by Jackson Shewey and Jack Ward

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. - The Tarpon Springs Pirates coaches got their first opportunity to evaluate their players at the combine this weekend. The combine gave players, new and returning, a chance to showcase their skills. They were tested in various events such as a 40-yard dash, footwork and blocking drills, and route running.

Forty-one athletes showed out at the combine, creating a difficult competition for a roster spot on the Pirates. A few of those players were returners from last season, including the leading receiver Michael Minges.

The quarterback position was deep at the combine: quarterbacks Gavin Denboer and Brandon Swift challenge returner Nate Munson. When asked about the competition, Munson seemed pretty confident in his abilities.

“You know there’s always a friendly competition, but I know what I’m capable of,” Munson said. “I don’t worry what the other guys can do.”

The Pirates front office has also been busy recruiting talent for their championship drive, such as new defensive tackle Jabari Dean.

“There was a lot of good energy out here today,” Dean said. “A bunch of guys are coming out here to compete, giving it everything they have, and that’s all that matters.”

Players looking for a spot on the defensive side of the ball hoped to impress new defensive coordinator Ricky Rausch as he looks to implement his scheme.

The combine overall was a success for the Pirates. They brought an abundance of talent on the field, and the new coaches have brought their skillset to Tarpon Springs.

“I have been sitting down and doing some meetings with the coaches, and I’m excited for what they’re bringing to the table.” Team captain and Pirate veteran Anthony Van Pelt said. “Everyone is on the same page; everyone is looking to win or go home. That is what the motto is here.”

 Practices and workouts leading up to the beginning of the season will further help the coaching staff determine which players will give the team the best chance of success this season. The Pirates first game comes in the preseason against Central Florida Centurions on December 17th.