Saints march to college

Published 10:33 pm Thursday, February 6, 2014

Michael Tyler Lepore, Jared Morse and John Mobley of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy's football team participated in National Signing Day as Saints coach Lew Johnston looks on.

Michael Tyler Lepore, Jared Morse and John Mobley of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s football team participated in National Signing Day as Saints coach Lew Johnston looks on.

It helps to dream ahead.

Three four-year lettermen from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s successful football team were able to follow through on their dreams Wednesday during a college signing ceremony at NSA’s Upper School Media Center.

John Mobley made the commitment to play for and attend Virginia Military Institute, Michael Tyler Lepore chose Hampden-Sydney College and Jared Morse signed with Bucknell University, following his verbal commitment.

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“I think in all three cases, we’ve got schools where they’re going to be very happy, they’re going to be successful, and as (athletic director) T.W. (Johnson) said, when they graduate, they’ve got their ticket punched,” Saints head football coach Lew Johnston said.

Mobley was excited to arrange his future with a Division I Football Championship Subdivision team.

“I’ve been working really hard for this a long time,” he said.

He’s had VMI specifically in mind for a long time, as well.

“I’ve actually wanted to go to VMI since I was like 10 years old when my stepbrother took a tour there when he was looking for colleges, and I got this sweatshirt that said ‘VMI,’ and I wore it all the time,” he said.

Johnston has family ties to VMI and encouraged Mobley to visit the school, which he later did, and loved it.

“It’s a perfect fit in terms of his character and his personality matching up with what a VMI Keydet is supposed to have,” Johnston said.

The coach said VMI was excited by Mobley’s potential to contribute to the team at his high school position of tight end.

“Apparently they’ve already made some moves in anticipation of him coming,” Johnson said. “One tight end moved to defense and another one moved inside. He’s obviously got to put some weight on, but he’ll do that because he is a weight room freak. He loves to lift. “

Mobley said the Keydets coaches will utilize him as “more of a blocking tight end than a receiving” one. He said whether or not he has playing opportunities to start the season “depends on how I practice, but as of right now, they think I might travel with the team.”

Michael Tyler Lepore described the signing ceremony in the context of his friendship with Jared Morse.

“I talked him into playing,” Lepore said. “He was a soccer player, and I talked him into playing football, and years down the road, we said, ‘You know what? We want to take this to the next step, and we want to be here on signing day, together up there signing.’ So this is really, it’s a dream come true. It’s awesome.”

Johnston said Lepore had interest from some Division I FCS schools like Cornell University, Colgate University and the College of William & Mary.

“But I knew that was going to be a long shot, because, bless his heart, he weighs 135 pounds soaking wet,” Johnston said. “But again, he is tough as nails.”

Knowing the uphill battle that would exist there for any significant playing time, he and Lepore’s father encouraged him to consider Division III schools. Johnston heard from Hampden-Sydney that if Lepore was good enough, he could actually play immediately.

Lepore had a positive visit to the school and “just really loved the campus, really loved what they told me about the classes, the small class size, and it’s just a beautiful place. Football program (is) top in Division III, so it’s a great place to go,” he said.

Lepore has learned HSC is interested in using him as an offensive player in the slot receiver position, which he is particularly happy about. Though he also has played defensive back, he said, “I’ve always leaned a little bit to receiver.”

Morse echoed Lepore’s comments about wanting to be a part of National Signing Day.

He said he told himself in 2013, “‘This time, next year I want to sign my name on the dotted line for some school,’ and it happened to be Bucknell University, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

He may soon see Mobley in an opposing uniform as Bucknell faces VMI on Aug. 30.