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Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer

Bob Putnam

Bob Putnam has covered high school sports for the Tampa Bay Times as a staff writer since 1996. He is a fourth-generation Floridian who graduated from Dixie Hollins High School and wrote for the student newspapers at St. Petersburg College and USF. He has covered the high school careers of football stars Riley Cooper (CCC/Florida/Philadelphia Eagles), Dante Fowler (Lakewood/Florida/Jacksonville Jaguars), Leonard Johnson (Largo/Iowa State/Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Dexter McCluster (Largo, Mississippi/Tennessee Titans), among others.

Phone: (727) 580-4395


  1. Proof's in the passing game pedigree at Plant


    Quarterback Dane Frantzen, who threw for more than 2,500 yards last season, graduated. So did 1,000-yarder Whop Philyor, as well as fellow receivers Christian Watson and Kyle Trina. No returning receiver for fall, in fact, had more than 140 yards a year ago.

    So, just how will Plant's revamped passing game fare? ...

    Plant coach Robert Weiner on transfer quarterback Jordan McCloud: "Jordan has been the key to our success. ... He has such good command of the offense and has become a vocal leader."
  2. Wiregrass Ranch's Jordan Miner commits to Penn State


    Wiregrass Ranch defensive back Jordan Miner said Thursday that he was committing to Penn State. 

    Miner made his announcement on Spectrum Sports. He chose the Nitany Lions over Florida, Maryland, Oregon and Tennessee. 

    A four-star recruit, Miner is ranked among the top 50 players in the state. He had 29 offers before whittling his list down to a top five. 

    Last year, Miner had 38 tackles, three interceptions, a forced fumble and a blocked field goal. He led the Bulls to a playoff appearance as a district runnerup. ...

    Wiregrass Ranch's Jordan Miner catches a pass against Wharton
  3. Melanie Margalis, Robert Finke each secure spots on US National Swim Team


    A pair of Countryside swimming standouts, past and present, will represent the U.S. National Team at the FINA World Championships July 14-30 in Budapest.

    Melanie Margalis, who graduated from Countryside in 2010, won the 200 IM in 2 minutes, 9.57 seconds at the U.S. National Championships. Her time ranks as the third-fastest in the world this year.

    Margalis won a gold medal in the 4x200 meter relay at the Rio Olympics after swimming a leg in the preliminaries. She also took fourth in the 200 IM in Rio....

    Former Countryside standout Melanie Margalis is on the US National Team
  4. Tampa Mustangs square off in national 14U softball final


    The Tampa Bay area has become a prime destination for college softball recruiters, especially underclassmen and middle schoolers.

    That talent was on display this week at the Colorado Fireworks Tournament in Denver. The Tampa Mustangs had a pair of 14U teams that advanced to the championship game of their power pool.

    In the all-Tampa final, the Mustangs-TJ beat the Mustangs-Hennigar 8-5. The game was televised on ESPN 3....

  5. Kyle Tucker, Bo Bichette each selected for Futures Game


    The bay area will be well represented at the Futures All-Star Game, scheduled July 9 at Miami’s Marlins Park as part of Major League Baseball’s all-star festivities.  

    Former Plant standout Kyle Tucker and former Lakewood star Bo Bichette were selected Thursday for the U.S. team.

    Tucker was the fifth overall selection by the Astros in the 2015 amateur draft. After hitting .288 with four home runs and 43 RBIs in 48 games for Advanced Class A Bouie Creek, Tucker was promoted to Corpus Christi in the Class AA Texas League.  In 25 games at Corpus Christi, Tucker is hitting .257 with six homers and 17 RBIs....

    Former Plant star Kyle Tucker is playing the Futures Game
  6. The hits keep coming for former Lakewood standout Bo Bichette


    Bo Bichette's rapid ascension up the Toronto Blue Jays’ organizational ladder is due in large part to his hitting ability.

    The former Lakewood High standout, who was selected in the second round (66th overall) by Toronto in last year’s amateur draft, started the season as the Blue Jays’ fifth-best prospect and one of the top 100 overall according to Baseball America....

    Former Lakewood standout Bo Bichette
  7. Countryside alum A.J. Andrews lands in ESPN's annual body issue (w/video)


    A.J. Andrews has taken over the spotlight in softball. Last year, the former Countryside High and LSU standout became the first female to win a Rawlings Gold Glove in the award's 59-year existence.

    Now Andrews will be among 23 athletes to be featured in ESPN The Magazine's body issue. Photos, interviews and videos of the athletes will debut on on July 5. The issue will hit newsstands two days later....

