VTO Washington D.C.: Sleepers awaken
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DUMFRIES, Va. - Eric Assoua wrapped two long limbs around the tackling dummy, formed a clamped smile around his off-white mouth guard and lifted.
The class of 2015 three-star defensive end had set up the speed rush throughout a balmy afternoon at Potomac High School, so his opponent was prepared to fight for the edge when Assoua countered with a spin, reached his target and punctuated a victorious one-on-one drill by snatching the dummy quarterback off the ground and dragging it 10 yards up the field.
Assoua, a 6-foot-1, 221-pound rising senior for St. Johns College High School in Washington, D.C., sped around and through the competition Sunday at a VTO Elite 100 Camp that drew 110 prospects to the artificial turf at Chuck Coles Memorial Stadium. The VTO Staff gave him the camp's "Sleeper" award.
"I feel like a lot of people are sleeping on me," said Assoua, who has scholarship offers from Toledo, Western Michigan and most recently Boston College.
"I'm actually glad I got this award because of a whole lot of teams and people are sleeping on me. There's been a whole bunch of people that think the underclassmen playing my position are better than me when they're not," he said. I'm just trying to showcase my talents."
With Assoua claiming the "Sleeper" award, class of 2015 pass rusher Casey Bernard was honored as the MVP of the defensive line after battling through a bout of dehydration that sidelined him during early drills.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder from St. Mary's Ryken High School (Md.) showed a quick first step and used his hands well.
"I just tried to show some aggressiveness and really explode off the ball," Bernard said. "Just going through drills I think I showed some good footwork."
Bernard holds offers from James Madison, Old Dominion, St. Francis and Buffalo. He said he felt he was a natural rival to Assoua, who had beaten him for MVP at a previous camp.
In addition to the two award winners, 358-pound defensive tackle Eric Kareem Jr., Yuka Onya and Patrick Rojvall were recognized as the best defensive linemen.
On the offensive line, Covington (Va.) guard Derek Dressler (2015) won position MVP honors by flashing textbook technical skills and stout pass protection. The 6-foot-2, 315-pound prospect has interest from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion and James Madison. Class of 2015 recruits Kristofer Sheppard, Karawn Curtis and Barnabas Baning - Bernard's classmate at St. Mary's Ryken - were recognized for their efforts on the line.
The 6-foot-2, 349-pound Baning, a late addition to the camp, tested as the top defensive lineman in attendance. The guard has six offers and is receiving interest from Auburn, Penn State and Virginia Tech among others.
"I can't resist the competition," Baning said. "I had to come."
Class of 2016 offensive tackle Josh Ball was named as the top underclassmen in the trenches. The 6-foot-6, 312-pound prospect from Stafford High School in Fredericksburg, Va., will join the top 2016 skill player from camp - Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.) receiver Devin Judd - and the top 2016 defensive skill player - St. John's linebacker Ryan Vessels - in Jacksonville, Fla., for the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge in July.
Ball said he got his first scholarship offer last week in a visit from Old Dominion, but he has "a lot of interest" from Virginia Tech, Virginia, Alabama and William & Mary.
Wide receiver Ricky Lewis Jr. (2015) earned the all-purpose athlete MVP by busting through press coverage and running sharp routes.
"It means a lot, especially on Mother's Day," Lewis said. "My mom paid money to come up here on her time, and since she was here I had to do something for her."
Lewis said he was meeting with Virginia Tech on Monday at his high school, Mills E. Goodwin in Richmond, Va., and had additional interest from Towson, Delaware and Virginia State.
Class of 2016 quarterback Donte Lampley was not the tallest quarterback in camp, but he was the most accurate. The Bayside High School (Va.) rising junior displayed consistent footwork and a quick release to win the QB MVP.
"I work on my mechanics every day," he said. "If my feet are right, my throws are right."
Lampley said he's talking to coaches from Old Dominion, Charlotte, Virginia and Virginia Tech. VTO Staff also recognized quarterbacks Mike Bickerton, Christopher Powell (2016), Ryan Bowles (2015) and Garrett Cropp. Bowles and Cropp each executed deep throws with touch. Athlete Michael Caputo was also recognized.
Kimothy Bynum made his quarterbacks look good all afternoon. The 2015 prospect was named MVP of the receivers after he hauled in an impressive catch on a ball thrown behind him and snagged another deep ball in traffic. Lewis Jr., Travon Scott and teammates Jordan McIntyre and Montez Wilson were also recognized by the VTO staff.
Paul Zacharski was named MVP of the tight ends. Although he serves primarily a blocking role in St. Mary's offense, Zacharski was smooth while snagging several passes in seven-on-seven and one-on-one drills.
Class of 2015 running back Davel Carr earned the MVP of the running backs. Anton Woody, Tynard Barfield, Lamont Atkins and Jordan Edwards were all recognized as outstanding backs by the VTO staff.
Nearby Woodbridge (Va.) High School product Cody Farrar was named MVP of the linebackers. Anton Coleman, Nathan Proctor Jr., Trevon Shorts and Vessels also earned recognition the best linebackers in camp.
Issa Conteh Jr. - a class of 2015 cornerback from Bowie (Md.) High School - took home defensive back MVP honors. Safety Chidozie Nnadi, corner Darnell Smallwood, defensive back Damon Hazelton and cornerback Jesse Stauffer were recognized for performance in the secondary.
The final stop on the VTO Elite 100 Series is Sunday, May 25, in Chicago.
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