that the kids can see, and, momentum-wise, it’s just progress … the process and everything we’re trying to do is starting to show something,” Bullock said. “(Jones is) a great kid. Him getting an offer, that can be something where, ‘Hey, it’s not just Dorian’s offer — it’s Ocoee’s offer.’”
Bullock said it will continue to take time to get his new roster up to speed with the program’s new tempo and direction, but the first two weeks have been encouraging.
“We have a lot of potential,” Bullock said. “We’ve got guys that are starting at a certain level, and we can get them to another level. You can always get them better; there’s always a ton of room for growth.”
As for Jones, the offer from Tulane is an exciting development — and the first of many, he hopes.
“I hope I can get many more (offers) and explore my options,” Jones said. “But I’m also very happy with the offer I got.”
University Cougars at Ocoee Knights
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 21
WHERE: Ocoee High School, 1925 Ocoee Crown Point Parkway, Ocoee
EXTRA POINT: The Knights will take the field for the first time under a new coaching staff on their home field in Ocoee against a talented Cougars team.
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].