Players to watch; Explorers prepare for 2014 football season

For veterans on the Columbus Explorers football team such as Tucker Beirne and Austin Maloney, spring football is a time to sharpen their skills as they prepare for the upcoming season. For the young players on the football team, however, it is a platform to show the coaches what they can do and hopefully earn a role as an invaluable member of the football team.

These players must perform at the highest level possible in order to not only improve the depth of the football team, but also help it become a team to reckon with come playoff time. These are some players who will do just that as spring football comes to a close.

Jerron Rollins, Junior Wide Receiver: Coming in at 6’2″ and 170 Pounds, this junior wide- receiver is not hard to miss when the offense storms the field. After 2 years at Palmetto High School, Rollins enters this prominent football program bringing with him several off-season accolades. While The Miami Herald lists him as the 12th overall player for the class of 2016 in Miami-Dade County, South Florida High School ranks him as the 22nd overall player in the class of 2016 from both Miami-Dade County and Broward County combined. In Columbus’ scrimmage this past Friday against Cardinal Gibbons, Rollins impressed his spectators with his versatility on the field by doing anything from grabbing touchdowns on back shoulder fades to opening up the field for his counterparts Xavier Williams and Austin Maloney. Whether or not he becomes a focal point of the offense during the season remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that if Rollins performs up to his expectations this season, the Columbus Explorer Wide Receiving Corps will be one to watch.

Amir Rasul, Junior Running Back/Strong Safety: Whether he is running on the track or on the football field, junior running back Amir Rasul has always been an electric athlete whose future looks bright. As a running back on the varsity football team last season, Rasul showed flashes of greatness despite an injury plagued season. In the first game of the season against South Dade for example, Head Coach Chris Merritt trusted Rasul with the ball in the game’s final moments. The then sophomore responded with a great performance, as he pounded away at the Buccaneers’ state championship defense for several big first down runs on the game’s final drive. Due to his speed and versatility, Rasul will be a multi-position athlete for the Explorers in 2014 by playing both running and defensive back. Since he played in several games at defensive back toward the latter part of the regular season, adjusting to a more permanent role at safety shouldn’t be too difficult for the junior this upcoming year. Whether or not his defensive game becomes a factor for Columbus next year is uncertain at this point, but one thing that is certain is that his athleticism will play a prominent role in the team’s success next season.

Trajan Bandy, Sophomore Cornerback: Last season Trajan Bandy established himself as a name to remember, by becoming the only freshman at Columbus to make the varsity team in 2013. Despite limited playing time at the beginning of the season, Bandy came into his own near playoff time and earned himself a solid role in the secondary. In Friday’s scrimmage against Cardinal Gibbons, Bandy started as the number two cornerback, and fared well against a passing attack that threw the fourth most passing yards in Broward county last season. Despite his 5’8″ and 161 pound frame, Bandy had no problem making up for the size difference against larger receivers such as Belen’s Frank Battle who comes in 6’5″. In that game Trajan was a big part in the Explorers shutting down Battle, as he knocked away a possible touchdown reception in the end zone. The development of Trajan Bandy was vital to the defense’s success last season and there is no doubt that if the Explorers have a dominating pass defense next year, Bandy will be a big part of the reason why.

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