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NCT's Wadsworth signs with Geneva College

TONY CASTRO Hernando Today correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 04:34 PM

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In less than eight weeks, Nature Coast opens its ninth gridiron season against the visiting Crystal River Pirates.

One of the areas of concern is how the Sharks replace the three bulldozers along their 2011 offensive line: Greg Jarque, Lance LeDoux and Robert "Robbie" Joseph Wadsworth.

The hefty trio enabled NCT to plow for 2,470 total offensive yards – featuring 90 percent (or 2,227 yards) via the rush.

How run-dominant were the Sharks? Recall that 86 percent — or 25 of 29 offensive touchdowns — arrived via the ground.

Sensational Sharks running back Matt Breida excelled in 2011. Breida is the poster child of the NCT veer option offense.

Breida, who represented 69 percent of his team's offensive production, rushed for a county-high 1,613 yards — or nearly 8 yards per carry — while amassing 21 touchdowns.

Yet, the recent 2012 commencement exercises on the California Street campus claimed Nature Coast's three finest people movers, creating voids along the O-line that must be filled.

The 6-foot-3, 285-pound Jarque has seen his stock significantly rise since the state wrestling finals, and is expected to land on the collegiate mats this fall.

LeDoux originally signed with State University of New York's Maritime College in Throggs Neck, N.Y., but reversed his field to commit to the Bethel College football program in Kansas.

Meanwhile, Wadsworth signed to play football at Division III Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa.

* * * * *

Robbie is the youngest of three children to David and Jeanette Wadsworth. Robbie was born in Dunedin. His family has called Spring Hill home for 12-plus years.

Robbie's older twin siblings — Kaitlin and Michael — graduated from NCT in 2009. Kaitlin was an outstanding softball player and graduated as the school's salutatorian.

For the past 10 years, the 18-year-old Robbie has been a gym rat. Now standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 240 pounds, he began his athletic career at 8 years old playing offensive tackle for the area's Screaming Eagles.

For parts of the next six seasons he also played Little League baseball, alternating among second base, shortstop and left field.

It turns out two sports weren't enough to satisfy Wadsworth's athletic fix.

As a sixth-grader, he served as goalkeeper for the local Red Raiders soccer team that played in the Sunshine Cup. He continued to play soccer for two more campaigns.

In middle school, Wadsworth played football during his seventh- and eighth-grade seasons at Challenger K-8. He played both center and right tackle for the Navigators.

Displaying his versatility, Wadsworth also threw the discus and shot put as an eighth-grader at Challenger.

Even as Wadsworth matriculated at NCT, he continued to play multiple sports.

He earned four letters in football, two in junior varsity and two on varsity — mostly playing either left tackle or quick tackle.

In soccer, he played on the JV level as a freshman goalie. In track and field, he threw the discus and shot as a senior.

As with football, Wadsworth participated in weightlifting for four seasons.

Despite his athletic versatility, Wadsworth quickly summed up his favorite pastimes.

"My best team sport is football. I was drawn in by NCT's family atmosphere," he said. "In football, even if you're a great athlete like, say, Matt Breda, you can't do it all by yourself.

"I think my best individual sport is weightlifting," added Wadsworth. "Weightlifting has certainly helped me get stronger. It's helped me prepare for football season."

Wadsworth was quick to point out which side of the line of scrimmage he prefers.

"I'm an offensive guy. I like knowing where we're going on the next play. I also know the snap count and I love to hit somebody across from me," he said. "It's a lot of fun.

"I like playing offensive line because that's where I feel I can make a difference in a game," he continued. "Guys like Matt (Breida) get the glory, but he knows he's not the guy pushing a 350-pound kid out of his way for him to score."

After back-to-back 5-5 seasons, Wadsworth was asked to describe his NCT football experience.

"We had four different head coaches in four years — that's a lot of different game plans," he responded. "You had to earn one guy's respect and then another. It was hard to digest four different playbooks.

"Personally, I felt like we left a lot of points on the field," Wadsworth said. "Like a lot of teams, we had to deal with what we had on-hand."

* * * * *

In whittling down his choices for college, Wadsworth's short list included Stetson, Florida Tech and Geneva.

Both Stetson and Florida Tech are in the process of introducing football.

"I loved Florida Tech," Wadsworth said. "But they weren't playing for another year or so; same thing with Stetson. Academically, both were good choices."

Wadsworth, however, was sold on Geneva after his visit there.

"First of all, Geneva handled my major — mechanical engineering, which was big — and I wouldn't be in the hole nearly $18,000 per year if I went there," Wadsworth said. "The football coaches at Geneva have all been there like 10 years or more; there's a sense of stability.

"I got the feeling I could not only get my degree there, but that I belonged there," Wadsworth said. "I realize its 1,300 miles away from Spring Hill, but it really felt like home."

Wadsworth joins a Golden Tornado squad that finished 4-6 in 2011 under veteran head coach Geno DeMarco.

According to Wadsworth, the climate change is nothing to worry about.

"I really don't see that as a concern," he said. "If I could get used to playing in the Florida heat, I think I can handle the cold.

"I think I bring a sense of perseverance to Geneva," Wadsworth said. "In football, whatever happens, happens. I'm the type of guy that doesn't quit. I want our guys to drill as best they can. If you take plays off in practice, you'll take plays off in the game."

On his next goal, he said: "I want to get as strong as I can. To be successful at the next level, you've got to sacrifice to reach your goals."

Interestingly, Wadsworth is a true student-athlete. He graduated among the top 20 students in his 310-member graduating class, departing NCT with a brilliant 4.137 GPA in the culinary cluster.

Wadsworth understands the key to success at the next level begins in the classroom.

"There's a huge difference between high school and college," he pointed out. "Academically, the big thing is managing your time."

Before reporting to Geneva on Aug. 7, Wadsworth will continue to work out at the YMCA in Spring Hill. He also works part-time for Publix, and lends a hand when there's work with his father's construction and landscaping businesses.

"I owe a lot to my whole family," he said. "They've helped me through the ups and the downs.

"I owe a lot to Coach," he added, referring to NCT's Charles Liggett. "It's like he always knew what to say to us.

"And I owe a lot to my Aunt Lisa, too. She had troubles as she grew up. Things were tough but she found a way to push through," recalled Wadsworth. "She'd tell me 'You don't have to be like me'."

Though Wadsworth understands that offensive linemen rarely make headlines, he wants to be remembered simply as "one of the guys that in the fourth quarter never gave up and did his best along the way."

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