“Put on for ‘the 850’” is a common phrase among local athletes – and not just high school ones.
Any time a local football team traveled for a playoff game – like Choctaw heading east to Nease – people vouched for the Indians to represent “the 850” well, summarizing the Emerald Coast’s pride into an area code label.
And that pride runs deep, and follows well beyond high school graduation. That’s why Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett said he is “trying to put on as best I can for the 850.” He has done just that.
Leggett’s breakout junior season earned him the All Sports Association Male Collegiate Award, with the awards ceremony on Feb. 12, and a main role in Monday’s National Championship game. Despite the 45-40 loss to Alabama, the Navarre High School graduate represented the Emerald Coast well. He finished with 78 yards from five receptions, the last a 24-yard touchdown reception with 12 seconds remaining in the game.
Leggett’s recognitions will not stop with the college football season’s conclusion. The Northwest Florida organization, which focuses on raising money for local youth- and sports-oriented non-profit organizations, has started rolling out its annual awards. Niceville senior quarterback Tyler Russell was named last week the Taylor Haugen trophy and award recipient. Ty Darlington, Oklahoma’s center, will receive the Wuerffel Trophy. Fort Walton Beach senior Tyler Cohen was named the Male Scholastic Award winner. Fellow senior Viking Emma Rudman and Choctaw senior basketball player Nadia Fingall were named the two Female Scholastic Award winners.
The FCA breakfast will be Feb. 12 at 7:30 a.m. and the awards banquet the same day at 6 p.m., with both events in the Emerald Coast Convention Center.
A two-time member of the Daily News All-Area team, Jordan graduated from Navarre in December 2012. A wide receiver in high school, the 6-foot, 6-inch, 250-pound Jordan converted to tight end for Clemson, which won the ACC Championship, routed Oklahoma in a College Football Playoff semifinal and finished 14-1.
He closed out the season with 525 receiving yards and eight touchdowns from 40 receptions, his best as a Tiger. Against Florida State, he had six receptions for 101 yards, a career best. Leggett, who committed to returning for his senior season Monday night, carries the Emerald Coast’s reputation along with his own. “I want the Navarre area on the map,” he said, “and show people there are some great athletes in the Panhandle.”