Southlake defensive back coach Terrance Larmond has been a mainstay along the side of Nick Waisome whenever the star cornerback ventures off to a camp or combine. The connection was made early in Waisome's career and before he was even playing the position.
“When I first got to South Lake in the summer before his sophomore year he was playing receiver,” Larmond said. “I got there and the defensive staff was full, so I had to coach the receivers. I coached receivers and Nick was playing receiver and you could always see the quickness and the speed, it was always there.”
As most young guys go, Waisome was a bit of a follower and not a leader. That sophomore year he was playing behind several older guys and even with his speed and athletic ability, he wasn't aggressive enough to try and unseat the veterans.
“We had some senior guys that were at receiver and he would always defer to them,” Larmond said. “I had to tell him he needed to jump in and get more reps.”
Larmond got a kick out of talking about the first time Nick got a chance to possibly go in the game. That chance came and went in a flash.
“I remember in tenth grade, during a game, Coach Banks turned to me and said he needed a receiver to sub in,” Larmond said as he chuckled. I turned and saw Nick and all I could see was how HUGE his eyes were and I turned right passed him and got someone else.”
Eventually Waisome settled down got a little more aggressive and got some playing time on the field and had a decent sophomore season.
“It all started when we went to the Under Armour skill competition for underclassmen in Tampa for the Super Bowl,” Larmond said. “I took him, Jordan Montgomery and a few other teammates. They ended up wining the whole competition and received $5,000 worth of equipment from Under-Armour for the school.”
The physical ability for Waisome was actually noticed at the skills competition by one of the coaches working the event. Don Cox coaches defensive backs for the Under Armour combines and skills camps and told Larmond that Waisome should look into playing cornerback, a position that he could physically excel at.
“Coach Cox, coaching at the combine came to me afterward and said he was watching Nick in the drills and with his back pedal and he asked if Nick played DB?,” Larmond said. “I told him he was a receiver. Coach Cox just said he was natural and we should try him.”
His lack of playing time at receiver was the impetus to eventually push him to corner. Larmond approached Coach banks about making the move.
“Coach Banks said we could work him out at DB,” Larmond said. “From then on, he would go out after basketball practices and other things at school and he would just work. He put in all this time when all the other guys didn't. They were all invited to come out, but Nick was the guy that did.”
Just a couple of months later, Waisome was already seeing the extra work paying off.
“We went down to the Under Armour combine in Miami and he went against some really good competition,” Larmond said. “It was the first time he covered anyone outside of our own school. Guys like Quinton Dunbar, Demar Dorsey, Lamarcus Joyner, Jonathan Dowling, all older kids that were among the best in the 2010 class. He held his own and was picked as one of the top ten corners there.”
Waisome knew what he now had to do. He saw the proverbial light and was attracted to it like a moth.
“That built up his confidence, because he did fairly well,” Larmond said.
That confidence helped build a trust between Waisome and Larmond and the two started hitting every camp and combine they could get to, in order to improve his game even more.
“A lot of people don't understand Nick and my relationship,” Larmond said. “No one knew what I could do as far as coaching DB's and no one knew what he could do at a new position. It took a real leap of faith to make it all happen.
“He went to a Jacksonville camp and was excellent. Then on to Atlanta and more and more and it just built up.”
Suddenly the big break came and this is where I first saw Nick Waisome.
“Then, the Badger Sports 7 on 7 tournament in Tampa and all the media and talent was there,” Larmond said. “In the first day he didn't give up a single reception and he got a big interception against Christian Green (Florida State freshman receiver) and fought him for the ball.
“Nick was on a team with a lot of great players and he was just a 'throw in' guy on the team. After that he started getting a lot of respect and word out. In the end, all that stuff built his confidence and once that confidence is there, that is a whole different animal.”
Waisome figured out that other guys weren't working as hard as he was working. He continued to work hard and make himself better. Before he ever played a down on defense in high school, the offers started coming in from colleges around the state that he camped at in the summer.
“He had all the in-state offers before the season started,” Larmond said of Waisome. “He had offers from Florida, Florida State, Miami, and UCF and hadn't played a down at cornerback in a game yet.”
As a junior, Waisome had a great year actually playing both sides of the ball. In his first game he had a 60 yard interception as a corner. In a later game he shut down Christian Green and had an interception over him. He didn't allow Green to catch a pass. He played three division one players in 2009 and gave up a total of two passes against them.
