Plant: State final loss photo motivates Madhu
TAMPA - The Plant High football team's season ended last year with a 29-7 loss to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 5A state championship and starting strong safety Drew Madhu wanted one memento from the game. "I wanted one picture from that state championship game,'' Madhu said. "I wanted the scoreboard picture. I can't stand to look at that silver medal, but I will look at the scoreboard picture because I don't want to be there again.'' The photo sits in the senior's bedroom and he sees it every morning when he wakes up. "It just reminds me when I go out there, I've got to push the team and give it my all and not take off any plays,'' he said.That approach has helped Madhu develop into one of the top defensive players in the county. The light really went on for Madhu his junior season when he became a full-time starter. He noticed during film study that plays were running for him in slow motion. "I saw the whole play before it started and I knew exactly where to be and it was great,'' he said. "The first time it happened for me in a game, I absolutely killed the guy.'' Colleges began taking notice and following a strong showing in a Nike Camp at Duke University, Madhu's offers began to increase rapidly. He verbally committed to Stanford University earlier this summer following an unofficial visit. What seemed like a meteoric rise has actually been a buildup to this moment for quite some time. "It's not been all of a sudden. Drew Madhu's a great player," Plant coach Robert Weiner said. "He's been a kid who gets better every single day and now he's a BCS-caliber scholarship player. He's been building toward this point as a freshman. We brought him up as a freshman late in the season, one of the few guys we do that with. "We saw from an early age a little bit of what he's got." In Plant's defensive scheme, Madhu carries a great responsibility as the starting strong safety. He's responsible for lining up the other safety, the two corners and linebackers. Last year, in his first full season as a starter, Madhu led the team with 121 tackles. "Drew really has a live human confidence,'' Weiner said. "Not a cockiness, but a confidence about who he is as an individual, and he plays from that sense of confidence. That really is something strong and that is part of his great leadership because it rubs off on a lot of the other players.''