Deaysean Rippy looks back and can't help but wonder. He was a running back at a younger age and misses those days. Now he's one of the most coveted defensive recruits from the state of Pennsylvania.
"I never expected things to be happening like this," Rippy said. "In pee-wee football I was a running back. Then I switched to defense and got my first offer my freshman season of high school football. I was blown away. But I did start as a freshman and not too many players do that around here. I guess looking back it was a great opportunity for me. There are no more running back days but if I could still do it I certainly would."
That first offer came from Pitt. Many more soon followed for the standout linebacker from Sto-Rox High School in McKees Rocks, Pa., including schools like Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, USC, Tennessee, Syracuse, Maryland, Colorado, West Virginia, North Carolina, LSU and others.
"Every one of my main schools has offered," Rippy said. "I have already seen schools like Florida, Syracuse, Maryland, Pitt and Penn State [no offer]. It certainly has gotten me ahead of the process. Education is first. Many out there are going to college to play football first. For me it's education and then football. I am looking at everything, especially the relationship with the players. I know with playing time it's up to me make to make it happen. We are all given that opportunity."
The 16-year-old ESPNU 150 Watch List prospect doesn't act like your typical high school junior and Sto Rox coach Ron Butschle has nothing but high praise for his rising senior.
"Deaysean is a very unique and very mature for being only 16," Butschle said. "He's already been exposed to so much and he handles it so well. He's just one of those guys that already has maturity. He can talk with the coaches and he has enjoyed the recruiting process. He's the type of kid that you never have to worry about."
Not only does Butschle enjoy coaching Rippy, he loves being around the young man as well.
"Deaysean is just a great kid who's always around my family. He comes to the house. My little kid and his friends idolize Deaysean," said Butschle.
Rippy, 6-2 and 205 pounds, is accustomed to the attention.
"It's something I have grown used to," Rippy said. "And I kind of enjoy it. It's just my personality."
While Rippy may have a nice demeanor off the field, he's far from it on it.
"Without a doubt, his strength as a defensive player is his speed and quickness," Butschle said. "This is so true when he comes off the edge. He's a great blitzer. He can chase and redirect so well. He can play in space and he's terrific in coverage.
"I would say he's a hybrid guy that can play strong safety or outside linebacker. At this point he still has an un-mature body if that makes any sense. He's going to be 230 pounds pretty quickly once he gets to college and could play either one of those positions."
Rippy knows he still has things to improve on.
"I know there is always room for improvement," Rippy said. "But the main thing is my frame and size. I know I have to get bigger and stronger."
He's graduating in December and enrolling in his school of choice in January. At least that's the plan.
"I know all these schools but don't know what's special yet," Rippy said. "My goal is to get to as many as I can so I can compare them all. It's going to have to be soon because I graduate early. I would like to commit no later than the middle of the season."
If anyone can do it it's Rippy. Unless he needs more time to come up with his school choice.
"I am not sure it's official but I know it's something that he's working towards," Butschle said. "I know he's talked with the principal and superintendent. I don't push stuff on our kids but I know Deaysean wants to take all his visits and feel comfortably both with the academics and football. He just needs to work on getting a timetable and narrowing these down. He has coaches flying in from all over. You know how things are with kids, it's hard to tell schools no."
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.