A receiver, cornerback and return specialist, Stefon Diggs exploded onto the recruiting scene. He racked up 1,443 all-purpose yards, 13 touchdowns, 32 tackles and four interceptions as a senior, leading Good Counsel to its third consecutive WCAC title. He?s considering Cal, Virginia and Florida, among others.Read More Below
At 6-foot-1 and 190-pounds with 4.4 40 speed, Stefon Diggs has always had talent. That's been clear from the moment he took the field as a five-year-old, blossoming as he entered his freshman year at Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.). Even then, his reputation preceded him.
"People knew of this kid's ability," said Good Counsel coach Bob Milloy. "I knew we had something pretty good before we got him."
Following a phenomenal prep career -- one that included U.S. Army All-American honors -- he's only justified that hype. He's danced past overmatched defenders, tallying 37 touchdowns since his junior season. He's starred as wideout, cornerback and return man. He even says the right things. "I carry myself as a leader," he said. "I do everything for my team."
At just 18-years-old, he seems to have it all figured out. But it wasn't always that way.
Four years ago, as an eighth-grader, Diggs was unmistakably raw. He coasted by on talent alone, and, like many budding athletes, failed to account for the consequences of his actions. Before a nationally televised game in October 2008, he engaged in a scuffle with a classmate. Good Counsel's principal promptly suspended him for the game.
"We were playing DeMatha (Md.) live on ESPN," said Milloy. "That had to hurt him."
Then something happened: Diggs' father passed away. His life -- scrupulously structured to that point -- was flipped upside down. He was forced to reevaluate his priorities, upping his academic focus and serving as a role model to his younger brother, Trevon.
"I was forced to grow up and be a man," he said. "It made me understand life more."
That maturation translated to the football field. Since his sophomore season, Good Counsel is 33-3 with three consecutive WCAC titles. Diggs' legend has ballooned: He's transformed into a D.C.-area sensation.
His success stemmed from his dedication. Diggs spent countless hours in the film room, tirelessly breaking down opponents' tendencies. He'd note a quarterback's low release point, or a safety's knack for favoring one side of the field. Then he'd strike. He accounted for 1,443 all-purpose yards, 13 touchdowns, 32 tackles and four interceptions as a senior.
In fact, for all of his athletic talent -- which at the high school level, is nearly unparalleled -- Milloy calls his field awareness his most valuable asset.
"The thing that sets him apart is how he understands the game," said Milloy. "It was like having another coach out there."
To wit: On the first play of the 2011 WCAC championship, a 42-0 Falcons' rout, Diggs received a jet sweep headed right. Sensing defenders swarming, he decided to reverse fields, bounding swiftly toward the left sideline. He ran 71 yards -- past the Eagles' entire team -- to the end zone.
"That's just the way it was with him," said Milloy. "Stefon dominated our high school area."
It sparked a recruiting frenzy. Scouts clamored over his playmaking ability, with schools across the nation vying for his services. He's considering Auburn, Cal, Florida, Notre Dame and Virginia, among others, and plans to declare in early February.
But as the media continues to speculate, as fans and coaches try to sway him, Diggs will take things slow. He's savoring his final few months as a prep -- and spending invaluable time with his family.
That's the thing about Diggs: He isn't just supremely talented. He's distinctly mature. And as he furthers his gridiron legacy -- torching opponents and recording eye-popping statistics -- he'll accomplish something far more meaningful: honoring those who matter most.
I'm trying to get to the NFL," he said, "not just for me but for my family."