TAMPA, Fla. – When describing his staff at Tampa (Fla.) Plant, head coach Robert Weiner often talks about defensive backs coach Bo Puckett as energetic and fiery.
But Puckett’s intensity wasn’t on display Monday as he watched three-star safety Paris Bostick announce his commitment to Georgia. And although the coach tried to hide his emotions, the watery eyes were a dead giveaway.
“This is a big win for everything that we live by at Plant,” Puckett said. “Coach Weiner has always stressed investing in our kids on and off the field.
“And Paris is such a tremendous young man. He and I both grew up in similar situations and in many cases those situations don’t end well.”
At times Puckett and Weiner had to show Bostick tough love and that there were consequences for his actions. When Bostick was benched for the Class 8A championship game it was a tough choice to make but when Puckett sees the way Bostick has responded he knew it was the right move.
“Paris continues to develop and every day you see him getting smarter and really grasping everything that expected of him,” Puckett said. “The end of last season was a big setback for him and for us but we didn’t want it to be the final story. And more important, Paris didn’t want it to be the final story.”
On the field Puckett says Bostick has quickly embraced the aggressive play and physicality that’s expected from a strong safety. Already at 210 pounds, Puckett believes Bostick will be more of a hybrid at the next level.
“You can use him at strong safety and at linebacker because you see Alabama and more of the SEC programs using those formations where they need hybrid players,” Puckett said. “He’s got a great nose for the football and a natural football IQ. He’s cut from that mold like many of the strong safeties I’ve coached here but he’s also a dynamic athlete.”
Bostick has played five positions at Plant and Weiner admits that Bostick is so athletically gifted that it took time to commit him to one position.
However now that Bostick has embraced the physical side of the game it’s up to Weiner and his defensive staff to continue to figure out how to use Bostick in the best way.
“Sometimes I look at what he brings to the table and it’s hard to not to line him up closer to the football,” Weiner said. “But what separates him from a lot of the strong safeties out there is that he has exceptional cover skills. He can cover as well as any of our cornerbacks.
“It’s an embarrassment of riches but I know that the coaches at Georgia will use him in the best fashion.”
One can say that Plant and Georgia have developed quite the pipeline with quarterback Aaron Murray and tight end Orson Charles playing for the Bulldogs during the last four years. Weiner credits coach Mark Richt and his staff for building a program that players feel comfortable at.
“Coach Richt is a tremendous man first and foremost,” Weiner said. “Everyone already knows he’s a tremendous coach and the fact that he puts family first and he puts relationships first is what attracts many players to the Georgia program.
“It’s more than football at Georgia; it’s about building strong, honorable men that can do great things. That’s why Aaron and Orson went and I know that’s a lot of the reason why Paris is going.”