    Countryside's A.J. Andrews was the Times' 2011 all-Pinellas County Player of the Year. (Douglas R. Clifford, Times)
  8. Dallas Moore is ready to prove his NBA worth


    Dallas Moore could make history. The 6-foot-1 guard has a chance to become the first player from North Florida selected in the NBA draft. The former Boca Ciega standout also could be the first bay area player drafted since John Henson (Sickles/North Carolina) was taken in the first round in 2012.

    Moore, however, will not be glued to the television. In fact, Moore said he will most likely be working out at Eckerd College during the draft....

    North Florida's Dallas Moore playing against UConn this season.
  9. Kevin Knox tweaks hamstring at U19 tryouts


    For the past two years, Kevin Knox led USA Basketball’s junior national teams to world titles.

    The opportunity for a third was cut short Wednesday after Knox tweaked his hamstring during tryouts for the U19 team.

    Knox, a former Tampa Catholic standout who is entering his freshman season at Kentucky, was encouraged by Wildcats coach John Calipari to return to Lexington to heal....

    Kevin Knox at McDonald's All-American Game.
  10. Tampa Catholic's Tai Strickland transfers to St. Petersburg


    Tampa Catholic’s Tai Strickland transferred to St. Petersburg earlier this month.

    Strickland helped the Crusaders reach the state semifinals two years ago and the state title game this past season. His departure is a blow for Tampa Catholic, which already lost Kevin Knox to graduation. Knox (28.9 points per game) and Strickland (13.2) were the only two that averaged double figures in scoring for the Crusaders last year....

    Tai  Strickland in action at the state semifinals this past season.
  11. Wiregrass Ranch's Shamaur McDowell transfers to IMG


    Less than two weeks after committing to Minnesota, Shamaur McDowell made another big decision.

    On Tuesday, the senior defensive back said he was transferring from Wiregrass Ranch to IMG Academy.

    “My parents and I felt like it was the best decision,” McDowell said. “It will allow me to focus on being the best student-athlete I can be. It will also prepare me for the next stage in my life.”...

    Shamaur McDowell at practice this spring.
  12. Armwood's Warren Thompson commits to Oregon


    Warren Thompson was ready to commit to Oregon once he returned home from a visit last week.

    The Armwood receiver loved the coaching staff and the facilities. Still, Thompson did not want to make an impulse decision. So he waited a few days.

    He was weighing offers from North Carolina and FSU, the other two schools in his top three.

    All signs kept pointing to the Northwest. Thompson has three tattoos of douglas firs on his left arm and he saw those trees on his visit to Eugene. For the past two months, Thompson said he also noticed some ducks that kept strolling past his front yard....

    Armwood's Warren Thompson in action.
  13. Tampa Bay Times' all-Tampa Bay softball


    Hillsborough County Player of the Year: SS Hope Hernandez, Sr., Chamberlain

    Chris Urso | Times...

    From left, Land O' Lakes' Tia Williams, Palm Harbor University's Savanna Bennett, Canterbury's Taylor Bump, Land O' Lakes' Callie Turner and Chamberlain's Hope Hernandez. (Chris Urso, Times)
  14. Tampa Bay Times all-Hillsborough County softball


    Player of the year: Hope Hernandez, Sr., Chamberlain

    Pitcher of the year: Ashley Blessin, So., Plant City

    Coach of the year: Ashley Bullion, Plant City

    First team

    P Alexys Lawson, Jr., Bloomingdale

    P Haley Murphy, Jr., East Bay

    P Gabby Vallee, Jr., Chamberlain

    P Emalee Jansen, Sr., Steinbrenner

    C Chloe Boos, So., Academy of the Holy Names...

    Plant City pitcher Ashley Blessin (3) delivers a pitch in the bottom of the fourth during the Class 8A softball semi-final game between Plant City and Wellington at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., on Friday, May 19, 2017. Final score: Wellington 6, Plant City 1. (Andres Leiva, Times)
  15. Tampa Bay Times all-North Suncoast softball


    Player of the year: Tia Williams, Jr., Land O'Lakes

    Pitcher of the year: Callie Turner, So., Land O'Lakes

    Coach of the year: Mitch Wilkins, Land O'Lakes

    First team

    P Kama Woodall, Sr., Springstead

    P Alexis Kilfoyl, So., Academy at the Lakes

    P Jordan Almasy, Fr., Wesley Chapel

    P Ali Shenefield, So., Hernando

    C Paige Pfent, Jr., Springstead...

    Land O'Lakes shortstop Tia Williams (22) hits a double at the bottom of the fifth during the Class 6A softball title game between Land O'Lakes and American Heritage at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach. Final score: Land O'Lakes 3, American Heritage 1. (Andres Leiva, Times)