Talk about coming from nowhere; that would chronicle the growth of Hernando High senior Steven Jamal Delaine.
The 17-year-old was born in St. Petersburg, but raised in Brooksville as the youngest of three children to Harry and Sonja Delaine.
Delaine wants to prove to classmates, friends and teammates that he’s no flash in the pan.
The current 5-foot-11, 220-pounder’s first swing in athletics was on a baseball field for the Hernando Youth League at the T-Ball level.
After one season, however, he opted for football and has never left.
At the HYL level, he played for five years alternating as an offensive lineman, defensive lineman and linebacker.
After he reached Parrott Middle School, he played basketball as a seventh- and eighth-grader.
On the gridiron, he played offensive guard and defensive line again as a seventh- and eighth-grader.
Upon matriculating to Hernando, Delaine’s athletic progress was curtailed injuries.
As a freshman, he injured his knee. Despite being promoted to the varsity level twice, he was slowed by rehabilitation and as a result didn’t record one tackle in each of his early appearances across his first two seasons.
It was a completely different story last fall for the second cousin to 2010 Hernando Today Player of the Year Alvin Delaine. As the team’s starting nose guard, opposing teams began to take notice.
From a three-technique where he lined up in front of the center, Delaine managed 55 tackles, including nine tackles behind the line and 2½ sacks.
His efforts landed him on the 2013 All-County team.
“Though I was called up to varsity my first two years, I really didn’t take it seriously,” explained Delaine, who bench presses 315 pounds.
Under HHS’ new defensive coordinator Mike Einspahr, Delaine has been switched from nose guard to linebacker.
“Coach Einspahr has told me I just need to take care of my responsibilities,” he said. “As long as everyone does their thing, the rest will come. We’re like a family on defense. When you’re playing for the guy next to you, you tend to go harder; you’ll sacrifice your body a little more.”
“I want to play for my brothers,” noted Delaine. “My responsibilities are to control certain things, but I’m still going 100 miles per hour when I’m out there.”
On the biggest change from last year’s Leopard defense that surrendered 34 touchdowns and 251 points (25.1 points per game), “We lost some athletes,” pointed out Delaine, who lists his favorite class as science and carries a 2.3 grade point average. “Now, we have to have guys step up.”
On opening up the season with arduous back-to-back trips to Duval County against state powerhouses Jacksonville-Bolles School and Jacksonville-Bishop Kenny, “I love the challenge,” insisted Delaine. “My brothers do, too. Nothing comes easy, we have to prove ourselves.”
Delaine mentions no stats as his goals this season.
“I want what’s best for everyone; I play for the guy beside me,” he said. “It’s not just about me; it’s about all of us. I know I have to give it my all and learn to love and trust my teammates. It’s really more about commitment and not playing selfishly.”
Looking at the bigger picture after next June’s commencement exercises, “Sure, I’ve always dreamed about playing in the league (NFL),” he said. “But I’ll do whatever God asks. I want to do my best. Whether that’s flipping burgers or playing football; whatever it is, I want to love doing it. That’s what I’ve been taught to do.”
By the Numbers: Hernando’s Steven Delaine
- Compiled by TONY CASTRO
YR SOLO ASST TTK TBL SK QBP CF FR PB BLK INT
2013 16 39 55 9.0 2.5 1 0 1 1 0 0