Scanning the field through the visor on his facemask, Juan Bullard looks to create chaos for an opposing defense every time he touches the ball.
East Hamilton's junior running back is blessed with limitless athletic ability. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder has a mixed bag of tools as he can stop on a dime, accelerate into the defense's second and third level in the blink of an eye and throw defenders out of his way. The weight room warrior can squat and deadlift over 430 pounds, but Bullard also has a great range of mobility which he has gained through taking care of his body by stretching and doing yoga.
Bullard has quickly become a beastly presence in the backfield for the Hurricanes after transfering from Ooltewah following his freshman season. Through his first 14 varsity games he has rushed for 2,100-plus yards and scored 30 touchdowns. This past Friday hehelped lead his team to a 42-34 road win over Class 5A Portland by rushing 20 times for 265 yards and four touchdowns.
For that effort, Bullard has earned the Times Free Press Player of the Week honor.
"I am very focused and not worried about anything outside of what I can control," Bullard said. "My pops could have been where I am but he had a lot of injuries in his football career. He's been telling me to protect myself and take care of my body. Every day I lock in and work hard and take time to pray. I stay humble and grounded and just keep trying to better myself and those around me."
Bullard showcased incredible determination on a 46-yard touchdown run against Portland, a win that improved the Hurricanes to 2-0 overall as they prepare for their first region game against East Ridge Friday. With the middle of the field heavily congested, Bullard stepped over a diving defender and used his broad shoulders and strong core to bounce off four more tacklers and get free down the left sideline. At the 15-yard line he met his last defender, which he sent flying out of the way with a stiff arm on his way to the end zone.
Big plays can happen at any moment with the ball in Bullard's hands. He already has three touchdowns of 60-plus yards this season, which included two against Ooltewah in the season opener.
"I would best describe myself as a power back/scat back. I have the speed and power and mobility to get where I need to be at on the field," said Bullard who has 354 rushing yards on 32 carries to go with a 69 receiving yards and six touchdowns in two games. "I really do feel more dangerous this season because of my O-line. They got better, more physical and are focused. I think we all are more confident than last year and our line has some really strong leaders in Luke Bohn and Collin Johnson."
A more dangerous version of Bullard is a unwelcoming sight for opponents, especially considering he ran for over 1,700 yards and 24 touchdowns his sophomore season.
The scary part for East Hamilton's opposition is Bullard is not the only gifted athlete as Grant Reynolds' team has two 6-foot-4 explosive playmakers in Kaunyae Burgans and Jeremiah Flemmons along with a McCallie transfer at quarterback in Lake Clark who has impressed early on. Wide receiver Jaxon Flemmons and running back Brian Bradshaw have also made big plays for the dynamic offense.
Bullard's recruitment has begun to heat up this fall, with interest from Cincinnati, Memphis and Tennessee.
"The sky is the limit for Juan," Reynolds said. "He does whatever we ask him to do and is a great team player. The fact he wants to get better every time he goes out there says a lot about who he is. Not feeling like he has arrived, but wanting to get better and do bigger things."
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.