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Lilvasco Winfrey was joined at the signing by his parents. Shown, from left, are Vasco L. “Troy” Winfrey, Kathy Ivey, Lilvasco Winfrey, and Gary Reynolds.

Last week Thomson High School’s Lilvasco Winfrey signed to play football at Georgia Knights Prep Academy, located near Atlanta.

Winfrey, in his time as a Thomson Bulldog, made himself known in multiple roles — primarily as a kick return standout. He was the top kick returner in the state and returned 11 kick offs for touchdowns in his final two years as a Thomson Bulldog.

Thomson Bulldogs Head Coach Michael Youngblood explained how last year’s COVID-19 impact created a tough situation for graduating high school seniors. College seniors, rather than losing eligibility, were allowed to remain and play an additional year.

“The NCAA decided to let seniors come back. They didn’t hold this year against them and it hurt young men like Lilvasco and some other people on our team and across the country. Scholarships were very limited and you had to try to find them a home to further their education,” said Youngblood.

“We did what is called re-class. So, he is going to go to prep school and give them a good semester where he gets some college courses taken care of and after that we will go through the recruiting process again,” the THS head coach explained.

After that semester with Georgia Knights, Winfrey will try to sign with a college either in December or next February. Youngblood said both he and the Georgia Knights coach will be helping find the next step for Winfrey.

“His patience in this process shows how he has matured,” Youngblood said of Winfrey.

Youngblood’s most memorable Winfrey highlight was against Washington County.

“We were down 14-7 and I told him what was going to happen. I told him they are going to kick you the ball, you are going to take it to the house, and we are going to play lights out on defense,” Youngblood said.

Winfrey that night had three kick off returns for 155 yards, including the 95-yard return for a touchdown. The Bulldogs defeated Washington County 28-14.

Youngblood said many teams would attempt to kick away from Winfrey, but he would chase the ball down and produce a solid return.

What is his strength as a return man?

“I think he is fearless,” said Youngblood. “To be able to run kickoffs back you have to be fearless. You’ve got to throw it up in there sometimes when you don’t think there’s a hole there and all of the sudden the Red Sea will part for him and he turns it into another gear.”

“I still to this day do not know how fast this man is. You can never tell,” added Youngblood. “It’s not a knock on him, but it seems like the angrier he gets the faster he gets. So he has to find a way throughout his collegiate career and his prep school career to use that anger and talent and channel it to make him run as fast as he can run.”

Although Winfrey became a kick and punt return powerhouse, he also showed his skills on defense. Youngblood said he was a “shut down” corner. On offense, most of the times Winfrey was in he either got the ball or served as a powerful decoy.

“Sometimes, the whole defense would run toward him because they thought he was getting the ball,” said Youngblood.

The coach also praises Winfrey for his work ethic and determination.

“He was one of the first ones after the coronavirus hit and we were able to come back and do morning workouts and do different things. He was the first one here. He beat everybody here,” said Youngblood. “That is just a testament to when he has his mind set up to something that he is going to do it, then he definitely will do it. That is what the Georgia Knights are getting with Lilvasco.”

Winfrey was joined at the signing by his parents Kathy Ivey, Vasco L. “Troy” Winfrey, and Troy Reynolds.