Oshane Ximines Jersey

For the past four seasons, Oshane Ximines has been a disruptor of opposing offenses at the college level for the Old Dominion University football team.

The defensive end also left his mark at the high school level at nearby Hertford County High School.

Ximines is projected to continue his football career as his name is expected to be called during the 2019 NFL draft in Nashville, Tennessee.

The first round of the draft was Thursday.

The second through third rounds are today and rounds 4-7 will be held Saturday.

According to NFL.com, Ximines is projected to be drafted either in the third or fourth round.

Other media outlets estimate that Ximines could be drafted in the second round.

Area high school football coaches remember facing the 6-foot-3 over 200-pound defensive lineman when he played at Hertford County.Ximines was a member of the Hertford County varsity football team during the 2012 and 2013 seasons as a defensive end.

Northeastern head coach Antonio Moore acknowledged that it is huge for a player like Ximines that played in the area to get the chance to be drafted.

Moore added that the area always had players that could play, not only at the college level, but in the NFL.

While at Hertford County, Ximines was a two-time all-Northeastern Coastal Conference performer.

“He represented the conference very well,” Moore said.

Moore, whose tenure as the head coach at Northeastern High School began in the mid-2000s, noted that Ximines was an athletic player that was quick on the outside.

Moore noted that Ximines was difficult to block and NHS ran plays away from the side of the line where Ximines lined up.

When the Eagles did run a play to Ximines’ side, Moore recalled that it would be a screen pass play.

John A. Holmes High School athletic director Wes Mattera served as the Aces head football coach during the time Ximines played at Hertford County.

Mattera, who is also currently the defensive coordinator for the Aces, remembered that Ximines carried himself like a Division I athlete.

On the field, Edenton’s strategy was to make Ximines read and make a decision.

Mattera credited former Hertford County head football coach Scott Privott and the Hertford County community for helping Ximines to have the grades and character to earn a chance to play at Old Dominion.

“Hats off to the people at Hertford County,” Mattera said.

Mattera also added that it’s great that another athlete from the 252 area code, which covers most of the northeastern part of the state, will get a chance in the NFL.

Tarboro has sent multiple players to the league with the most notable being Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (first round, No. 10 overall in 2015 by the St. Louis Rams), Southern Nash’s Julius Peppers was a first round, No. 2 overall selection by the Carolina Panthers in the 2002 NFL draft, while Northampton County’s Keion Crossen was drafted in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL draft by the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

If and when Ximines is drafted, he would join the group of high school athletes from the region drafted by a NFL team in John A. Holmes’ Zack Valentine (second round, No. 59 overall in 1979 by the Pittsburgh Steelers) and Wes Chesson (seventh round, No. 163 overall in 1971 by the Atlanta Falcons), Northeastern’s Anthony Smith (first round, No. 11 overall in 1990 by the Los Angeles Raiders) and Bertie County’s Jethro Pugh (11th round, 145th overall in 1965 by the Dallas Cowboys) and Travis Bond (seventh round, No. 214 overall in 2013 by the Minnesota Vikings).

If selected this weekend, Ximines could become the first player from ODU to be drafted.

Fellow ODU teammate in wide receiver Travis Fulgham is projected to be drafted either in the third or fourth round of the draft.

Ximines completed his career at Old Dominion as a two-time all-Conference USA first-team performer on defense.

Dexter Lawrence Jersey

The freshman-year apprenticeship for Jaden McKenzie set a foundation that eventually outshined that of the mentor.

At Wake Forest High School in a tiny North Carolina town just outside of Raleigh, McKenzie spent his ninth-grade football season for the Cougars watching a dominant force named Dexter Lawrence own the defensive trenches.

Yes, that Dexter Lawrence — Clemson All-American, College Football Playoff national champion and now NFL first-round draft pick.

Lawrence set the standard, but he never won a state football championship.

McKenzie? The Ohio State signee helped Wake Forest win an unprecedented three-straight North Carolina Class 4A State Championships.

“I hate to use another player when talking about Jaden, but Dexter Lawrence, who played at Clemson, when he graduated, Jaden stepped into his role as the guy to dominate on the defensive line,” Wake Forest coach Reggie Lucas told Lettermen Row. “Dexter didn’t win a championship, and the next three years, Jaden was able to capture three titles and anchor our defensive line.”

Nearly 6-feet-4 and still growing into his frame, McKenzie signed with Ryan Day’s Buckeyes after the trio of title runs that included McKenzie’s more than 60 career tackles for losses.

Rather than pout as a freshman behind Lawrence or fail to utilize his chance as understudy to future New York Giants first-rounder, McKenzie gleaned everything he could from his time behind Lawrence.

“I think that’s what made it special, he was kind of in the shadows, Jaden played with Dexter for one year on that line, and he stood back and learned from Dexter,” Lucas said. “Our defensive line coach loved his quickness, you know we kind of had to slow him down sometimes the way we wanted him to play in our defense.

“But he was very coachable, and I think some of those things helped him step into his role and be a captain. Because when he was younger, he wasn’t worried about the spotlight and waited his time.”

As McKenzie has shifted his focus onto his upcoming arrival in Columbus, Lucas has helped define target areas for improvement for the massive interior lineman, whom Lucas said had been told he could be a 1- or 3-technique player for the Buckeyes.

“My first words to him when he made the decision to go to Ohio State is to get in shape,” said Lucas, who praised the steady approach and work ethic of McKenzie throughout his prep career. “You’ve got to be in shape at that level; the conditioning from high school to the collegiate level is night and day.

“And he’s been working on conditioning and is running and sprinting, and has been in the weight room working on that with size and strength. I told him, ‘You’re not playing Division II football or some small FBS school, you’re in the big leagues at Ohio State. He’s doing his part now, but you don’t know what the guys at Ohio State are going to be like. He’s mentally trying to prepare for the worst — and by the worst, I mean he knows he is going to be challenged like never before. All the guys there are top recruits in the country. You’re not coming in there as the guy, you’re coming in there to compete.”

Which might just be what Jaden McKenzie does best. Just check the trophy case.