From days in Tampa, Span cool under pressure

Denard Span, OF, Nationals 
Hometown: Tampa, Fla.

Until the Nationals traded for him in November 2012, Span never spent much time in the nation's capital, despite being born there.

Span grew up in Tampa, where he played two years at Hillsborough High before transferring to Tampa Catholic High. Span, also a standout on the gridiron, batted .382 during Tampa Catholic's 2001 state championship run. He hit .490 out of the leadoff spot as a senior, before the Twins selected him in the first round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.

Span could've played Division 1 football if he wanted, said Chuck Yingling, his Tampa Catholic coach, and he handled all the pre-Draft attention well. Yingling credits Span's mother, Wanda Wilson, "a very strong businesswoman," for that.

"You get somebody transferring from another school, you really don't know why they're transferring," Yingling said. "But it was nice to know, as a coach and an educator, you didn't have to worry about him."

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.