Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

With More Experience and 20 Pounds of Added Muscle, Junior Is Prepared to Live out His Dream

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

With More Experience and 20 Pounds of Added Muscle, Junior Is Prepared to Live out His Dream

Article excerpt

BRADENTON -- Similar to many kids growing up in Bradenton, A.J. Colagiovanni spent his Friday nights each fall at Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium, peering through the fence and dreaming of the day he would get to be a Manatee Hurricane.

Last season, however, his fantasy was blindsided by a heavy dose of reality. Named the starter just before the beginning of the season, after senior Sloan Drummonds left the team, Colagiovanni, a sophomore, struggled. In his first varsity game, he threw a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions during Manatee's season-opening 23-7 loss to Ware County, Georgia. It was the Hurricanes' first regular- season loss in nearly three years.

Then Drummonds returned, sending Colagiovanni, a starter for Manatee's first four games, back to the sideline.

"It was just a great learning experience for me," he said. "I was a sophomore, coming into the fire, to one of the best programs ... sometimes you get knocked down, sometimes you're up."

He will have plenty of chances to spin those lessons into gold this fall. Colagiovanni enters his junior year as Manatee's starting quarterback, and this time it

should stick. Colagiovanni is more experienced and stronger than he was this time last season, estimating he's added 20 pounds of muscle thanks to a offseason regimen that included plenty of trips to the weight room and a cleaner diet.

It's Colagiovanni's team now, a reward for his refusal to walk away from a unique situation last season.

"No, never," he said, when asked if he considered quitting. "These are my guys and I believe in them. This is the place to be. I've thought that since day one."

Not only did Colagiovanni spend most of the spring, and the first days of camp, as Manatee's starter, he is also more familiar with head coach John Booth's system than he was this time last summer. Couple that with his increased size and speed, the benefits he said of working with strength coach Rich Lansky, and Colagiovanni acknowledges he is more prepared for the starting role this year than he was last season. …

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