Rocco Becht. (Photos: Charmaine George)

Quarterback Rocco Becht stands on the launch pad, ready to reach the stars.

He has been waiting.

He waited his turn as a freshman at Wiregrass Ranch High as the junior varsity starter, was prematurely thrown into the starting role as a sophomore and saw his junior year clipped by an inexperienced team and Covid-19. He has still managed to put up good numbers, but they have not met his expectations.

He’s a senior now. And he is ready.

“I definitely feel like I have something to prove,” he says.

Rocco is ready for liftoff.

10…9…8….

Rocco is the son of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Anthony Becht, although he shares few of his pop’s imposing physical attributes. Anthony was a 6-foot-6, 270-pound monster of a tight end. Rocco is a little on the smallish side — he’s now 6’-1”, 185 lbs. — and says that when he played Pop Warner football, “I’m not going to lie, I was afraid to get hit.”

However, he acquired the love for football watching dad catch passes and block defenders in the NFL. And, he could throw a football better than the other kids, so he ended up being the quarterback. He played flag football for Liberty Middle School in New Tampa, and full-pads Pop Warner football for the South Pasco Predators.

What he lacked in physical stature he made up for with hard work and smarts.

As a freshman at Wiregrass Ranch in 2018, he started for the JV. Just a month before the start of the 2019 season, varsity starter Hunter Helton bolted for Armwood. Rocco was elevated to starter, and threw for 1,985 yards, 21 touchdowns and just eight interceptions while 

leading the Bulls to the postseason and a 7-4 final record.

“He got thrown into the fire,” Anthony says. “Physically, he couldn’t develop his sophomore year because he was still young and just getting into weights. Mentally, he had to speed that process up. I didn’t know what to expect. He wasn’t very big then. I was worried about him physically…but he did a great job with it. Once his sophomore season was done…he started thinking, ‘You know, I got something here.’”

Rocco says until that season, he wasn’t sure if he hadn’t peaked, if there was a “next level” waiting for him. But, fully committed afterwards, he set his sights on being great.

7…6…5…

From the end of his sophomore season through this summer, few have dedicated themselves more to their craft than Rocco.

“I’m not sure anyone has worked harder,” says Wiregrass Ranch head coach Mark Kantor. “He’s dedicated, that’s for sure. He sets the example.”

Bryson Rodgers will be one of Rocco’s top targets this season.

Rocco went to his father after the 2019 season and told Anthony that he was all in. It was all Anthony needed to hear. It started in the garage of their Wesley Chapel home, where, as the pandemic raged, dad laid out the roadmap to success for his son, which included working out, eating right, watching film and absorbing the game.

Rocco continued honing his skills with noted quarterback coach Chip Bennett and his son C.J. in Tampa. He survived a junior slump in a Covid-19-shortened season and this past offseason attacked the recruiting camp circuit with a vengeance.

In April, he orally committed to the Big 12’s Iowa State University in Ames. Although he had received an offer — with more likely to come — from Ole Miss a week before he committed, Rocco passed on Lane Kiffin and the prestigious Southeastern Conference and stuck with the Cyclones, who offered him first, during his sophomore year.

A 4.0 student, Rocco will graduate from Wiregrass Ranch in December and enroll at Iowa State in January.

Also in April, Rocco was named the MVP at a Rivals Camp in Miami, earning an invite to the prestigious Rivals100 5-Star Challenge in Atlanta in June.

Competing against the likes of Cade Klubnik (Clemson commitment), A.J. Swann (Maryland commit) and other higher-rated quarterbacks, Rocco stunningly dominated the event and again earned MVP honors.

“I was told I was one of the last guys picked to go to the Rivals thing,” Rocco says. “I went out there and balled. That put a bunch of confidence in me. It gave me a lot of momentum for this season.”

Two weeks ago, Rocco earned another star in the Rivals rankings, making him officially a 4-Star-rated quarterback.

4…3….

This season, Rocco will lead a Bulls team that is loaded on offense and still developing on defense, and is hoping to open one of its most promising seasons Friday. The Bulls Aug. 27 opener against Hernando and the originally scheduled game Friday against Wesley Chapel were postponed. No replacement has been announced.

No matter when it officially starts, Rocco is “stoked” about the possibilities this season. Like many of his teammates, he has been working hard for this moment.

Anthony will be calling the plays at Wiregrass Ranch this season, as the team’s offensive coordinator. In the spring game, Rocco threw four TD passes to three different receivers. He and wideout Bryson Rodgers — who has offers from Alabama and Florida, to name a few — might be the best QB-WR tandem in Tampa Bay high school football.

But, they are just pieces of a puzzle, Anthony says. “Rocco wants to win,” he says. “That’s what is most important. Not how many stars you have, not how many yards you have, but can we go to the playoffs? You throw for 450 yards, tweet that out, people put likes on it, and it’s good for a week. He wants to do something with this team that lasts a lifetime.”

Rocco may have been a late bloomer, but he still has plenty of quarterback swagger. He says he believes that the Bulls can win every game this season and make a deep run in the playoffs. He has circled the Mitchell game on Sept. 10, after the Mustangs returned the opening kickoff in last year’s game against the Bulls en route to a 42-14 romp. Powerhouses like Armwood and Tampa Bay Tech await the Bulls as well.

“I feel like I’ve earned everything I’ve gotten, from hard work and dedication to the game,” Rocco says. “It’s going to pay off at the end of the day. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me.”

Yes, Rocco Becht is on the launch pad, ready to reach the stars. 

2….1….blast off!

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