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Whether it's scoring TDs in games (above) or running drills in practice, Brooke Point's Alex Figueroa goes all out.
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
Brooke Point basketball coach Joe Kania might've gotten a few ideas when he first saw Alex Figueroa.
The Brooke Point senior stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 215 pounds.
But while his size and agility suggest he could help the Black-Hawks on the hardwood, that's far from the case.
Figueroa is admittedly "terrible" at hoops because he's too physical.
He once played in a youth league in Quantico, but quit the sport because "I fouled out every game."
So instead, Figueroa focused on football.
He's a talented linebacker and wide receiver for the Black-Hawks.
The Division I recruit's ultra-aggressive nature is one reason why Brooke Point is the No. 1 team in The Free Lance-Star's preseason power poll.
"He's the most physical kid I've ever coached in the 12 years I've been here," Brooke Point head coach Jeff Berry said. "It's really not even close."
That's saying something considering the Black-Hawks have several players in college, including Virginia Tech defensive linemen J.R. Collins and Isaiah Hamlette and West Virginia linebacker Donovan Miles.
Berry said Figueroa is equally impressive, but needs to learn to control his aggression.
"He's always playing like he was just let out of an insane asylum," Berry said.
Figueroa is often punished in practice for being too physical. His teammates also want him to calm down.
"He's an All-American practice player," Black-Hawks' senior linebacker Mike Ford said. "We might have a half-speed drill and he's going full speed. Coach yells at him and he has to do some pushups. He just doesn't calm down."
Figueroa said he can't help himself. He said he practices the way he plays the game--all out.
Berry said when he tells the rest of the team to do a drill at a slower pace, he has to emphasize to Figueroa to do "one-twentieth" of what he normally does.
"When he tells me that, I'm like, 'Coach, I'm still going to hit the mess out of someone,'" Figueroa said. "I can't control it. It's how I play."
Figueroa's physical nature has earned him accolades.
He was an All-Area defensive end last season.
He's one of 400 nominees to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Jan. 7.
"He has some physical gifts," Berry said.
Still, Berry wants him to play more under control.
His aggression sometimes leads to him being out of position on defense.
Offensively, Figueroa goes for "knockout" blocks and often whiffs.
"That's my biggest weakness on offense," Figueroa said. "I'm always looking to knock someone's head off and they end up flying past me. That's what kills me."
Figueroa, a California native, is the son of two former Marines.
He moved to Stafford County from North Carolina when he was 6 years old.
He said when he was 9 his father encouraged him to play football.
As he continued to grow and get stronger, it became apparent he could have a future in the sport.
Berry sensed it when Figueroa was still at Stafford Middle School.
"I thought, 'There are so many intangibles, but if everything works out, we're going to have a real special player for four years at our school,'" Berry said. "Things so far have worked out."
Figueroa has played varsity since his freshman year. He's been a three-year starter for the Black-Hawks. He admits he has some work to do in the classroom before he can receive a scholarship offer.
But Virginia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina, Penn State and Rutgers are his top five choices.
Berry said if Figueroa hits a "grand slam" in the classroom this semester, he can receive an offer.
"Of course football is on my mind, but that's my biggest concern this year," Figueroa said. "I just want to focus on my grades, make sure I do excellent and make myself eligible."
If so, it will be up to a college team to harness Figueroa's aggressive nature.
"He's working on it," Berry said. "But it's a good problem to have."
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526
PRESEASON TOP FIVE
The Free Lance-Star is counting down its preseason top five area high school football teams. The annual preview edition is included in today's edition.
Sunday: No. 5 Massaponax
Monday: No. 4 Courtland
Tuesday: No. 3 JM
Yesterday: No. 2 Colonial ForgeTODAY: No. 1 Brooke Point