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COLUMN: Maury's Vinston Painter
Painter a tailor-made football player
By David Teel | email@example.com
Vinston Painter didn’t take up football until the ninth grade. For this blame the weight limits of recreation leagues.
Vinston Painter didn’t injure, maim or otherwise dump-truck any of his neighborhood friends. For this thank those same weight limits.
“There are some big dudes in my family,” Painter said. “But in school, I’ve always been the biggest.”
Ya think? Painter stands 6-foot-6 and weighs about 315 pounds, give or take a T-bone or three. He’s a senior offensive tackle at Norfolk’s Maury High, a national-caliber college recruit, and for a second consecutive week is preparing for a Peninsula District opponent.
Last Friday it was Phoebus, a game Maury lost 46-21. This Friday it’s Woodside. Regardless of foe, it’s impossible to miss Painter.
And not just because of his height and weight. It’s his body type.
For better or worse, 300-pound linemen are common, even in high school. But many (most?) are sloppy fat, the flab hanging over their belts.
Not Painter. This is one three-bills guy who doesn’t jiggle when he runs.
As Maury coach Dealton Cotton said, “He’s pretty put-together.”
Has been since he arrived at Maury as a 6-2, 260-pound freshman.
Credit Painter’s metabolism and self-discipline. He tries to avoid sweets and fried foods, and leans toward grilled chicken and beef. But when the family enters a restaurant with a buffet …
“When it’s time to eat, it’s time to eat,” Painter said with a laugh.
Tailor-made as his body is, Painter still has much to learn about football. The techniques of line play — footwork, leverage and angles — are too nuanced to pick up in just three-plus seasons, one of which was spent on the junior varsity.
But as soon as college coaches eyed Painter’s size at a cattle call during the spring of his sophomore year, technique became secondary to potential. Scholarship offers flooded in by the dozen.
Trained eyes who watched Painter in last season’s Eastern Region playoffs — a victory over Hampton and loss to Phoebus — thought he played far too upright. Cotton, a former nose guard at East Carolina, said Painter has worked tirelessly on technique.
“The great thing about him is, he’s a kid who’s going to listen to you and do what you ask him to do,” Cotton added. “He’s committed himself in the classroom and committed himself on the field.”
Cotton said Painter has met NCAA academic minimums for freshmen, which only intensifies colleges’ pursuit. Virginia Tech, Florida, Penn State, Georgia and Miami are the finalists, and although Cotton portrays the Hokies as the leader, Painter is far more coy.
“I’d say everybody’s even,” he said in his rich baritone.
“I’m pushing him to stay in-state,” Cotton said.
Offensive line coach Curt Newsome, Virginia Tech’s lead recruiter in Southside Hampton Roads, has mined the area well, and heaven knows the Hokies need help up front (see tape of Saturday’s East Carolina game for evidence). But Florida (Landstown High graduate Percy Harvin) and Penn State (three Southsiders, including receiver Chris Bell of Granby High) also have a recent history in the region.
Painter has paid his own way to Virginia Tech and Florida but may take all five complimentary campus visits permitted by NCAA rules. Like many acclaimed prospects, he plans to announce his college decision during the national telecast of January’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl — provided he’s selected for that all-star event.
Until then, Cotton anticipates continued progress from Painter.
“He didn’t play as well as I expected him to (against Phoebus), and he wasn’t the only one,” Cotton said. “As a team we just didn’t play well — we weren’t as physical as we need to be.”
Given Painter’s size, physical play should be the least of his coach’s concerns.
“He still has a lot of room to grow,” Cotton said. “He’s going to be an amazing football player.”
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