ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. --- After he collected 34 sacks in less than two seasons of varsity play, colleges have slowly flocked to Northeastern High to check out Traveon Freshwater. A handful of schools have offered the chiseled 6-foot-3, 225-pound 2019 prospect.
"The Man-Child," Northeastern head coach Antonio Moore said. "He's 6-3, 225 [pounds], and runs a 4.5 40-[yard dash] as a sophomore. He runs like a linebacker and runs like a running back, but he plays D-end well, also. He's so athletic and physical."
Three games into the 2015 season, Freshwater -- barely a freshman -- was promoted from Northeastern's junior varsity squad to varsity and immediately became a starter at defensive end. He showed a glimpse of what was to come by making 64 tackles and 12 sacks in just eight games.
This past season, Freshwater avoided a sophomore slump. He finished with 22 sacks and 150 tackles for an 11-3 team.
"We put him at outside linebacker and we blitz him; [opposing] running backs don't want to pick up the blitz," Moore said. "And then we put him at D-end, because he's quicker than average linemen. We put him all over the place, [defensively]."
Also during his sophomore season, Freshwater added running back duties. He rushed for 1,441 yards and 22 touchdowns with a 13.1-per-carry average.
"I put him in at running back as a bruiser, because nobody wants to tackle him," Moore said.
East Carolina, NC State, Old Dominion, South Carolina, and Wake Forest have definitely offered Freshwater. There is some uncertainty -- stemming primarily from the coaching turnover -- in whether North Carolina has also offered. But, the Tar Heels' staff is clearly high on the Man-Child.
"[UNC's coaches] are really excited about him, because they said he could be that outside linebacker/D-end -- Greg Ellis type," Moore said. "They said he's so athletic and so quick that he's going to be pretty good at end or linebacker."
At UNC's camp last summer, Freshwater worked out at linebacker.
Most schools, though, don't know where Freshwater fits position wise on the college level.
"Alabama likes him as a running back," Moore said. "Everybody else doesn't really know yet [what position he'll play], because his dad is like 6-6."
In addition to UNC, Freshwater has visited Duke and NC State. He plans to visit Clemson and South Carolina later this spring. He also hopes to return to UNC for a spring practice.
Five schools from the Carolinas have emerged as early favorites for Freshwater: Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, UNC, and NC State.
"I like the coaching staffs at those schools," Freshwater said. "They all have great personalities and they've been real upfront."
Freshwater is also a member of Northeastern's basketball and track-and-field teams... Freshwater grew up rooting for NC State and Virginia Tech... Three of Freshwater's cousins's played football at East Carolina: Shawn Fletcher, Devon Hider, and Daronte McNeill.