Coach Robert Erves, Vicksburg HS

This is another interview in a series of interviews that Gene's Page is conducting with high school coaches in Mississippi. Today's interview is with Vicksburg High School assistant football coach/defensive coordinator/strength coach Robert Erves.<P> Vicksburg's record was 10-4 last season. With outstanding junior and sophomore classes, Vicksburg looks to make a strong run for the state championship this coming season.

I have several players from Vicksburg High School on my lists of top players in Mississippi. I'll just go down my list and mention players to you, then you can talk about them. First up is senior-to-be fullback Phelan Gray.
"Phelan is about 5-10, 235. He presently has a 510 pound squat. He bench presses 300 pounds and has a 555 deadlift."

Man, that guy is naturally strong isn't he? Kids that are juniors just aren't normally that strong.
"He is naturally strong but by my working with him, we are bringing out his natural ability."

How long has he been starting?
"Phelan started his sophomore year but hurt his leg in the Madison Central game. We lost him the rest of that season but he has come back and been a star for us ever since."

We talked about his size and strength, what are some of the other things that make him a special back?
"The way he is built, he has big calves and big thighs. He has great lower body strength. He is hard to bring down. His speed is exceptional. He has a very quick first step."

Does he play another position other than fullback?
"We also use him at linebacker because he is so tough."

What position do you believe he will play on the next level?
"Probably fullback but he could be a linebacker, a good linebacker."

Have you guys been receiving recruiting letters for him?
"I couldn't tell you how many. He receives letters everyday."

The next senior-to-be is your quarterback Justin Henry (6-3, 180, 4.6).
"He is one of the premier passers in the state. He has gone to the Bobby Bowden Camp two years in a row. All we heard were great things about him when he left that camp. He passed for 1,551 yards and 10 TDs as a junior."

What are his bench, squat and deadlift?
"Justin plays baseball so we don't have his max on his lifts."

What are Justin's strengths on the football field?
"Justin's ability to read defenses is a strong point. He doesn't make bad decisions. He is a heads up quarterback. He has a good arm. He is deceiving with his moves."

When did he first start for you?
"Justin started last year as a junior."

The next senior-to-be is defensive back D'eldrick Taylor. I've got him listed as 5-9, 175, 4.4
"His forty time is probably about that. He is 175 but he is still growing."

What are his bench, squat and deadlift?
"His bench is 225, his squat is 365 and his deadlift is 425. I expect him to get stronger."

How long has he been starting for you?
"D'eldrick has been starting ever since he was a sophomore."

What are his strengths as a football player?
"His ability to get to the ball and he is a big-time hitter. He is one of those DOG safety types. He is a playmaker."

I've got another kid on my page that is only a sophomore this year, Maurice Taylor. What can you tell me about him?
"He started out as a part time starter for us early in the year this past season, then he came on and become a full time starter for us late in the season. He has too much speed not to have on the field. He has good hands and can catch the ball. He is dangerous in the open field. He is not only fast but very quick. He can stop and pick right back up."

It sounds like he can become a big-time prospect.
"He will be a big-time player."

What is his height and weight?
"He is about 5-9 to 5-10 and 155 pounds."

I know he also runs track. Do you know what he has run in the 100 meters?
"They clocked him at 10.6 seconds in the state meet. I believe they used electronic times over there. I hand-timed him at 10.4 seconds last year."

We've talked about the skill guys, let's talk about some of the big guys you have. Talk a little about Paul Gorney. I have him at 6-3, 295. Is that correct?
"That's correct."

What is his bench, squat and deadlift?
"He is a baseball player. Because of that, we don't have his maxes."

What position does he play in baseball?
"He plays first base. He is good at it."

What are his strengths on the football field?
"He plays center for us. He reads the defenses well and calls out the blocking schemes for us. He blocks well. He has good feet, good coordination."

How long has he been starting?
"The upcoming season will be his second year to start for us. He played a little for us his sophomore year."

The next guy that I want to talk about is Delvechio Ellis. I have him listed at 6-4, 300.
"Delvechio is about 292 right now."

What are his lifts?
"Delvechio squats 520, benches 300 and deadlifts 500."

When did Delvechio start for you?
"He started as a sophomore. He will be a three-year starter for us."

Tell me some things you like about him as a football player.
"Del has good feet. He moves well for a big man. And he is very aggressive. He plays on both sides of the ball. He plays quick offensive tackle and defensive tackle. On defense, we only use players that can fly to the ball and Del is one of them."

Which position do you feel he will play in college?
"I really feel he can play on either side of the ball because he has quick feet and runs well. He has the talent to play on either side."

What have the college coaches said about Delvechio?
"They are impressed with his size, speed, and strength."

The next player is Johnny Daniels. Talk a little about him.
"We primarily use Johnny at defensive tackle and noseguard."

What kind of feet does he have?
"He has quick feet, he runs well. When Johnny was a sophomore, he was at MSU's camp and Coach Hendrick (the DL coach at MSU) came up to me and said, 'I am very impressed with that senior that you have.' I told him, 'Coach, you have two more years to wait on him, he is just a sophomore.' He told me, 'Coach, you are pulling my leg.' "

What did he like about him?
"He liked the way he moved through the drills, his footwork and how he reacted to certain things they were doing in the drills as far as attacking. He liked his techniques."

What are his lifts?
"Johnny benches about 300 pounds, he squats 485 and he deadlifts 575."

We talked a little about his strength and foot quickness. What are some other things you like about him?
"He can run a 4.6 forty. He is so quick and strong, he will tie up two people on the line."

With his quickness, have you ever thought about playing him at defensive end?
"That is where we had him at first. Then we decided we would move him inside where he could cause even more chaos, which he does."

Which position do you feel he is better at?
"I like him at noseguard."

Talk a little about another senior-to-be that you have, Justin Randle.
"Justin is going to be our inside linebacker. Justin is about 5-11, 198 pounds, benches 285, squats 465 and deadlifts 565."

What are the things you like about him as a football player?
"His strength, he reads well, and he has good lateral movement. He is a smart kid."

You have another kid named Rory Johnson who plays outside linebacker for you. Talk a little about him.
"Rory is currently a sophomore. He is about 6-2.5 and weighs 215. I predict he will grown to 6-4. He started as a sophomore for us. He benches about 250, squats 425 and deadlifts 485. His forty time is about 4.4 seconds."

4.4, he runs like a deer. I don't even have to ask you what you like about him as a football player.
"[Laugh] He is going to be one of the top players. He is going to be a big-time player. He makes plays. It is exciting to watch him play. He is also on the track team. He runs different sprints."

You have a couple of other kids, Casey Younger and Rodrick Erves. Talk a little about them.
"Casey, who is currently a sophomore, will play nose for us this year. He played tackle for us last year. Casey is about 6-1, 235 now. He played a lot for us as a sophomore. He squats 455, benches 230 and deadlifts 550. He has quick feet and moves well.

"Rodrick, who is also a sophomore, is about 245 and 5-10. He plays Mike Backer (Inside Backer) for us. He benches 265, squats 435 and deadlifts 465. He runs a 4.9 forty. He will be 16 in May. He is going to be a big-time hitter. He reads well and moves well."

Have you guys taken the players to college camps?
"Every year. We want to get our kids exposed to as many schools as possible. That is why we send them to as many camps as possible."

What camps did you take your players to last summer?
"They went to the Mississippi State camp, the Bobby Bowden camp, Grambling's camp, Southern's camp and Alabama's camp."

Note: Many players physically develop later than others and there is no way to know this until it happens. Therefore, the players mentioned above may not be the only potential D-I prospects on the team.-Gene

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports and Mississippi high school sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at

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