Zone Read: What To Expect Coming Back

Hello and best wishes to each and every one of you. I hope your week is going well and this “Zone Read” column will bring a little levity to this odd time in our society.

I’d encourage everyone to please continue to be safe and be considerate of those around you in our ever-changing landscape here in Arizona.

Here’s this week’s “Zone Read.” 

How and Why

Is the “new normal” getting slightly closer to the “old normal?”

I suppose it depends on your perspective. 

Tuesday was a big day in our state after Governor Doug Ducey made official what many thought was imminent for the past several days.

OK, so how does this impact high school football both now and as we move closer to the season — which the “Zone Read” fully expects to be played?

In the present, there will be adjustments made as players slowly trickle back onto campuses to train, attend meetings, possibly get treatment and return back to the overall “routine” of late spring/early summer football-related activities.

One head coach, speaking off the record to the “Zone Read,” is most concerned about keeping social distancing, with weight training at the top of the list. When a player is “spotting” for another during a lift, it’s impossible to safely distance, plus the amount players sweat in a crowded weight room isn’t exactly conducive to public safety in a confined area, regardless of how big it is in comparison. 

However, this source believes doing cardio and field work in the open air will not only be much safer but productive, as well. He said he will require all of his staff to wear masks at all times on campus and players will likely have to wear head and wristbands in hopes of keeping their sweat safe from others.

Good luck trying to get linemen work in when players won’t be allowed to hold blocking pads or push sleds.

This Rubik’s cube will be an intricate one to solve as coaches around the state attempt to be productive, but more importantly, safe.

Bijan Built

Everything’s bigger in Texas – Bijan Robinson will find that out soon enough.

Thankfully, Robinson has had the physical makeup of a Power 5 running back since the beginning of his junior year at Tucson Salpointe.

Now, the player “Zone Read” calls the best prep running back to ever come out of State Forty Eight (close to 8,000 total yards and a cool 123 career touchdowns) is putting in the work (safely), even during the pandemic, to hit the ground running in Austin later this summer. 

“I’ve been with my trainer Carla Garrett with a couple of my teammates and we have been going since the pandemic started,” Robinson said to the “Zone Read.” “Then I’ll go with my running backs coach Zach Neveleff. I’ve been training for the time being and just staying inside and staying safe.”

Robinson says he’s gained 5-10 pounds of strength since the season ended and currently weighs between 215-220.

Big 12 defenses have been warned.

Brady’s Bunch

Soon-to-be Oregon starting quarterback and former Hamilton star Tyler Shough is usually the football name you hear associated with the family but little brother Brady is well on his way to establishing his own family legacy with the Huskies and beyond in the coming years.

While Tyler is the big-armed, cold-blooded and ultra-competitive leader, Brady’s skill set is different but the fire burning inside mirrors big brother. 

“He’s a phenomenal athlete,” Tyler said to Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a recent Skype interview. “He’s fast, athletic…I’m really excited for him. He’s got all the tools he needs.”

— Tyler Shough (@tylershough2) March 28, 2020

Brady, who Tyler said has put on 10-15 pounds this off-season, is around 200 pounds and has the height (just above 6-foot-2) which intrigues colleges. 

Further, his production on both sides of the ball last fall as a junior (36 receptions, 431 yards, 59 tackles, four pass deflections, two interceptions) will likely add value to his recruitment.

The younger Shough, who has been working out with his older sibling during the pandemic, already has an offer from NAU and, according to Tyler, has been getting interest from Pac-12, Mountain West schools and the Academies.

“He’s got great fast-twitch muscles,” Tyler said.

The video above is certainly a testament to that.

Mustang Power

“Zone Read” will be curious to watch the job former Phoenix College head coach and Mountain Pointe offensive coordinator Mark Mejia does turning around North High after the Mustangs finished 3-7 the past two seasons.

Outside of leading receiver Ryan Gastelum (46 catches, 841 yards, eight touchdowns), most of the top varsity skill level players have graduated but smartly Mejia has hired an experienced staff, including a pair of former head varsity coaches in Dylan Winemiller (Betty H. Fairfax) and Alonzo Highsmith, Jr. (Willcox). 

Bernie Busken finished with three-straight .500 or better seasons at North from 2015-17.