After spending last year at Booker, safety Vince Sellers Jr. is looking to make a name for himself at his father’s alma mater.
By the Numbers
3 — Different teams Sellers has played for during his high school football career.
6 — Sellers' age when he first started playing football.
32 — Sellers' jersey number, which he wears in honor of his father who wore the same jersey in high school.
8 — Years Sellers spent playing running back before transitioning over to safety.
2 — Coaches on the Riverview High staff whom Sellers had ties to prior to suiting up for the Rams.
SARASOTA — Vince Sellers Jr. is finding strength in the familiarity of the past.
On Friday night, Sellers will suit up for Riverview High — his third team in as many seasons — and step inside the Ram Bowl for the first time.
But Sellers won’t be alone.
Defensive backs coach Jim Anderson, who coached his father, the elder Vince Sellers, at Riverview, and Josh Smithers, his former head coach at Cardinal Mooney, who is now an assistant at Riverview, will be on the sidelines to guide him.
But the 5-foot-11, 164-pound junior safety recognizes that familiarity also comes with its own expectations.
“They helped me get a chance because they know I can play the game,” Sellers says. “They also expect a lot from me because they know what I’m capable of. Coach Anderson also knows my dad, and he knows my dad is really tough.”
Sellers began playing football when he was 6, in large part because of his father, who also was a defensive back for the Rams.
“He thought it would be a great sport for me,” Sellers says.
Sellers Jr. grew up playing running back before transitioning over to safety during his freshman season at Cardinal Mooney. Sellers Jr. finished with three interceptions to go along with a pair of rushing touchdowns.
“It’s like the quarterback on the field,” Sellers says. “You get to be a leader, hit people and still go up for an interception. It’s a lot of fun.”
Following his freshman year, Sellers transferred to Booker High, where he helped lead the Tornadoes to a district runner-up finish and a berth in the playoffs.
It was during his sophomore season at Booker that Sellers further developed his skill set under the guidance of defensive backs coach Dwight Henry, who played for East Carolina University and the San Francisco 49ers before spending the last five years of his career in the Canadian Football League.
“He taught me how to cover and how to play off the receiver,” Sellers says. “I learned most of my game there.”
In the offseason, Sellers decided to transfer to his father’s alma mater where he plans to finish out his high school career.
Sellers has yet to play a down for Riverview, but he’s already been pegged as one of the leader’s of the Rams defensive — a role he is more than ready to tackle. Sellers looks to use his vocalness on the field to hold his teammates accountable as the Rams look to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
“I’ve had a hard time moving from school to school, but Riverview is a nice fit,” Sellers says. “I really enjoy them, and they really enjoy me. I enjoy the surroundings. We’ve got some really dedicated people, and the players are passionate about playing football.
“I’m having fun being with the players,” Sellers said. “The offseason was about building relationships with the players on the team and becoming a leader.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].
IN HIS OWN WORDS
Who is your favorite player?
Adrian Peterson. He’s tough, dedicated, and he’s really passionate about playing football. He’s also really smart on the field.
If you weren’t a safety, which position would you want to play?
Running back. It’s my old position. I’m pretty fast and tough through (adversity). If it’s third-and-1, and you need a first down, I’m the man to go to. I’m the athlete.
Do you have any pregame rituals?
I pray before every game. I get down on my knees and thank God for allowing me to play the sport that many people wish to play. Then, I look up in the stands to my mom and dad and pad up.
Do you play any other sports?
I think I’m going to run track and try and play basketball this year.
What’s one thing that people might not know about you?
I’m good with computers, especially fixing them.
What’s your favorite pregame meal?
Pasta. It’s just a really healthy and good meal to eat.
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.