Pollock doubles tackles, nearly hits all targeted goals at linebacker in senior season at Columbia; six more make the all-defensive team
Prior to his senior year, Columbia linebacker Marlon Pollock wrote down four stat goals for 2019 and hung the paper in his locker.
He looked at it every day, but didn’t monitor his numbers throughout the season. Pollock hoped to make 100 tackles, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and five sacks.
“I didn’t check on them during the year,” Pollock said. “I just waited until the end. When it was over, I had almost completed them all.”
Pollock finished his season campaign with 94 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Those numbers, along with Pollock’s leadership role at CHS, earned him Lake City Reporter’s Defensive Player of the Year.
“I wasn’t expecting this at all,” Pollock said of the recognition. “It’s a real big accomplishment. I really bleed this purple and gold and I always wanted to play for Columbia.
“Knowing that I got recognized by you guys, it just means a lot. I completed almost every goal that I had as a senior, so I feel like I did a pretty good job.”
Pollock has been dreaming of playing for the Tigers since he was in fifth grade. Columbia coach Brian Allen recalls him hanging around practices as a middle schooler, trying to get in on the action.
“I remember him being a persistent seventh grader, maybe even the sixth grade, wanting to come work out with the team in the summertime and offseason,” Allen said. “You knew it was different because when nobody’s telling you to do something, you really get to know what a person has within them. Nobody’s forcing you to do it, but that interest is there.
“I’d run him off and he’d come back. I’d run him off again and he’d come back. So his eagerness to want to learn and want to participate let me know early on. I don’t know who this kid is yet, but when it’s finally his chance he’s probably going to be a good one. And sure enough, he was.”
Pollock was moved up to varsity by the end of his freshman season and recorded 34 tackles as a sophomore. The following year, his role increased after the injury to senior linebacker Ethan Umstead, who now plays for Florida State.
“When Ethan went down, I had to step up as a veteran linebacker and I just took advantage of my opportunity,” Pollock said. “One of my coaches told me, ‘This is going to be your team soon.’ So I just took that to heart and learned the system like the back of my hand.”
After making 42 tackles in 2018, Pollock took over for Umstead on a full-time basis this fall and more than doubled his numbers from last season. He moved from outside linebacker to start inside, serving as the “quarterback” of Columbia’s defense.
“He got thrown into that role this year, whether he wanted it or not,” Allen said of Pollock. “He was the linebacker that had to take the bull by the horns and he did a good job of doing that in his senior campaign. He may not be the biggest guy in stature as far as height (5’10”) and weight (190), but he played with everything he had in his heart week in and week out. Those are things that can’t be measured on paper.
“He had big moments late in the season. I look back at the Middleburg game, he had a huge interception there. He made another really big one against Ponte Vedra when we played them in a tight defensive battle. When his best was required, he stepped up in a major way and delivered.”
Pollock also made a big stop in the playoff loss at Lee. With the Generals threatening to score at the end of regulation, Pollock made a touchdown-saving tackle at the goal line in the final seconds and sent the game into overtime.
He thought the play would propel the Tigers to victory, but they lost 6-3 in double OT.
“That one hurt me most,” Pollock said. “When we played them earlier in the season, they ran the same exact play and I was in the same position. I knew what I did wrong before. I tried to cut him and he slipped over me, but I didn’t let happen again. This time I just wrapped him up and ran my feet to make sure I got him down.
“I felt like we were going to win after that play and go to state. Our senior class had been dreaming about that moment, so that’s why it hurt so much to lose. We wanted to be the class to take Columbia to the next level, but I still think we left our mark.”
ALL-AREA DEFENSIVE TEAM
Aaron Byrnes, DE/TE, Fort White
Two-way player led the team defensively with 92 tackles. The senior also caught nine passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns on offense at tight end.
Daylon Lumpkin, DL, Columbia
Finished tied for fifth on the team with 48 tackles despite missing four games with an injury. The senior also had two sacks and three tackles for loss.
Le’vontae Camiel, LB, Columbia
USF commit led the team with 11 tackles for loss and was second on the team with six sacks. The senior was also third on the team with 73 tackles.
Jaden Dunn, LB, Columbia
Finished second on the team with 82 tackles despite playing only seven games. The sophomore also had six tackles for loss, two sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery.
Sylvester Warren, LB, Fort White
Was second on the team with eight tackles for loss and finished third with 64 tackles. The senior also had two sacks three fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
Shyheim Brown, DB, Columbia
The county’s top defensive back was fourth on the team with 63 tackles. The junior also had an interception, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt.