By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
MILLVILLE – Before he leaves to become a student-athlete at the University of Pittsburgh, Solomon DeShields has some unfinished business to take care of with the Millville Thunderbolts football team this fall at Wheaton Field.
DeShields, ranked as one of the top high school football players in New Jersey this season, will play wide receiver, outside linebacker and defensive back for the Thunderbolts his senior year. He will lead a young team that will try to redeem itself after losing a heartbreaker in the second round of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs a year ago.
Millville lost the first three games of the season last year before reeling off six straight and was one of the hottest teams in the state before the stunning loss.
“I’m very excited about the season,” the decorated returning all-state athlete said. “We have a young team because we lost a lot of starters on our defense. We’re trying to move in the right path to win a championship this year.”
Millville lost a tough 28-26 Group IV sectional finals contest to eventually state finalist Shawnee at home last November, failing to convert a 2-point version with seconds left that would have sent the game into overtime.
Advancing in the playoffs is part of that unfinished business for DeShields.
“Just getting past the second round of the playoffs would be an accomplishment for me,” DeShields said. “I haven’t got to the championship yet in high school, so that’s something I’m looking for it.”
Team Player and Leader
DeShields, who has built a reputation of being the ultimate team player, said while he has some personal goals this season, his main responsibility will be helping the Bolts win week after week.
“I want to get more than 10 touchdowns this season and have 500 yards receiving,” DeShields said. “On defense, I want to make 30 tackles. I prefer playing offensive but I’ll do anything to help the team win, so I’ll do both.
DeShields came to Millville as a sophomore from Bridgeton, earning most of his time on varsity. Through that time, he said he had to grow up and shoulder more of the responsibility for his team.
“I played a lot my freshman year, but I had a lot of growing up to do,” he said about stepping into more of a leadership role this season. “Now, I have a lot of young guys looking at me, so I have to set the right example for the team, do every drill right and put 100 percent into every rep.
“I take (being a leader) very serious. I know a lot of people will be looking at me on the off the field so I have to make the right moves,” he added.
Recruiting Trail Ends in Pittsburgh
DeShields said he was thrilled to commit to Pitt this summer after receiving some 27 offer schools at the nation’s top football conferences like the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12.