TAMPA, Fla. — Jesuit wide receiver Junior Vandeross plays football like he’s in his favorite video game, “Madden NFL.” The senior has a natural ability to make defenders miss.
“Junior has that innate ability to make something out of nothing,” Jesuit head coach Matt Thompson said. “Making plays is what he does. He loves doing it.”
For example, against Bloomingdale, Vandeross botched a snap on a fake punt. Normally, that would be a problem, but not when Vandeross gets his hand on the ball.
“Then he drops the snap and we’re like ‘oh, crap,’” Jesuit defensive back Caleb Williams recalled. “He told us to block right, then starts running left. We are trying to block for him but we don’t know which way he is going to go. He makes dudes miss. He’s like walking around the field, like shaking people in slow motion, and still picks up the first down.”
It’s a skill that other players wish they had.
“If you give him the ball in open space, there’s not many people that can bring him down,” Jesuit quarterback Luke Knight said. “I’ve talked to him, Junior teach me. You can’t teach that. It’s natural ability.”
“He asked me how do you get more shifty,” Vandeross said. “I really can’t teach shiftiness. It’s a natural thing I always had, God-gifted.”
Vandeross has helped the Tigers to a 5-0 record and ranked 15th nationally. The three-star athlete committed to the University of Toledo. He leads the team with 20 receptions this season with 704 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns this season.
He finished his junior season with 16 touchdowns and over 1,200 all-purpose yard. “All-purpose” because he plays just about everywhere.
“He plays quarterback, he plays punter, he’s our second-string place kicker, kickoff, kick return, defensive back, wide receiver, running back, slot receiver,” Thompson said. “Anywhere on the field we can put him.”
Plug and play, it’s that simple.
“I think it’s genetics, man,” Williams added. “He is able to see the field and process it in a split second. He makes guys miss like that. It’s not every day you see a dude do that.”