Oakes’ time to shine

Hartselle quarterback Trevor Oakes is ready to prove himself after waiting in line for three years

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

Three years is a long time to wait for an opportunity, but it is an opportunity that new Hartselle Tiger’s quarterback Trevor Oakes has deemed well worth the wait. Former Tiger’s quarterback Jake Tiffin, who has now graduated, was thrown into the starting spot as a sophomore in 2013, which meant that Oakes wouldn’t get the chance to start until his senior year. However, Oakes chose to not have a sour attitude about his luck with bad timing and instead has used the opportunity to hone his skills so that he could be as ready as possible when his time did come. With this attitude Oakes solidified himself as the unquestioned heir when the 2016 season comes around and has given Hartselle fans plenty to be excited about with flashes of playmaking ability through limited action.

Football was in Oakes’ blood from the age of five and was something he said he was always destined to play. However, he didn’t get his start in Hartselle as he was originally from Cotaco. “My family moved us to Hartselle once Tanner (his older brother) went into the fifth grade,” Oakes said “I think that was always my parents plans because Hartselle just offered better educational and sports opportunities.” From there, Oakes continued to move up the ranks in the Hartselle youth league by playing quarterback each year It was when he moved into seventh grade that he said he felt the greatest difficulty of change. “Moving from youth league to the seventh grade team was one of the hardest challenges I’ve faced,” Oakes said. “I had gotten so used to just picking a receiver and throwing it to him, so having to actually read the defense was hard.”

While Trevor was facing the struggles of transition to the JR. high team, his older brother was enjoying being part of the success of the Hartselle football team at their peak. In 2011, the Hartselle Tigers were in the middle of a 15-0 season, which took them all the way to the AHSAA 5A state championship at Bryant Denny Stadium where they defeated a loaded Vigor team 13-3 and claimed the school’s first football state title. Being able to watch his brother be a part of success was enough motivation for Oakes to gut it out through his struggles. “Just being able to watch him and be there on Friday nights was enough to motivate me to get there,” Oakes said “even having to see the tougher side like when Tanner came home completely beat from practice, it still just made me want to be in his shoes one day.” That motivation paid off for Oakes as he made a huge jump in his eighth grade year and helped lead his team to the Jr. high championship game.

From there Oakes moved on to high school to join the team he had been dreaming of being a part of for years, but things were much different than the team he had seen just two years earlier. In 2013, Hartselle was in a stage of limbo as they tried to figure out a depth chart after losing 15 seniors with starting experience. “Freshmen year was very interesting because no one knew what to expect of anybody” Oakes said “but of course I think that also allowed what I call the pioneers to come in, which were my brother and Connor (Shelton) and the other seniors that year.” What Oakes meant was that the seniors of 2013 were the first to be dealt with the task of overcoming the major adversity Hartselle has dealt with the past few years. “Hartselle has always been the underdog, I mean we are not the biggest guys around,” Oakes said, “but I think that year even more than years past we were written off early and being told we’d be lucky to win four games, and it was those seniors that really brought us through that.” Of course, Hartselle went on to play in the playoffs that year and have done so each year since, despite receiving similar preseason outlooks.

However, despite getting to learn under a great group of seniors, 2013 also served as Tiffin’s first year as a starter, which meant that it also started Oakes’ three-year wait. The long wait sometimes-even caused Oakes to contemplate whether he should stick with quarterback. “I won’t say that the thought never crossed my mind,” Oakes said, “but deep down I knew I wanted to be quarterback.”

The wait also turned into a blessing in disguise as it gave him the task of running the JV as a freshman, which is rare. “It was weird to be given the task of running JV as a freshmen” Oakes said “but I really think it helped me develop better as a player. JV to me is a very underrated part of high school football.”

Flash forward two years and Oakes was finally about to receive his first opportunity to play in big games on Friday night. Although Tiffin was still the starter, Oakes would enter the game at some point. “Before the season coach Godsey told me that I was going to play” Oakes said. “and it didn’t matter what game it was or what the score was I went in.” Oakes received limited playing time in each game and even managed a few touchdown throws before being sidelined in the eighth game of the season against Florence with an injury. “That injury was very discouraging mostly because it sidelined me and I really wanted to be out there with my team,” Oakes said, “but also I found out that I was going to have to undergo an MRI and if the results were bad I would have to have surgery. Luckily, I didn’t and I thank God for that everyday.” With the good results, Oakes was able to finish his recovery shortly and begin his prep for the 2016 season. His prep led him first to trainer Dave Jacob who has trained Alabama stars such as Mark Ingram. “I wanted to add some weight  and get quicker so I went to Dave” Oakes said “He gave me a meal plan and I ended up gaining 20 lbs. and I’m much more athletic now.” Oakes would also take part in multiple football camps that featured some of the best high school talent in the country. “After the season, me and dad started planning on these events to go to,” Oakes said. “You have to be invited, I had some tape, and luckily it was good enough. Among the camps he attended was the Elite 11, Rivals QB challenge, the 5-Star challenge and VTO Elite Sports 100. It was at these camps that he worked with talented athletes like 5-Star receiver Trevon Grimes and with quarterback coaches like Tom Rossley who had worked with NFL players like Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Tannehill among others. Oakes even took the MVP award at the VTO Elite.

However, with all this work Oakes is still weary of the hype he has coming in despite never starting a game. “My dad always brings up Jeremy Johnson,” Oakes said. “He reminds me that being physically ready and mentally ready is two different things.” Johnson, an Auburn quarterback, came into 2015 with Heisman expectations despite only starting a few games for injured starter Nic Marshall the previous two years. Johnson buckled under the hype and threw more interceptions than touchdowns in his first three games, which resulted in his benching. So far Oakes has handled everything all right. In the 2016 spring game, he led the Tigers to score on four of their five drives in the first half, which included him throwing two touchdown passes. Oakes knows the regular season will be different but also believes in his team and the players around him. Hartselle hasn’t won a region title, hosted a playoff game or gone past the first round of the playoffs since 2012 and fans are hungry to see them get back there. Oakes hopes that they can change that. “We have worked very hard this offseason,” Oakes said. “ We are tired for settling for just playoffs and are ready to move on to much more.” One thing is for sure is that this season promises to be an exciting one.

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