ND Devin Maples

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Maples returns to help his team

By Angie Ledbetter

“The fast and the furious” is the best way to sum up North Delta’s Devin Maples.  He is fast on the field and he is marked with noise, excitement and activity.  It is never a dull moment with Devin around.

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Maples started his football career at an early age in Chattanooga, Tenn. where he and his older brother, Dustin, played Pee Wee football. He continued it when he moved to Batesville and started at North Delta in the seventh grade.  Throughout his football years, he has played a lot of positions which where quarterback, running back, fullback, receiver, linebacker, safety and cornerback.  

He likes playing running back best because he says there is something about running with the football in his hands. And running is what he does with a 4.82 40-yard dash at this point, but he’s hoping to get faster as the season approaches.

This season he will play his favorite position with his  Green Wave team after transferring back from South Panola.

Maples quit football last year after just three games and transferred to South Panola.  He did not play football there and missed it a lot. According to Maples, football wasn’t the reason that he left North Delta last year.

“The change that I went through has made me appreciate school more this year,” said Maples. “Sitting at home got pretty boring.  Each Friday night, it was hard not being on the football field playing the game that I loved so much. I just tried not to think about it though.”

As far as the Green Wave team accepting him back, Maples said most of them did.

“I’m sure some of them doubted me and thought that I was a nuisance to the team, but I think that I’ve proven them wrong,” said Maples. “The seniors accepted me back. There is only one senior on the team that has played football at North Delta longer than me and that is Andy Barns. If I had not quit last year, I’d played as much as him. Even with me quitting, I’ve still been a part of North Delta football more than the other seniors.  From that aspect, it was weird for them to accept me back.”                 

Maples said his parents supported him and just wanted him to be happy and pass in the classroom.  

“They want me to play football but don’t think that I’ll try in the classroom, but I am,” Maples promised.

Maples said the thing he likes most about football is the love of the game.

“I like to watch it and I like to play it.”

Eighteen months separate Maples and his older brother, Dustin, but they both share the big common factor of loving football.

Dustin played at North Delta and was the star player on the team for a couple of years and broke some school records. The Younger Maples felt he was playing in Dustin’s shadow but tried to be himself. He found that was hard to do.

“A lot of times, I’d get discouraged because of him,” the younger Maples said.  “People expected me to play up to his level when I was in junior high and he was in high school.”

“He was always supportive of me,” Maples continued. “My tenth grade year, we got to play football together. Dustin would pretty much run over teams in the first half and then I would come in the second half and run the football. It was fun to play in the same games with him. That helped us to get closer.”

Maples shared his most memorable moment of playing with his brother.

“My most memorable moment was when we were playing Marvell and Dustin got taken out after the first quarter,” he said. “I ended up scoring more touchdowns than him. I joked to him about that for awhile. We took pictures together on the sideline.”

Maples likes the football program at North Delta. He said the football program is better as a team and the word “TEAM” is stressed more than it was in the past.

“The coaches want us to win but they want to make us better people,” he said.  “That is before winning to them. The coaches take one game at a time. They want us to have the best season possible. We’ve been good in the past and we’re going to be good this year.”

Maples liked head coach Richard Russo after he met him the first couple of days he was in Batesville.

Russo would open his house for the players to go over and play games on the Playstation or flag football.

“He has been a really good coach,” Maples said. “If we lose a game but give a 100 percent, he’d tell us good job and get ready for the next week.  If we played bad and didn’t play as a team, we’d get yelled at pretty good in a good way when we got inside.”

Maples has not been coached by Coach Lance Thomas much, but he has had his share of being chewed out by him.

“Pretty much all three coaches have influenced me,” Maples said.  “They go out of their way to help me. One point or another, I probably didn’t want that help and pushed it away. But I thank them for it now. They made me a better football player.”

If Maples is a leader, he is not a very vocal one.

“I’m very quiet on the field toward my teammates, but loud toward the other teams,” he said.  “I get pretty hot when I’m on the field.  I’m going to try and do better with that this year. I try to talk to my teammates in a positive way. I try to encourage them. If they’re on the field, they obviously have talent. They know what they are doing.”

Maples has high expectations of his team this year., Barring any team break downs he thinks they should not lose a game.  

“I think that we’re going to be pretty good as a team this year,” he said. “I see us going 10-1 for the regular season. There is one team that we play could go either way.  The team that I’d like to beat the most is Marshall Academy.  I believe that if we beat them, we will go undefeated. I will pretty much play every game the same. I’m hoping to give all of them a hard time.”

The team still has a goal of getting to the state championship.

“It’ll take us playing as a team to get to the State Championship game,” said Maples.  “It would mean a lot to me. It is something that my brother never got to do. Even though he didn’t, I think that he would be happy for me. It would mean a lot to him.”

Maples does not like playing any other sport. He has played basketball for fun in the past. In his spare time, he enjoys being at home or with his girlfriend. He feels that his education is very important right now.  He does not have any plans after graduation at this time.  He just wants to finish high school for now.

Maples had been No. 10 until he quit last year.  When he came back to North Delta this year, he was given No. 2. He said a number is not going to mean that much to him and a number does not make a football player.  When Michael Johnson transferred from North Panola, Maples gave his No. 2 to him because Johnson had been No. 2 for a long time. Maples took the No. 7 which he currently has now for his senior year.  

Maples is the son of Tony and Julie Maples of Batesville. His brother, Dustin, is a sophomore at Northwest Community College. He said that his dad is not outspoken about him playing football, but knows that he likes watching him play. Both parents attend every game and his brother comes sometimes to support him.

Russo said Maples came to him and asked if it would be possible for him to get back on the team at North Delta.

“I told him that he had to understand our team rules, why they are what they are and if he would just turn around, we would welcome him with open arms,” Russo said. “I don’t believe anybody deserves anything in this world but because of God’s grace, we’re going give people a second chance.  

“Most of the players knew that Devin could help us out,” Russo added. “I’m sure a few feelings were hurt at first, but they saw how hard he worked this summer and how hard he went through two-a-days. He’s been a leader both vocal and by actions, so it’s going to be a good thing.”

Maples worked hard this summer in the weight room with over 30 workouts. His speed is down from 5.1 to 4.8. He increased his bench max, knocking on the door of 200 pounds.

“That’s the strongest he’s ever been in his football career,” Russo said. “We’re excited about his work ethics. He has all the good potential.”

Russo said Maples could easily be a 1,000-yard running back if he puts his mind to it and keeps focused.

“That’s going to be the main thing,” Russo said.