New England Patriots’ defensive lineman Vincent Valentine wanted to play football in high school. But the community where he was raised Madison, Illinois, didn’t offer football during his high school days.
Valentine transferred to Edwardsville High School and earned varsity letters under head coach Matt Martin.
His work in the classroom and on the field earned him a scholarship at the University of Nebraska, where he graduated with a degree in Journalism. In addition, Valentine was named to the Scholar – Athlete Honor Roll in the spring of 2013.
Due in part to the success of Valentine at Edwardsville High, Valentine has formed a relationship back home as Madison High School who now offers football as a Co-op program with Metro-East Lutheran High School in Edwardsville, Illinois.
The third-round pick and 96th overall selections in last spring’s National Football League draft has been a pleasant surprise for the AFC champion New England Patriots.
During the regular season, the 6’3” 320-pound Valentine had 19 tackles and one sack. That came in his NFL debut in Week No. 1 against the Arizona Cardinals and Carson Palmer.
And, in his first post-season experience against Pittsburgh, Valentine played a huge role playing 16 snaps spelling Malcolm Brown and Alan Branch.
In a recent interview with Telegram.com, New England Head coach Bill Belichick complimented his rookie defensive lineman.
“Vincent has worked hard and has earned the trust and respect of his teammates,” said Belichick.
Vincent seems to think he has earned the respect of his coaching staff and teammates as well.
“I felt like I was playing pretty well early on, and I got hurt. So I had to bounce back and get use to the speed of the game and get my technique back,” said Valentine in a recent interview in the Telegram.com.
“It’s been a up and down year, but overall I’ve stayed level headed and stayed resilient and tried to work through everything that I’ve had to do.”
Vincent Valentine’s character seems to be a strong point with the mammoth defensive rookie lineman as well. While at Nebraska, he participated in Uplifting Athletes, making hospital visits with Cornhusker teammates.
Edwardsville head football coach Matt Martin and his coaching staff, his former Tiger teammates, former Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ed Hightower, the faculty and staff at Edwardsville High School will certainly be rooting for the big lineman to win a Super Bowl.
But family and friends back home in Madison, Venice, Eagle Park, Newport and Brooklyn Illinois will be waiting for the big fellow to return back to his roots win or lose for another parade through Madison like the one that was held when he was drafted last year.
However, this time he hopes to be experiencing a feat like no other from this area but one person that wore a New England Patriots uniform from the 618 area code, having just won a Super Bowl Championship.
That would be former New England Patriot linebacker and current Atlanta Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox.
Madison, Illinois and “The Bottom” will be waiting for you, Big Fellow!
It’s rivalry week and showdown week in two major conferences this week. The No. 3 ranked team in class 4A, the Edwardsville Tigers featuring the trio of Iowa football signee A.J. Epenesa , Mark Smith, and 1,000 point scorer Oliver Stephens, take on No. 11 ranked in class 4A East St. Louis Senior and All-American Jerimiah Tilman, Terrence Hargrove Jr. Minnesota football signee Reyoundus Estes, and Arthur Carter and the Flyers Friday night at East St. Louis with the Southwestern Conference title on the line.
Also, at Cahokia on Friday night: Belleville Althoff will travel to play the Cahokia Comanches with the winner taking control of the South Seven Conference.
Althoff will rely on C.J. Coldon, Edwyn Brown, and Marvin Bateman. While the Comanches will look to Thomas ‘Taco’ Bell, Richard Robinson, and Damond Harrison to beat the Crusaders. Tip-Off for both games is scheduled for 7:45 p.m.