By Phil Stacey
---- — When he was in the eighth grade, Alex Valles went to Washington D.C. as part of a class trip with his Danvers Middle School classmates. They saw the sights, went to the monuments and got a chance to soak in an abundance of American history.
Never did Valles imagine that he’d be spending his college years back in the nation’s capital — carrying a football along with a heavy course load.
The 17-year-old Danvers High football star committed to Georgetown University on Sunday, where he’ll continue his football career as a running back for the Hoyas.
“I went down on an official visit this past weekend and made the decision (Sunday),” said the 6-foot, 210-pound Valles, a three-year starter for Danvers. “The campus is awesome, the academics are amazing and the team really seems like a family. I really got along with the team, the coaches and the other recruits there.
“I really felt I’ll fit into their plans right away. They said I was one of their top recruits at running back and that I could play early on (as a freshman). I was excited when I heard that.”
Although Georgetown does not give football scholarships, said Valles, he received a very good financial package to attend the school. The Hoyas play in the Patriot League along with Fordham, Holy Cross, Colgate, Lafayette, Bucknell and Lehigh at the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division 1-AA) level.
Having attended the Georgetown football camp in the spring of his junior year, Valles was evaluated by the coaches there, who then saw him on film from this past fall. After a half-dozen games, in which Valles had rushed for 200-plus yards in two of those, he was offered by the Hoyas.
“They told me they really liked my speed and how I lowered my shoulder as a ballcarrier,” said Valles, the Northeastern Conference MVP who rushed for 1,172 yards and 14 touchdowns while leading Danvers to the NEC South title this past season and its first playoff appearance in nine seasons. “They liked how I go through contact and got to the next level. The coaches told me I reminded them of (graduating Georgetown 6-foot, 230-pound senior RB) Nick Campanella.
“Georgetown is losing three senior running backs from this year’s team (which went 2-9) and has just one true running back left on the roster. The coaches said they like to use three running backs, so that’s very promising for me.”
Schools such as the University of New Hampshire, University of Maine, Stonehill, Sacred Heart, Bentley and Holy Cross were also interested in Valles — whose older brother Nick is on the football team at UMass Amherst and whose young brother, Cris, will be a senior captain for Danvers High this coming fall.
Valles finished his three years at Danvers High having rushed for an even 2,500 yards on 341 carries (a 7.3 average) and 31 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 38 passes for 525 yards and seven more scores and finished with 252 points overall, including 40 touchdowns.
A high honors student, he plans on entering Georgetown as an undeclared major but is considering business, sports management and sports journalism.
“He’s a first class kid who is very dedicated to football and to the team,” said Danvers High athletic director John Sullivan. “Alex is a very focused individual and was their top recruit.
“He’s a lot faster than he looks, too. The No. 1 thing colleges look at is, how fast are you? No. 2 is, how strong are you? Alex is a fast, strong kid who can be very difficult to bring down. On top of all that, he’s a very intelligent young man. Alex fits Georgetown’s academic profile.”
Valles said his favorite memory from his senior season of football was his 233-yard, 4-touchdown performance in an upset win over the defending Super Bowl champions from Beverly, a game that turned around the Falcons’ season. “It made us realize we could play with anyone on our schedule,” he said. “It gave us confidence we were never out of any game.”