BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – Vikings defensive end Marquis Phelps has been around the game of football for nearly his entire life.
“I started playing football around five years old back in Ohio,” the senior said.
There were other sports that competed for Phelps’ attention growing up, but nothing has packed the same punch as being on the gridiron.
“It’s more physical. You can do things you can’t do in other sports, just the aggression of it,” he said.
Phelps and his family moved from his home state of Ohio to the Bristol area when he was in eighth grade, and he was eager to become a Tennessee High Viking.
“I just love the culture, tradition around here – just some great people,” he said. “Coaches, it’s a great family, caring, loving – they’re always there for you when you need them.”
The Vikings are certainly glad he came, too.
“He gets after it every single play, doesn’t take a play off,” head football coach Josh Holt said. “Perfect technique a lot of times.”
“He’s a physical kid. He’s a cerebral kid, too,” Holt continued. “He could probably set that whole entire defense from the defensive end spot.”
Phelps has become such a force at that position that teams have started scheming their plays to the opposite side of the field.
“People really try to stay away from him,” Holt said. “He makes it a lot easier to gameplan for knowing that he’s on the field for us.”
But, Holt says the young man is more than just the physical attributes he brings to the table each week.
“He’s a leader, that’s what he is, and he does it on the field and he does it off the field,” Holt said. “That’s good for our pups, our young kids around here that see that. They can say ‘hey, I want to be like Marquis one day.'”
“If we’ve got a bunch of kids trying to be like Marquis, we’ll be in pretty good shape.”
Phelps does a good job keeping up in the classroom as well, sporting a 2.7 GPA. He’s learned that lesson well from his father, Michael Phelps, who is in his second season as King University’s head women’s basketball coach.
“He sees all what their grades are like, he just makes sure that grades are always first and then sports,” Phelps said.
And he expects the same from Marquis, so he can continue to dominate on the D-line.
“He knows when to say what he needs to say a lot of times, but on the field – that’s where he leads is by example,” Holt said. “It doesn’t get much better than Marquis Phelps for us.”