Most Region 7-AAAAA football coaches took a little glee in Mikey Tamburo's graduation.
For three seasons, they've watched defenders chase the quick North Gwinnett lefty all over the field as he scrambled for big yards. They've watched him pick apart defenses with his accuracy and decision-making. A broken play could quickly become a touchdown with him at the helm.
Now he's at Boise State, which leaves North looking for a new starting quarterback for the first time since the 2006 season when Tamburo won the job.
Former wideout C.J. Uzomah, a rising junior, leads a current quarterback battle that also includes a pair of rising sophomores, Buford transfer Scotty Hosch and A.J. Clements.
"(The QB position) is jockeying itself pretty good," North head coach Bob Sphire said Monday, three days before his team hosts its first National Select 7-on-7 Qualifier. "C.J. Uzomah played receiver last year and JV quarterback, and he's done a good job of asserting himself this spring. ... You've really got three quarterbacks jockeying, but C.J.'s asserting himself pretty well."
It's not a huge surprise that Uzomah vaulted into the lead. He's more advanced physically than his fellow competitors at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds with a strong arm. He also runs the ball better, making him more of a Tamburo-like weapon.
Those skills make Uzomah (who caught five TD passes last season) a high-level college prospect, either at QB or receiver, but he's still got growing to do as a signal-caller. That also isn't a shocker for a kid who didn't play football until eighth grade.
"C.J.'s further along from a physical maturity standpoint," Sphire said. "Right now he's not spot on with anything. I can't really say he's really in a groove with anything (at the QB position). He gives us a good mix we like because he is a threat running the ball. And he gives us much more of a vertical game. He has a really strong arm and throws a nice deep ball."
Uzomah's task is replacing a quarterback who posted staggering numbers the previous three seasons. Tamburo accounted for 6,496 passing yards, 1,616 rushing yards and 88 TDs during that span.
But that hole isn't the only major one on the Bulldogs' offense. Playmaking hybrid Tyler Jarry also graduated, leaving North to replace the 3,293 total yards, 41 TDs and 125 catches he had the past two seasons as a running back/receiver.
"As much as it was Mikey, it was the people around Mikey, too," Sphire said. "Tyler Jarry brought such a neat dimension to our offense."
Exciting sophomore Joe Jones and senior C.C. Scott will fill Jarry's spot, while sophomore Raahmil Brantley will likely start at the other running back position.