Young quarterbacks go through growing pains, no matter what the level.
For Mandeville junior signal-caller DeVon Tott, he hopes he learned his lesson from a trying 2018 campaign.
The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Tott threw for 1,418 yards on 106 of 218 passes for 10 touchdowns and four interceptions his sophomore campaign as Mandeville struggled last season to a 3-6 record.
“It’s hard to describe just how much more comfortable I am now,” Tott said. “With a year of experience under my belt now, man, I’m like a completely different person. I’ll use this as an example: when a play is called, and it comes into the huddle I already know how the defense is going to respond and what my adjustment must be. That wasn’t the case last season.”
Losing his starting job for a pair of games last season, Tott said that he uses the struggles he had as a sophomore as motivation and drive heading into the 2019 season.
“Not just me, but the entire team,” he said. “A 3-6 season at Mandeville High isn’t up to this program’s standards. It makes me want to come back even harder to try and atone for what happened last year.”
One glaring difference for Tott is a new man signaling in the plays as Michael Manguno takes over as the new offensive coordinator for the Skippers.
“Not a lot has changed with (Manguno) taking over,” Tott said. “Actually, it’s more beneficial for me having (head coach) Hutch Gonzales not calling plays anymore, because last season he was trying to teach the wide receivers and quarterbacks in addition to having to call the plays. Now, I can come to the sidelines after a possession and he and I can talk, and he can coach me and help me become a better quarterback.”
While Manguno wasn’t here during Tott’s inaugural season in a Skipper uniform, he said he has been impressed with his junior signal-caller’s work ethic.
“He has a desire to get better,” Manguno said. “He never passes up a rep. Mistakes are unacceptable to DeVon Tott. A kid who has an internal fire like that, as a coach, you can work with that.
“Granted, with some new verbiage on offense and only nine days of work (for spring practice), that’s a lot of work to squeeze into a tight schedule. Tott had to learn more than any other football player on this team this spring. He took it on and faced it and hit it as hard as he possibly could. There’s a lot of growth to still come this summer and he knows that.”
For Manguno and Tott, that growth is expected to come through multiple different 7 on 7 tournaments throughout the summer.
“Absolutely,” he said. “He has to use this summer to get a feel and a rhythm with his running backs and wide receivers. That’s what 7 on 7’s are good for. Is it true football, scheme and opposing defenses you are going up against? Probably not, but for the repetition it provides, you can’t put a price tag on that.”
Tott’s top target, senior wide receiver Will Sheppard, said the transformation for Tott has been evident.
“A marked improvement,” Sheppard said of his starting quarterback. “Better throws from him and more concentration. I feel like he is getting to know the game of football better now as opposed to this time a season ago. The speed of the game has seemed to slow down for him tremendously.”