Glades Central's Greg Dent quietly making mark as top area receiver
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
by Jason Lieser
BELLE GLADE Aside from the 300 or so text messages he sends each day, Glades Central senior Greg Dent has very little to say.
And that's fine, especially when his fingers are as nimble catching footballs as they are tapping on his Samsung flip phone.
Neither his size (5-foot-11, 182 pounds) nor his speed (4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash) is considered elite for a wide receiver, but Dent's rigid route-running and instinctive ball skills have made him one of the area's most dangerous offensive threats. Through three games, Dent leads top-ranked Glades Central with 11 receptions and 229 receiving yards and has an area-best four touchdown catches.
'I'm starting off good, but as the season goes, I think I'm going to play much better,' said Dent, whose undefeated Raiders visit No. 8 Royal Palm Beach on Friday. 'I've made key blocks when I've needed to, caught the ball when I've needed to.'
Even if Dent prefers not to discuss his impressive performances count that as another unusual characteristic for a receiver other players and coaches are doing plenty of talking for him.
Prior to his team's season-opening game against the Raiders, Dwyer coach Jack Daniels interrupted a film session to emphasize the importance of monitoring where No. 5 Dent lines up before each snap, which is typically in the slot. Most of the pre-season hype surrounded Glades Central junior Kelvin Benjamin, a 6-foot-6 target who already has a scholarship offers from Florida and other BCS schools, but Dent was the one who worried Daniels.
'I've seen him run right by people,' Daniels said. 'He accelerates out of his breaks and creates separation.'
Dent confirmed Daniels' concern in that game, a 21-7 win by the Raiders, with a 63-yard touchdown catch and an interception at cornerback.
This week, when coaches from Florida State and West Virginia spoke with Daniels about his own players, they also asked his opinion on Dent. Daniels thinks both schools will offer Dent a scholarship soon. As of now, he has offers from Miami and Florida International, but he said this week he likely would commit to the Seminoles if they offer. He also ends every text message with 'FSU PLAYMAKER#5.'
One Florida State alum who thinks the Seminoles should offer Dent is Glades Central coach Jessie Hester. Hester played receiver in the NFL for 11 seasons at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds and thinks Dent is capable of achieving similar success.
Hester was furious with his receivers for running incorrect and sloppy routes in the team's pre-season loss to Miami Carol City, but Dent has been instrumental in that unit's improvement simply by the example he provides.
While some receivers tend to cut off a route early or improvise at the line of scrimmage, Hester said Dent is a patient technician who learns quickly.
'If we tell him to go 12 yards, he goes 12 yards,' Hester said. 'You only have to tell him once, which is helping the other kids. They see how he's doing it and the rest of them emulate that.'
Hester also credited him as one of the five or six hardest working players in Glades Central's practices and said he has been reliable off the field, as well. He could not recall a complaint from any of Dent's teachers.
Dent, 19, was not always so consistent. He did not start playing football until eighth grade in part because of his poor attendance at school and delinquent activities. He said he was arrested for once for fighting and another time for trespassing. Those issues led to him repeating fifth and seventh grade, Dent said.
As a seventh grader at Pahokee Middle-Senior High, Dent often rode the bus to campus, then immediately left with friends to spend the day 'looking at TV or whatever.' When his mother discovered his truancy habit, she sent him to live with a family friend in Belle Glade, where he attended Lake Shore Middle before enrolling at Glades Central.
'When I was young, I made dumb decisions,' said Dent, who is now a competent student particularly excelling in math and science. 'I wasn't hanging around the right people.
'I think that was my evil side. But I wanted to play football and I knew I had to go to school. I saw people on the streets that could've made it. That changed me, too.'
The difference is noticeable both in and out of football. On the field or in class, Dent follows a simple creed: 'I listen. I follow directions. I do my work.'