All those recruiters that watched film of Chandler Hamilton linebacker Jeremiah Trojan in the fall and didn’t offer him are all over him now this spring after they’ve seen his physical transformation.
He has added 40 pounds and grown two inches since last season ended.
He is now 6-foot-4, 232 pounds, and this week picked up his first Power 5 offer, from UCLA.
“I’m just eating and lifting, maturing,” Trojan said.
Last year, Trojan played at 6-2, 192.
“He just matured and had a chance to develop with a good offseason,” coach Mike Zdebski said. “His ability is there. His speed is there. His athleticism is there. He was just too light. Now people come to see him and are reevaluating him.”
It’s resulted in 16 football scholarship offers for Trojan since Hamilton completed the worst season in its storied history.
UCLA is recruiting Trojan as an inside linebacker, but a lot of schools like him at outside backer. He said he still feels light on his feet.
“I’d say I’m probably quicker, more athletic,” Trojan said. “More power.”
He said the UCLA offer doesn’t lessen his appetite to be the best.
“You’ve got to stay hungry,” he said.
Trojan’s transformation might be an indication of a possible rebound for Hamilton in Zdebski’s second year.
After Hamilton went 3-7, missed the state playoffs for the first time and was outscored 351-276, Zdebski had his players devote to the weight room. He had them competing this spring in track and field if they weren’t doing another sport.
Junior wide receiver Brenden Rice, son of Jerry Rice, saw the benefits.
His two third-place finishes in the 100 and 200 dashes last Saturday at the Division I state championships, running a sub-11-second 100, landed him an offer from Michigan the next day.
This week, he also picked up an Ole Miss offer.
“The concern on him was, ‘Is he fast?’ ” Zdebski said. “When you’re running 10.78 electronic (in the 100 meters), that put that to rest.”
Overall speed and size of the players have improved.
Zdebski made several staff changes, but he feels having the players in the system after a year under offensive coordinator Andy Litten (came in last year from Marana) and defensive coordinator Tim Dougherty (came in from Illinois) will pay off.
Zdebski is using this spring to play everybody on both sides of the ball.
Mondays and Tuesdays are dedicated to offense, while Wednesdays and Thursdays focus on defense. So early in the week, Trojan is playing H-back. And later in the week, Rice is playing outside linebacker.
The best athletes will likely be going both ways in an era, especially at a program like Hamilton, where single platoon has always been the case, because of such a surplus of players.
Zdebski wants to get this program back on track.
And he feels by getting in front of the eighth graders at camps to let them know whatHamilton is all about will help. He also likes his freshman coaching staff and feels any great program starts with the strength of the freshman team.
Chandler, the three-time defending 6A champion that has basically lapped Hamilton during this run, is not going to be rebuilding anytime soon with one of the best freshman teams in Arizona high school football history dominating everybody last season.
“Depth is always an issue with most teams,” Zdebski said. “We can survive a little adversity. We saw that too with injuries (last season). We got to the point where we didn’t have enough depth. The kids tried the best they could and worked their tails off.”
Trojan believes the Huskies are ready to change back to being a powerhouse.
“We should be a lot better,” he said. “Summer lifting is going to be everyday after spring ball.
“We’re coming back.”
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