Caleb Deveaux’s junior year at Marvin Ridge High School was pretty good.
Deveaux rushed for 1,233 yards, 19 touchdowns and led Marvin Ridge to the N.C. state quarterfinals. But coming back for his senior year, Deveaux wanted to do more.
“Right after the season,” he said, “I felt like I’d have to (play offense and defense this season) and I figured I might as well be in the best shape possible.”
So Deveaux, 17, committed himself towards his goal last November. He said he weighed 228 pounds. He’s down to 205 and has all but given up eating out with his friends and he’s worked out more than ever. Instead of running just before the season began, he’s been running since last season ended.
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Deveaux, who is 6-foot-1, sees the difference in his body. He’s also seeing it on the field. His 40-yard dash, in the summer of 2016, was electronically timed at a college camp at 4.8 seconds. This summer, he and his coach say Deveaux was timed in 4.6 seconds at a camp at East Carolina.
“He’s still a big physical kid,” said Marvin Ridge coach Aubrey Carter, who begins his third season this month. “We expect him to be great here. He’s one of the guys the team looks for, for leadership on the field by example and off the field by his work ethic.”
Deveaux comes from a family of football players and learned that work ethic at home. His father, Glenn, played at Pittsburgh. His brother, Elijah, is a redshirt freshman at Duke.
Caleb was too big to make weight in his youth football age group. He didn’t want to play with older kids and was initially drawn to lacrosse and hockey and baseball.
Then, the weight limit rules relaxed in the sixth grade. Plus, he was inspired to play football by watching his brother.
“I saw how my brother was working,” Caleb Deveaux said, “and I wanted that to be me.”
While Elijah went to Charlotte Christian and became a state champion, Caleb chose to remain at Marvin Ridge and he’s helped rebuild the program.
The Mavericks have been 14-10 the past two seasons. In the three years before that, Marvin Ridge had been through three different coaches, hadn’t posted a winning season, and finished with a combined record of 11-23.
Both Deveaux and coach Carter feel that this could be the most talented Mavericks team of the renaissance.
Marvin Ridge returns 11 starters and 26 lettermen. Deveaux will play running back on offense and linebacker on defense, where he’ll pair with 6-3, 215-pound senior defensive end Cole Hopkins, who had 85 tackles and 13 sacks as a junior.
Carter said everybody around campus knows this could be a special year.
“We got beat in the third round last year, so we’re anxious,” he said. “The kids are motivated and getting to that round of the playoffs is good for our program. But we want that to be the expectation, not the exception.”
And that’s how Deveaux feels, too.
He’s narrowed his college choices to The Citadel, East Carolina, Pittsburgh and Ohio.
But he said he won’t make a college decision until after his senior season ends, and he doesn’t want it to end for a long, long time -- like in a state championship game in December.
“That’s our goal,” he said. “We’ll have to play well to do it, but I think we have the pieces to do it. Man, I can’t wait to get started.”
Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr