WINTHROP — Jack Vickerson is not your prototypical lineman and it does not take long to figure out why.

At 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds, Vickerson — who plays nose tackle, outside linebacker and left guard for the Winthrop/Monmouth football team — routinely finds himself squaring off against larger opponents.

He also regularly gets the better of them.

“I’ve played with him my entire life and it’s always been the same. He gives it everything he’s got and he’s special for his size,” teammate Alec Brown said. “He’s non-stop. Every play he gives it all he has and he can hit.”

What Vickerson lacks in size he more than makes up for in strength and tenacity. Through two games he has already recovered two fumbles and rarely leaves the field. According to Ramblers coach Dave St. Hilaire, he has played every snap defensively — with the exception of when the starters came out late in a 45-14 blowout win over Traip — and all but one on offense. He also sees a good amount of time on special teams.

“He’s just so intense. There is no 75 percent. There is no half speed,” St. Hilaire said. “It’s all out or nothing and when you watch him on kickoffs — he’s the gunner — within 10 yards he has a 5-yard lead over everybody.

“He’s just relentless and other teams find him quickly. Here he is he’s a little guy, he’s got the long hair and he’s firing through the hole or he’s coming up to make a stop. He’s lighting you up.”

Vickerson said he began playing football in the third grade and initially spent some time at running back, but it was not for him.

“I’ve never been good running with the ball,” he said. “I’ve basically focused on defense.”

According to St. Hilaire, it took some time early in Vickerson’s career to find the right position for him.

“I got to coach him as an assistant when he was growing up and we really didn’t have a spot for him. He was so small but he wasn’t a back,” St. Hilaire said. “We put him at guard when he was in eighth grade. He’d pull and on three or four plays that year he would decleat two kids on one pull. It was awesome.

“He was always a hitter, a tackler but he didn’t have a position. When he was a freshman they put him at wing back and played him at a couple different positions defensively, but when I took over last year I said, ‘Jack, you’re going back to guard.'”

To no one’s surprise, Vickerson was alright with the move.

“I said, ‘well, if that’s where you think you should put me then put me there,'” he said.

Finding the right position on defense continues to be a work in progress. Through two games he has lined up both at nose tackle and outside linebacker, but St. Hilaire has not ruled out potentially trying him at defensive end. There is one position, however, in which St. Hilaire can definitively say Vickerson fits.

“He’s a football player,” St. Hilaire said. “He’s not a dirty player, but you better keep your head up because if that whistle hasn’t blown, he’s going to take you and smack you.

“Kids love him. He’s the energy in the locker room, he’s the energy on the field and he’s a funny guy by nature. He’s just always himself. He’s just real. A great kid to have around.”

In many ways, Vickerson embodies many of the characteristics of this season’s Winthrop/Monmouth team. While the Ramblers do have some size, it is not necessarily their greatest strength.

“We’ve got a lot of speed on us, which we use to our advantage,” Brown said. “We might be small but we still deliver a punch. We don’t take breaks, we go all out all the time for four quarters.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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