The big-man-on-campus persona fits Dominique DeGrammont to a T.
To hear his coaches, Myron Miller in football and Shad Vickers in track and field, tell it, DeGrammont is as sure a bet to compete in big-time collegiate sports as anyone who has walked the halls of Tustin High.
But the quiet, polite two-sport junior standout just wants to keep his nose to the grindstone and work toward his goals.
"He's a Division I player because he can hit, he's fast, he's built and he's really, really strong," said Miller, who said DeGrammont has been timed at 4.6 seconds over 40 yards.
"When I came here, they didn't think much of him as a football player," Miller, in his second year at Tustin, added. "But last year he was an all-[Golden West] league guy."
"Dominique has turned around Tustin track," the coach said. "He's a really likable guy who gets more guys and girls out for track because he's got such a good attitude and he's so successful. Other kids want to be like Dominique."
Like many talented athletes, DeGrammont has the talent to go to the next level in either sport.
"I want to do both sports in college," he said.
DeGrammont's added responsibilities this spring (100, 400-meter relay) will be nothing new to him. He was a jack-of-all-trades for the football team last fall. Playing primarily cornerback, where he earned first-team all-league honors, DeGrammont also saw action at wide receiver, running back and tight end.
Miller put DeGrammont to use in much the same manner as Vickers, who played on two Southern Section Division VI final teams while at Tustin in 1990 and 1991: exploiting his athleticism.
"I've got to find a way to get him the ball next year," Miller said. "I want him to have the ball 10 to 12 times a game."
After advancing to the state meet finals in track last spring, where he finished fourth after knocking over the seventh hurdle in the 110-meter race, DeGrammont knows the key to success lies in his speed. Or lack thereof, according to Vickers.
"Last year he ran an 11.7 for the 100 meters, so obviously we've worked to try and make him faster. If he gets some more speed, he could be a scary hurdler. Last week, he ran 11.3, which makes him our guy in the 100. He's going to train that way."
But Vickers will be careful with the training regimen.
"My main concern with my athletes is injury. That's what held me back. If Dominique says, 'I can't run,' I'm not going to force him. I was forced and had a lot of injuries," said Vickers, a former county champion in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.
"Dominique and I have been together since his freshman year. His first day of track practice, he wasn't anything special," Vickers said. "He was just a coordinated kid with a little speed."
Said Miller: "He works hard, he does everything he's asked. I'm lucky to have him. If I had a couple more kids like him, I'd be a great coach."
Winning the 110-meter high hurdles at the Orange County Championships in the frosh/soph division, posting a 15.4 clocking, was the highlight of his freshman year.
Although he had success as a freshman, Vickers saw no indication of the drastic improvement DeGrammont made last spring.
"Last year going in we thought, hey, if Dominique runs 14.8 or 14.9, that'd be great," Vickers said.
In the first meet last season, DeGrammont surpassed the goal he and his coach established for the season in his specialty.
The sophomore won the frosh/soph division of the 110-meter high hurdles at the Irvine Invitational, running 15.02 with automatic timing. (15.02 is superior to 14.8-hand-timed.) The varsity winner ran four-tenths of a second slower.
DeGrammont can't help but look ahead to college, whether in track or football.
"He gets letters for track from colleges; I don't know about football," Vickers said.
And there's always another crack at the state meet, where he hopes to shed the memories of last year's seventh hurdle incident.
"I was mad about that for a couple weeks," DeGrammont said.
"He's never run a perfect race," Vickers said. "I don't know what's going to happen when he does . . . I don't even want to think about it."
Maybe we will see it at the state meet in June.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
Boys' Track and Field at a Glance
Top sprinters and hurdlers: Charles Crook, Katella, Jr.; Dominique DeGrammont, Tustin, Jr.; Reuben Droughns, Anaheim, Sr.; Chris Felix, Estancia, Jr.; Kevin Griswold, Garden Grove, Sr.; Ike Hicks, Cypress, Sr.; Chad Hicks-Beach, Marina, Sr.; Juan Lomeli, Saddleback, Jr.; Phillip Oh, Irvine, Sr.; Rodney Rambo, Irvine, Sr.; Pat Swanson, Esperanza, Sr; Lonnie Tape, Esperanza, Sr.
Top middle- and long-distance runners: Tyler Beardslee, Corona del Mar, Jr.; Matt Blasdel, Santa Margarita, Sr.; Omar Cordero, Saddleback, Sr.; Dan Gaston, Huntington Beach, Jr.; Mike Gavar, Tustin, Sr.; Dylan Glatt, Edison, Sr.; Jon Jeffrey, Woodbridge, Jr.; Jan Maynard, Marina, Sr.; Michael Murray, Santa Margarita, Jr.; Ed Pollick, El Toro, Sr.; Kent Roberts, Edison, Sr.; Nick Russell, Orange, Jr.; Jess Strutzel, Huntington Beach, Sr.; Tony Trueba, Huntington Beach, Jr.; Ross Venook, Woodbridge, Sr.; Matt Wickersham, Mater Dei, Sr.
Top jumpers: David Allen, Woodbridge, Jr.; Mike Alvidrez, El Modena, Sr.; Steve Anstead, Dana Hills, Jr.; Jeff Chapman, Esperanza, Sr.; Nate Fox, Edison, Sr.; Cory Johnson, Los Alamitos, Sr.; Steve Michels, Brethren Christian, Sr.; Arthur Odden, Marina, Jr.; Elliott Parks, El Toro, Jr.; Bryan Reese, Dana Hills, So.
Top throwers: Brian Bachhuber, Esperanza, Sr.; Sean Jarne, Esperanza, Sr.; Matt Mason, El Toro, Sr.; Abe Mendoza, Mission Viejo, Sr.; Scott Moser, Huntington Beach, Jr.; Richie Nichols, Corona del Mar, Sr.; Jim Norum, Brea Olinda, Jr.; Brody Reiderich, Edison, Jr.
League favorites: Century: El Modena; Empire: Katella; Freeway: Sunny Hills; Garden Grove: Garden Grove; Golden West: Tustin; Olympic: Orange Lutheran; Orange: Brea Olinda: Pacific Coast: University; Sea View: El Toro; South Coast: Mission Viejo; Sunset: Esperanza.
1996 preseason poll: 1. El Toro; 2. Esperanza; 3. Santa Margarita; 4. Huntington Beach; 5. Mission Viejo; 6. Garden Grove; 7. El Modena; 8. Tustin; 9. Capistrano Valley; 10. Marina.
Key dates: March 15-16, Katella Relays; March 22-23, Tustin Relays; March 30, Trabuco Hills Invitational; April 9, Irvine Invitational;April 13, Arcadia Invitational; April 19-21, Mt. San Antonio Relays; April 20, Orange County Championships; May 10-11, Southern Section preliminaries; May 18, section finals; May 24, Masters Meet; May 31-June 1, state meet.
Notes: With Los Alamitos senior Cory Johnson already clearing 7-0 in the high jump against Cerritos Gahr earlier this spring, the 7-1 county record set by Katella's Kevin Carlson in 1991 is in jeopardy.