LAKELAND, Fla. — Deyavie Hammond is home.
That’s how the senior offensive lineman feels playing for Lakeland. Hammond, a former Alabama commit, spent his junior year in Bradenton at IMG Academy. A place where some of the best high school football players go to hone their skills for college.
“Just to play against that type of competition," said Hammond, who is the 12th best offensive guard prospect for the 2019 college recruiting class. "Seeing that intensity and that high level. I wanted to bring that back home and show everybody that is what football is like at the next level.”
But Deyavie also wanted to hone his skills to return to Lakeland to help the Dreadnaughts get back to a state championship.
“I know what I came back for and it has just been a dream come true and being with my teammates who have been here since freshmen year and it’s just really been a big dream for us and now we gotta bring it back home.”
"Deyavie has been a great leader for our offensive line," said offensive line coach Caleb Pickrell. "He was a great player before IMG, then went down, got some great coaching and now he is back with us ready to work hard and help us win a state title."
Deyavie leads an offensive line that has paved the way for a Dreadnaughts rushing attacking averaging around 270 yards a game.That’s higher than Lakeland’s last state championship team in 2006 with former Dreadnaught great - Chris Rainey.
“That team with Chris Rainey definitely a great team, actually an amazing team," said Hammond. "They went to state with an undefeated season. We are just kind of stepping right behind them, really.”
“Well that team had the Pouncey twins," said head coach Bill Castle with a big smile. Castle is in his first state title game since 2008 and is looking to win for the first time since 2006. "But this team has a lot of great talent. Our offensive line has really developed nicely this year.”
Having that type of potent ability on offense will be key for the Dreadnaughts who face a team similar to IMG Academy — St. Thomas Aquinas, whose entire starting 11 on defense are committed to Power 5 schools like Ohio State and Alabama.
“They are an elite team and they come with a lot of hype but I feel like my team can be just as good as them and even better as them,” said Hammond.
Deyavie is hoping to help push this Lakeland team across the finish line on Friday night and give Bill Castle his 7th State title, but also for the team he has watched all of his life.
"This would mean everything to do it for my team, for Lakeland. Just to be able to do this would mean a lot to me and my family, so we need to go and get this done."
Winning for his coach. Winning for his city. Deyavie Hammond is ready to bring a state championship back home on Friday night.