Practice Tour: AJ Portee

ATLANTA--- In addition to supplying a solid pass rush to Mays' defense, A.J. Portee provides the Raiders with swagger and experience.

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    "He brings attitude to our team," said Jesse Solomon, Mays' head football coach. "I like his attitude.

    "He learned a lot from last year. And I think if he grows from last year, he should be an even better player this year and lead our defense.

    "We're missing a lot of people from last year and have a lot of turnover [from our defense]. But hopefully he'll be one of our upfront leaders."

    Portee, a very lean 6-foot-4 defensive end, collected 70 tackles and 13 sacks and was named to the all-district team during his junior season.

    Besides his defensive end duties, Portee is expected to see reps on offense for the first time during his high school career.

    "We'll use him as a backup tight end in special situations, because of his big body and his ability to be physical," said Solomon. "Hopefully he can help us on that side of the ball when we call for him."

    Over the summer, Portee was named one of the team's captains, a position he takes very seriously.

    "I have to be a leader on the team since I'm a captain," said Portee. "I play a big part on the team by setting an example."

    This fall, Portee hopes to lead Mays to a GHSA 4A State Title.

    "Really, we have to go hard because we don't have that much depth," said Portee. "We have to stay injury free. If we can withstand injuries, then we can get [a title]."

    Solomon, though, isn't as optimistic.

    "It's a matter of whether they're going to respond," said Solomon. "The guys last year had been together a while and I had a pretty good group of guys and the coaching staff had them in pretty good shape. They had the right direction and good form and it worked for them. Hopefully we'll have carry-over this year.

    "But no games have been played, yet. We'll have to play a few games and see how they come out."

    Mays opens up its 2007 campaign a week from Friday when they host Atlanta (Ga.) Washington.

    Recruiting Update

    Portee has begun to establish a list of favorites and research those favorites.

    "I've been really talking with North Carolina, Mississippi State, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt," said Portee. "Those are my top five and I'm interested in Central Florida."

    Since the NCAA banned text messaging, Portee has taken it upon himself to keep in touch with his primary recruiters at each school. Each week he said he calls David Kelly of UCF, Terry Price of Auburn, Tommy Thigpen of UNC, and David Turner of MSU.

    Portee, who holds scholarship offers from Auburn, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt, is hearing positive things regarding the possibility of a UNC offer from Thigpen.

    "[Coach Thigpen] talks about the possibility," said Portee, who noted that UNC assistant coach John Blake is also now involved in his recruitment. "They looked at my highlight tape and they really liked it. He said he wants to get back up here and see me and stuff like that. He said they might offer after they see a couple of my games."

    This fall, Portee figures to spend quite a few Saturdays at college stadiums. While he hasn't scheduled any trips, he said he definitely wants to visit both Auburn and UNC for games.

    A.J. Portee Profile

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