It’s a one-time thing. You can only play in the game for four years, and you want to win the four years that you attend Poly. There’s not enough words to describe how I feel about the game. It’s a lot of tension. We could lose all our games, but when it comes to that game, we’ve got to win it. It has everything to do with bragging rights and school spirit.
Why did you pick Virginia Tech?
Putting the athletics piece aside, the academic support system is tremendous. They really want their players to graduate. … They don't want them to be one-and-done. And the setting of Virginia Tech is a great environment for me, because it's in the middle of nowhere, and that means less distractions, so the only things I should be focused on are my schoolwork and football. Athletics-wise, when I went to the spring game, it felt like Lane Stadium was moving and that was just a spring game.
Why commit so early?
I wanted to enjoy my senior season. I didn't want to have that headache for senior year. I wanted to put everything aside and make my choice and get it over with, so I would know what school I would be signing to in February.
What was it like at the U.S. Army combine in January?
Man, that was probably the greatest combine I've ever been to in my life. The best talent in the country was in San Antonio for that, and for me to go against that talent, it was very competitive. When I went down there, nobody completed a pass on me. They had all the best players in the country, and it really shows why the U.S. Army game is the top bowl game for high school players.
Do you think your performance at the U.S. Army combine put you on the national recruiting map?
Yes I do. When the season was over after the Poly-City game, I took a week off and I had been working for three months before the combine. I think that hard work paid off, so when I went to the combine everything was easy. It was a breeze right through the competition. I showcased my talent. I ran a 4.4 in the 40-[yard dash]. I did well in the shuttles. I did well in the vertical. I did well in all the tests.
One online writer said you had an MVP performance there. What did you think when you read that?
I was pretty excited. When I read that, I was like, "I definitely arrived," and I think my name had gotten across the country.
You spend the offseason working out with some other high-profile players such as Dunbar’s DeonTay McManus and Gilman’s Cyrus Jones. How did that come about?
We train at a gym, TZ Sports, and it’s a coincidence that we all train at the same place. I train with Marco [Jones, a Boys’ Latin graduate now at Virginia], and training with him definitely got me ready for the combine. I worked out with Donovan Smith, who goes to Penn State, and I worked on my DB skills with Adrian Amos. That really helped me prepare for top competition in the state like Stefon Diggs, Cyrus Jones and Ian Thomas.
How many Facebook friends do you have?
Probably over 2,000. I don’t even go on Facebook anymore. I just check to see who’s birthday it is [laughs]. So many people request me as friends. I do talk to the people that I met at college camps and the combines just to check on their seasons, but that’s it.
Is it just too time consuming?
Yeah. I’m not going to say Facebook is a distraction, but right now I don’t have enough time to be on Facebook all the time when I have to spend more time on my school work.
You've done a lot of self-promotion on the Internet. Do you think that was important to your recruiting process?
Yes. You have to get yourself out there. Just sitting in the chair expecting people to know about you and offers to fall out of the sky and land in your lap — it isn't going to happen. Coaches have to get you out there and you have to do it yourself. You just have to have a lot of people in your corner who want you to be successful and get you out there as well.
When you look at your future, what do you see beyond college football?