Jashaun Corbin, fresh off a summer growth spurt, was excited about the opportunity to play receiver, a new position for him.
At the end of ninth grade, he had been 5-feet-8, and he was returning to practice as a 6-footer. Particularly promising was the fact that, in the spring game, his Holy Trinity team had passed every down for more than a quarter.
But the Tigers lost their season opener. Although it was only a one-point loss, coach Nate Hooks decided to move Corbin back to the position he had played growing up.
“The spread wasn’t working as well as we wanted, so we decided to try the run, plus we have a big offensive line,” Corbin said. “It was an agreement. After the loss, we decided to try the run game.”
They made the change two days before the second game of the season. Corbin debuted at his old position with 227 yards of rushing and three touchdowns. He hit the 200 mark just three minutes into the second period of a 36-7 win at Jacksonville Harvest Community.
Hooks identified five ingredients that made Corbin his top candidate for running back: vision, hand-eye coordination, quickness, power and explosiveness.
“Those are good traits for a running back, but his hands are so good that they made him a good receiver,” Hooks said. “He used those running back skills after he caught the ball as a receiver. We’re just eliminating the catching and just putting the ball in his hands.”
The numbers back up the move.
Through five games at running back — including the Week 2 game shortened to a half by lightning — the 10th-grader has carried the ball 110 times for 1,044 yards and 15 touchdowns.
There is another key number: five wins since the switch.
“After the first 200-yard game, I kind of felt like I could do it every game,” Corbin said. “The best feeling is when you make somebody miss and all you see in front of you is the end zone.”
Corbin has seen plenty of that, and he’s seen a season’s-worth of big games. Two weeks after his first outing there, he ran for 184 yards on 24 carries against District 6-3A rival Melbourne Central Catholic. That game included a 50-yard touchdown run from punting formation in the fourth quarter, one of his favorite moments.
He ran 18 times for 175 yards at Cocoa Beach, and against a bigger Agape Christian team last week, he rushed for 259 yards and five touchdowns.
So, surely he is thrilled about the change.
“I still like receiver. I’ll say it’s 50-50,” Corbin said. Hooks credited his star’s acceptance of the role to his upbringing.
“He’s from a good family. He’s a good kid, so he did whatever we needed him to do.”
At 184 pounds, Hooks said another 15 to 20 pounds before graduation would make Corbin an attractive back for colleges. But there are two more seasons after this one for the versatile athlete to try that new position.
“If we get a stud running back next year, I’ll go back to receiver.”
Hooks has already thought about that, picturing a backfield with two talented running backs or perhaps an offense with Corbin split wide, defensive coordinators puzzling over how to respond.
Until then, the coach is more than satisfied with his decision.
“He’s our biggest threat on offense, and he was at receiver,” Hooks said. “The best way to get the ball in his hands is to hand it to him. He’s electric once it’s in his hands.”
Contact McCallum at 321-242-3698 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Brian_McCallum and at facebook.com/FLtoday.brianmccallum.