February 28, 2013

Versatile DeBerry grabs Vols offer, others

Pick virtually any position on the football field, and chances are Ricky DeBerry has spent some time there.

So when coaches picked for DeBerry, a blossoming 2015 prospect with an ever-growing offer list out of St. Christopher's in Richmond, Va., last season to move up from his natural post at linebacker to weakside defensive end, DeBerry was all in.

His stats, despite his sophomore status, similarly showed his upside. The 6-foot-2.5-inch, 235-pounder punished opponents for eight sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries on a defensive unit not known for its pressure approach. It's why he's got an early offer from Tennessee and spent time on Rocky Top for the Vols' junior day earlier this month.

DeBerry's film has become rather popular with BCS-level coaches from across the country since its distribution thanks in part to Nashville-based Playmakers Academy, and DeBerry also intends to be involved with the Music City's ever-growing In Full Motion program.

DeBerry has tallied five firm offers in the early going, with Purdue, Virginia, North Carolina and East Carolina joining the Vols. He's also seen the coaches from Florida State, Georgia, LSU and others show interest.

"This year I didn't get a chance to really play linebacker and Coach asked me if I could fill in at the weakside defensive end spot and I did it for the team and it ended up that I led the team in sacks," said DeBerry, who like his St. Christopher's teammate Garrett Taylor has a verbal offer from the University of Tennessee. "I feel like I'm good with my hands, getting off blocks and I don't give up. If I see a guy still running, no matter where it is on the field, I want to go in and make the tackle. Me and my dad talk about the game. I feel like my IQ of the game has grown as well."

DeBerry's football intelligence no doubt is bolstered by a father who played collegiately at Virginia Union and received an NFL tryout, but he also has found motivation in the abilities of other Richmond-area players, such as Derrick Green, to ink scholarship papers and continue on to the next level.

"It feels good, being a kid growing up and seeing guys [from the area] in college football, the pros and seeing guys commit and sign their LOI, it helps," DeBerry explained, "And I also know a lot of responsibility comes with it. I'm ready to accept that responsibility."

Part of that, DeBerry said, includes seizing every opportunity to compete against the best. He'll participate in the prestigious Rivals.com VTO camp in Richmond in mid-April.

"I always feel like it's a chance to get more exposure," DeBerry said. "Being a sophomore, I'm only going to get better from it and get more exposure. See what to work on it, things I'm good at. I'm very competitive. I want to go out there and compete."

It's that attitude and skill-set that have DeBerry expected to be among the top players in Virginia when Rivals.com releases its preliminary state rankings for the 2015 class.

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