Student-Athlete Spotlight

Student-Athlete Spotlight: Sahuarita’s Speedster Tanner-James Friend is running a series of brief stories about Southern Arizona high school senior student-athletes entering this school year. The series, first-person accounts from the student-athletes, continues with a profile on Sahuarita athlete Tanner-James Friend, who plays at receiver and defensive back.

Tanner-James Friend

School: Sahuarita

College scholarship offers: Concordia (Minn.) and Wisconsin-River Falls.

Honors/background: 2019 Class 3A All-Southern Arizona second-team selection.

As a young kid growing up, I was never drawn to football. That was until my father sat me down in front of the TV and proceeded to watch Sunday Night Football every Sunday and it was off from there.

Tanner-James Friend (Sahuarita photo)

I didn’t play football until my eighth grade year. I was small but quick. I never played on a team, but my father and I constantly threw the pigskin. I was ready for everything that was about to come my way except hitting.

I was benched the entire year. I wasn’t as strong or physical as the others. I made up my mind I’d go to a high school up north from where I lived, which is now Sahuarita.

I never wanted to experience that feeling of being a second- or third-string player ever again so I worked A LOT and adopted a new kind of persona during football. I became confident and my hunger for competition grew huge.

I constantly challenged myself. I played varsity as a freshman but didn’t play my sophomore year because I had conflicts with our new coaching staff. In my junior year, I decided football was my passion and I would play regardless of the situation.

My junior year didn’t go as I wanted. Being a receiver in a triple-option offense was frustrating. I had to accept a team-first mentally but I also knew I needed the ball in hopes of playing college football.

Despite that, I was still able to rack up some attention from scouts having Division III offers and then DII offers. Being that I am making the switch to A-back my senior season I will have the opportunity to get the ball more. I have hopes my dreams of playing DI football will happen.

I’ve been working crazy hard not only for football but also for track being a speed guy. Most importantly, I am working hard on my academics to be able to attend any college of my choice and walk-on, if God forbid my talents go unnoticed.

Gaining nearly 15 pounds in muscle and becoming more explosive and a student of the game, I know I’ll turn heads my senior season.

My greatest hope for the 2020-21 season would be we can put together a successful hungry team as well as a offense with more passing. What I most like about my team this year is the bond, something we didn’t have last year.

As far as after school, I have dreams of owning an athletic training company such as JLT (Jamal Liggin Training) but on a much larger scale.

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