Physically, few prospects in the state of North Carolina are more impressive than Durham (NC) Mount Zion defensive end Hakeem Vinson. At 6-3, 235 pounds, Vinson was timed at 4.53-seconds in the 40-yard dash earlier this year at the Shrine Bowl combine held in Apex. While at NC State’s camp over the summer, he was one of the most explosive defensive ends in attendance and at times, appeared unblockable coming off the edge.
While athletic ability has never been a question, Vinson needed to make strides in the classroom to qualify for college football and decided to transfer from South Johnston High School to Mount Zion for the 2008 season.
He says the move has been a positive step in the right direction.
“I really made the move just for grade purposes. It wasn’t anything with the coaches or anything like that. It was just to help get my grades better.
“It’s a different environment at Mount Zion and it’s a lot more focused on your grades. I stay on campus at Mount Zion and that’s been a help. When I was at home, I was actually like 30 minutes away from South Johnston so some nights when I got home from practice it would be like midnight . But so far my academics have been improving a lot.”
Vinson has played primarily at defensive end but has also spent time at linebacker. He’s helped lead Mount Zion to a 5-2 record so far.
On the recruiting front, it appears that NC State is clearly showing Vinson the most interest and the Pack has have impressed him on several fronts.
“Right now, it’s pretty much State,” said Vinson. “My D-line coach played at Fayetteville State and they really want me. But Wake Forest is still talking to me and Carolina is still in touch as well.
“But I like the coaches (at State) a lot. I talk to coach Swepson and he’s just a real cool guy. The facilities are nice but I’ve toured the school before because one of my friends, his mom works there. I’ve got a couple of other friends that play there and they’ve told me all about State.”
The Pack has made it clear that they would like Vinson to be a part of the 2009 recruiting class if he can get his academics in order.
“State has told me I have an offer if I can qualify. They’ve talked about me possibly going to a prep school if I don’t qualify but that’s the least of my worries right now. I’m just working to qualify this year so I can come in. I’ve been talking to coach Swepson and he’s got all my stuff (academic information) just to make sure everything is still in order.”
So does that automatically mean Vinson plans to attend NC State?
“I can’t really say right now. I’m not 100% sure. I’d say it’s 80-20 for State right now because they’re showing a lot of attention and interest. I’m loving the program and I believe in a few years we’ll be in the running to be ACC champs. They’re showing me that they really want me to come in.”