• John Macon Gillespie

Fortius Project Standout Welch Working Into Leadership Role For Baldwyn

Like most successful programs in the Magnolia state Baldwyn relies on its upperclassmen to mentor younger players. That system, when executed year and year out, produces the type of success we’ve seen from the Bearcats.

On Sunday rising senior defensive back Dequantrae Welch was dominant at the Fortius Project. He shaded receivers and made spectacular plays all day long.

By no surprise, Welch says that a former teammate has been working with him for some time now.

“I’ve learned from a lot of older guys. Especially Ovurton Gates,” Welch told SES Mississippi. “He always works with me. From last season to a few days out of the week now.”

“He challenges me to be a better corner, and he has been a big influence on me playing football.”

Welch, who also plays basketball for the Bearcats, initially only went out for football to add more strength and enhance his game on the hardwood. So the influence from Gates, as well as the Baldwyn coaching staff, have been crucial to his development.

“I went out for football my 11th grade year only to lift weights, but I started liking it and ended up playing,” Welch explained. “The coaching staff is great. They push us to be the best we can be. They teach everything you need to know about the game.”

A strong performance last spring, as well as fun and competitive 7-on-7 sessions last summer, helped Welch with his decision to stick with football.

That decision proved to be benefitial for the Bearcats and for Welch. He finished the season with 50 tackles, five pass deflections and three interceptions.

At the Fortius Project Welch showed that he continues to get better and better on the gridiron. His time spent playing basketball appears to have played a huge role in his raw talent on a football field.

“Basketball helps me roll my hips, get my hands on moving receivers and my footwork,” He said.

Though the rainy conditions made it difficult for all campers Sunday, especially defensive backs, but Welch still managed to make play after play. He played the ball as well as any skill position player on hand. Most times he got a hand on the ball before the receiver could, but on one particular play the receiver had caught the ball before Welch knocked it free.

“I know I can never give up on a live ball, because there are always opportunities to make a play,” Welch noted. “Fortius was a great experience. The coaches were very helpful and understanding with us. I like the one-on-ones, it gave me a chance to test my abilities with so much talent. I feel I had a good day. I got better at pressing receivers and also playing off speeding receivers.”

“I got to run an official 40, long jump and different cone drills. I’ve never done those things. It really taught me a lot. I learned to watch the receiver the whole time and not the quarterback. That helped me guard a lot guys at the camp.”

Now, Welch and his Baldwyn teammates will look to finish out the spring strong. This time of year will mark a year of football for the fast-developing defensive back. The reason he keeps going is because of the driving force behind, at home.

“The excitement of playing drives me, and everyone around me that motivates me,” Welch said. “My mother is one of my biggest motivators.”

“She tells me to stay humble and thank God for the opportunities he gives me. I try not to be negative because with God, who can be against me?”

This season he plans to be a motivator for some of the younger players. Which is another part of the journey that has brought Welch to where he is now.

Additionally, he is looking to make a move himself, and continue to prove what he started to show on Sunday at the Foritus Project.

“After my junior year, I know my senior year will be explosive. Hopefully, I’ll emerge as one of the best corners in 2A,” Welch stated. “This spring my mindset it to start my senior year off right by showing my coaches what to expect from me this season.”

“Be on the watch out for the Bearcats this season.”

#Baldwyn #JohnLukeMcCord

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