TAMPA – Middle linebacker Michael Fruit is set to enter his third season as a member of Berkeley Prep varsity football. The rising junior is taking over defensive calls for the Buccaneers defense and that is something that he’s genuinely excited about.

At 5’10”, 185 lbs, Fruit also lines up as a fullback for Berkeley Prep. He said he learned a ton from just watching senior linebackers Adam Schwartz and Robert Baldy this past season.

“They were a big help in teaching me the defense along with different tips,” Fruit said. “During my sophomore season, I learned a lot about our defensive system and why I need to go to a certain place because somebody else on my team has the other place.”

Alongside Fruit will be the sons of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano, twins Matt Schiano and John Schiano, two rising juniors. On offense,

On offense, Ole Miss commit tight end Jacob Mathis departs but Berkeley Prep still has quarterback Davis Koetter for one more season. Fruit says he has seen Koetter put a lot of work in this off-season and he can he’s ready to help lead the team.

“Mathis and Koetter are great guys and leaders on and off the field. They were great during the games and also around the locker room making sure everyone knew what to do. Mathis is going to be missed. You don’t have many opportunities to play with a player like him.”

Fruit first took the field in sixth grade while playing for the Berkeley Prep middle school football team. He says he started gaining confidence last season when he was able to translate what he learned in practice into games.

Spring practices are in full swing around the state of Florida and for Fruit, he’s simply excited to be back out on the grass with his teammates. The Bucs travel to Admiral Farragut on Wednesday, May 18 for their spring game.

After rushing four times for 22 yards and a touchdown on offense and compiling 11 tackles (5 solo) and a sack as a sophomore, Fruit is poised to break out in 2016. He missed the final game of the season to Steinbrenner with a broken hand, but he’s back to 100 percent health.

Berkeley Prep missed out on the postseason finishing with a 6-4 record. Fruit and the Bucs are fortunate enough to have a Hillsborough County legend as their head coach, Dominick Ciao. Ciao enters his 10th season at Berkeley Prep after taking over in 2007. Prior to that, he was the head coach of Jesuit (1986-2002).

“Coach Ciao is one of the best high school coaches you can find. He makes everyone a better person and expects a lot out of us which in return makes us better people and players. His coaching staff has a lot of experience in not only football but also life. They’re always available if you need them.”

Doubling as a basketball player at Berkeley Prep, Fruit says it helps keep his cardio and speed up for football while football helps increase his strength for basketball.

No offers have come his way yet, but he wants to continue to put the work and improve his all-around game. He says his biggest strengths are his overall speed and knowledge of the game. On the flipside, he wants to improve his explosion at the next level while adding strength to his upper body.

When he gets on the field, Fruit is focused on getting better and not letting his teammates down.

“I want to be the best I can be, so our team can do the best we can do.”

Fruit credits both his parents and his football coaches as his biggest role models. He says they all teach him good virtues and how to be a great man.

In terms of his future in football, Fruit isn’t really thinking past the present, but he knows that he wants to use the sport as a great life experience.

“If football takes me farther then that’s great, but the memories that are made are priceless.”

Serving as a lead blocker for Gordon Stetson and the rotation of running backs that Berkeley Prep employs is something Fruit thrives doing. He’ll get the chance to showcase his true value as the signal caller in the middle of the defense. Expect Fruit to take that next step as he steps into a bigger role on both sides of the ball entering his junior campaign.

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Quick hitters

Favorite player to watch – Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt
Playlist before games – 2016 Rap station on Pandora
Fun fact about you, no one knows – ‘I’m taking a guitar class at school this year.”
Nickname from teammates or friends – ‘Fruity’
Funniest name you’ve been called – ‘Fruity Pebbles’

Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at jake.perper@hotmail.com.

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