College athletes are making Sarasota proud.
It is officially fall, which is a weird thing to say when I still sweat through my clothes five minutes after walking outside, but it's reality.
With that reality comes a slew of new athletes making a name for themselves in their respective sports. Since readers seemed to enjoy getting a collegiate update each sports season in 2018-2019, I'm bringing it back for 2019-2020. There isn't a whole lot going on besides football yet, so that is going to dominate this column.
Luckily for all of us, our former area stars are also dominating, making this an exciting entry.
Former Booker High wide receivers Artie Henry and Talik Keaton both attend Marshall University, and both have made an impact on the 2019 season. Henry, a senior, originally attended San Diego Mesa junior college before transferring to Marshall in 2018. He’s made an impact since arriving. This season, through three games, Henry has six catches for 66 yards — second and third on the team, respectively — and one touchdown (against VMI). For a team that gets more than half of its offense on the ground, those are solid numbers.
Keaton, a redshirt freshman, has two catches thus far, but he’s made a massive difference in the punt return game, collecting 107 yards on five returns, including a 67-yard touchdown (also against VMI). That is the type of play that can change games.
Marshall is 2-1, its only loss coming against a quite good Boise State team, 14-7. The more the offense gets these Booker players involved, the better it will do, I think.
Over at Indiana, former Riverview High cornerback Jamar Johnson has 11 tackles — 1.5 of them for a loss — and a sack, plus another quarterback hit, through four games. Johnson, a sophomore, has yet to get his first interception of the season, but that might be because teams are hesitant to throw at him. The Hoosiers have yet to allow a 300-yard passer, even in a loss against Ohio State, and have held two opponents, Connecticut and Eastern Illinois, under 100 passing yards.
Another Booker alumnus — and another wide receiver — is shining in the Southeastern Conference. Osirus Mitchell, a junior at Mississippi State, has 17 catches for 244 yards and three touchdowns through four games, leading the team in each. Those catches and yards numbers are more than halfway to his totals from all of 2018 (26 catches, 427 yards). The 6-foot-5 Mitchell has developed a strong connection with quarterbacks Tommy Stevens and Garrett Shrader, who have split time thus far, and it is paying off. The 3-1 Bulldogs would be wise to keep throwing his way as the season progresses.
Continuing the trend of Booker alumni standing out, defensive tackle Jacques Bristol has seven tackles through four games, 2.5 of those tackles going for a loss. He also has two sacks, one coming against the vaunted Miami Hurricanes. Considering Bristol is a true freshman, I didn’t anticipate this immediate playing time for him, but he has certainly earned it and proven me wrong. The Chippewas are 2-2, but Bristol is plenty of reason to keep an eye on them for the rest of the season.
Finally, for the non-football fans out there, I’ll give one update from another fall sport: Cross country. Former Sarasota High state champion Ben Hartvigsen, a true freshman, finished 41st overall in his first collegiate 8,000-meter race (25:11.8).out of 178 runners.
Not bad for your first time, huh?