Now he is about to begin his senior season. He has his recruitment behind him and he can concentrate on playing football. Despite not having that apple dangling in front of his face anymore, Larmond says Waisome is the kind of guy that still wants to get better every single day.
“One of the things that sets him apart from other guys is his drive,” he said of his star pupil. “He had about 30 offers in January this year, but he still went out after school every day. The great thing is, once Nick got all those offers, every single DB on the team went out after school and started doing extra work because they wanted to be like Nick. A year ago, he was by himself.”
Waisome isn't a finished product and he knows that. That finished product will come when he can get on a very structured weight program and gain some needed muscle mass.
“He knows he has to gain weight,” Larmond said. “He has to gain more weight to take his game to the next level. He has gotten a lot stronger in the wight room. His numbers are very good for a kid that is around 170 pounds. He power cleans 265, maxes out at 270 on the bench, and squats just under 400 pounds. He is very strong for his size and is in the best shape of his life.
“When he gets to where he is going he isn't going to be a guy that has to redshirt because they have to teach him how to play the position, he is technically sound. His biggest thing is going to be his physical growth. He knows he can do things at 170 that he couldn't do at 165...he can challenge bigger guys. When they get him up to 185 or 190 that is when he will take the next big strides.”
Filling a need at Florida by Cody Jones
The addition of Nick Waisome to the Florida recruiting class is important because of the talent the Gators lose at the cornerback position after the 2010 season.
Florida only graduates one cornerback from the team, senior Moses Jenkins. However, it will likely be worse than that. Junior Janoris Jenkins has trimmed down and moved to the boundary cornerback position, the same one that saw Joe Haden put together a huge 2009 season that made him the No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Jenkins is already viewed as one of the top cornerbacks in the country, and it’s likely that he will leave for the NFL after this season.
Assuming Jenkins heads to the NFL, the Gators will be left with four returning scholarship cornerbacks. Jeremy Brown, Jaylen Watkins, Josh Shaw and Cody Riggs will be the only scholarship cornerbacks who are expected to return for 2011.
Brown is expected to be the second starting cornerback for the Gators in 2010. Even if he doesn’t win it this year, he will be the most experienced cornerback and almost assured a starting position in 2011. This would open up a battle for the second cornerback spot between any available bodies.
The lack of depth leaves the ability for a freshman to see the field in 2011. The three current cornerbacks commitments are Pop Saunders, Loucheiz Purifoy and Waisome. All three have the chance to be involved in the battle for the second cornerback position next year and see the field as freshmen.
Even if their playing time doesn’t come as a starting cornerback, they will likely have an opportunity to play special teams.
The boost to Florida's recruiting class by Laura McKeeman
The addition of Nick Waisome to this 2011 class makes it three CB’s. Waisome joins Deante “Pop” Saunders and Louchiez Purifoy to create a three-headed DB monster. This begs the question, is Florida done with the corner position in 2011?
The fourth cornerback in this class could be Valdez Showers. Showers recently named a top six, which includes Florida, Auburn, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and Iowa. Florida will play the waiting game with Showers but, by all accounts, the Gators have made a nice haul at DB this year. In a year that is relatively lacking in secondary talent, Florida welcomes a four star talent in Waisome and two three stars in Purifoy and Saunders. Showers would be the icing on a very solid cake.
Each of these three corners brings versatility to 2011, but they have specific strengths to boot.
Waisome makes plays and has an excellent quickness about him. He is a true cover corner and will add weight on the next level.
Pop Saunders is powerful and has an innate ability to break up plays and create issues for receivers. He gets involved on the field and puts himself in situations where he can get things done.
Louchiez Purifoy impressed with his speed, running a 4.38 40-yard-dash at Florida camp. He has nice, fluid hips and will fill the need for a bigger corner at 6-foot, 180 pounds.
Then, if Florida is able to snag Showers, that will finish out the CB class with another four-star prospect who is an excellent athlete. Showers has shown he needs a little more experience at the CB position but he has great instincts so he should improve fast.
All together, this class of defensive backs looks very strong. It is not a year filled with a wealth of talent at this position and Florida has managed to pick up some dynamic playmakers with huge upside. If they are able to add a fourth, the secondary haul will be nothing less than impressive.