When you’re playing alongside a major college recruit and one of the most productive high school receivers in the state you can be easily overshadowed.
But that situation only served as motivation for Mydreon Vines last season at Greenville’s Rose High School.
It also helped Vines, a 6-foot-1, 172-pound receiver, get noticed by college scouts and earn scholarship offers from Appalachian State, Charleston Southern and N.C. Central. But it took just four days after earning an offer from hometown East Carolina for Vines to opt for the Pirates on June 17.
“It was a family decision,’’ Vines said. “My Mom and my family didn’t want me to go too far away to play. They wanted me to be somewhere they could support me. And I wanted to be around my (high school) coaching staff and my friends so they could see me play.’’
Vines hails from a close-knit family that first introduced him to football as a six-year-old.
Brothers Maleek and Marquis Gorham, accomplished football players in their own right, are Vines’ cousins. Maleek played running back at D.H. Conley High in Greenville and last season earned All-Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association honors as a specialist for Fayetteville State University. Marquis was a star receiver at Rose in 2010 and 2011 before making the roster at N.C. A&T in 2012.
It was the influence of his cousins that first fueled Vines’ desire to play football.
“I really looked up to them when I was little,’’ Vines said. “They were always working out and they’d wake me up in the mornings to go with them. That just caught my interest.
“Then, when I watched them play I knew I wanted to try it.’’
For most of his recreation career, Vines played other positions besides wide receiver. He even played safety for half of his freshman year on the junior varsity at Rose before being shifted to wide receiver where he caught 13 passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns.
Vines would play the first nine games of his sophomore year on the JVs as well, making 32 catches for 682 yards and 15 touchdowns before earning a late-season promotion to the varsity. He caught three passes for 36 yards in two games with the varsity, where he joined a receiving corps featuring Cornell Powell.
Powell was already an established star for the Rampants, having been a starter since his freshman season. A national pursuit of Powell by major college powers such as Alabama, Florida State, LSU and Ohio State was starting to unfold when Vines earned his promotion to the varsity.
Vines would spend the summer of 2015 and his junior season working and competing with Powell.
“Actually, him being as good as he is pushed me to be better,’’ Vines said. “I always wanted to beat him in anything we were doing, whether it was working out or doing a drill. It was a constant battle. I wanted to beat him because he was the top dog, so I really had to push myself.’’
The payoff came last season when both players displayed their talents in the Rampants march to the state 4-A championship game. Rose dropped a 27-20 nail-biter against Charlotte Catholic to complete a 12-3 season.
Powell, who signed with Clemson in February, led the receiving corps with 65 catches for 1,557 yards and 25 touchdowns. But Vines also made a name for himself by catching 41 passes for 645 yards and seven scores.
One of the season highlights for Vines came in an October 9th game at home against Southern Wayne. On a play in Southern Wayne territory, Vines was lined up alone on the left side of the formation.
“We had trips to the right and I was by myself against a cornerback,’’ Vines said. “He was playing about seven or eight yards off me. I looked at my quarterback, he looked at me and gave me the signal that he was going to throw the ball up for me.
“He kind of threw it up in the end zone and I went up and got it. I think that’s one of my real strengths, catching the ball in traffic and running deep routes.’’
Vines is expected to be the go-to receiver in 2016 for a veteran Rose team that should again advance deep into the state 4-A playoffs.
But he can’t wait until the day comes he can move a couple of blocks away and play in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
“I know they love throwing the football at East Carolina, and I love being on the receiving end of it,’’ Vines said. “I’m looking forward to seeing all the people coming to the games, the big crowds and the crazy atmosphere.’’