Atlee (Mechanicsville, VA), featuring Oklahoma-bound senior linebacker Ricky DeBerry Jr., went 8-3 this past season, falling to eventual state champion L.C. Bird in the first round of the 5A playoffs. The Raiders return some solid pieces on offense next season. Defense will be a question mark next year, as the group will be talented but young. A plus on that side of the ball, however, is the return of junior cornerback JJ Givens.
“JJ’s upside is unbelievable,” Raiders head coach Roscoe Johnson said. “He’s about 6’2” or 6’3”. He’s still going to grow, and he’s running like a 4.4. It’s good to have someone like Ricky around because you learn how to be humble. That’s the thing about JJ… he has learned how to be humble.”
Givens left Virginia Tech’s July 2014 camp with an offer from the Hokies. He followed up with a productive junior season according to his coach and could be in line for more offers soon.
“He had an outstanding junior season,” Johnson said of Givens. “He didn’t get the accolades I was hoping he would get. For us, he had an outstanding year. We moved him to corner and he had some interceptions. He has done nothing to where no one wants to recruit him. He’s got Wake Forest coming in. Tech’s already offered him. Wake Forest is going to pull the trigger here soon. Penn State. Michigan State. We’re waiting on Miami.”
Givens isn’t the only Raider to keep an eye on in the class of 2016. Right tackle Raymond Gillespie is an intriguing prospect and is getting a look from college coaches, while Ethan Ratke has college potential as well according to Coach Johnson.
“Raymond is 6’5” or 6’6”, 260 pounds or so. He was our starting right tackle and the upside for that young man is tremendous,” Johnson said. “He started off as a quarterback for us as a freshman. We moved him to tight end, but we don’t have a tight end, so we would say he was our inside receiver for us. And now he’s an offensive lineman as a junior. A lot of schools are very interested in him.”
The 5’10”, 165-pound Ratke made 4-of-7 field goals (long of 34), booted 37 touchbacks in 82 tries, and made 63-of-64 extra points (the miss was blocked). He was an all-conference selection this season.
“We have an all-state kicker in Ethan Ratke. If I’ve ever seen a Division 1 kicker before, we’ve got one now. He is just as good as those two kids who came out of Goochland (Vanderbilt starting punter Colby Cooke and Purdue kickoff specialist Thomas Meadows) a few years ago. He is unbelievable,” Johnson said.