Before he became a sought-after cornerback prospect, Harrison’s Victor Pless was primarily focused on taekwondo. He did not fully embrace football until he gave up the martial art after earning a black belt early in his childhood.
The lessons still resonate with Pless today.
“It helped me keep focus and make sure I don’t get too low or too high,” he said.
Pless might need some of that discipline when he trades in Georgia’s hot summers for Minnesota’s cold winters. Pless, a three-star recruit and a member of the 2019 Marietta Daily Journal Dynamite Dozen, committed to the Golden Gophers in June.
Pless does not think the cold will affect him, with the field at Minnesota's stadium heated and the team often practicing indoors. Justus Harris, a running back from Roswell, hosted Pless during his official visit and assured him that the adjustment period is short.
“I was like, ‘How long does it take you to get used to the cold?’” Pless said, “and he was like, ‘It really only took me a month,’ so I should be fine.”
Minnesota has been successful at bringing in players from across the country, with 13 players from Georgia on its 2019 roster. For Pless, there were many factors that went into his decision.
“I liked the area,” he said. “I like the campus. I like head coach P.J. Fleck. He’s a real high-energy guy. I love him.”
Pless isn’t off to Minnesota just yet. He still has goals to accomplish at Harrison, which will be competing for the Region 6AAAAAA championship after falling short to Creekview last season.
“I’m ready for this senior season,” said Pless, who had 62 tackles and three interceptions a year ago. “I’m excited for it. I feel like we can do something special this year with the guys we have. I feel like we can go far.”
He plans to assume a leadership role this season.
“The coaches are looking at me to lead the defense,” Pless said. “They always say, ‘Make sure to get the guys in check.’”
Harrison coach Matt Dickmann said teenagers have a hard time being vocal, but he likes the leadership qualities of Pless and the rest of the team.
In addition to defense, Pless will also be the team’s returner and will be featured on offense as a slot receiver and running back. The Hoyas plan to deploy Pless on jet sweeps and crossing routes, allowing him to use his speed in the open field.
“What I’ve seen him do this year is get more involved with learning the offense as a backup, because he really has great hands and he’s really fast," Dickmann said. "He’s just a gifted athlete.”
Defense is still Pless’ specialty.
“He’s a shutdown corner,” Dickmann said, “so, anytime you have somebody with that skill set, you really don’t have to worry about that side of the field, and you can do a lot more with your defense.”
When he was younger, Pless was striking and kicking his way to a black belt. Now, he is only one football season away from fighting with the cold alongside his teammates in Minnesota.
“This is what I’ve been preparing for all my life,” Pless said, “so I’m just ready to get there.”