Blue Springs South cornerback Trey Vaval was awestruck when he went to Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 29. After all, he had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The senior played for the East Team in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl at AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
“It was special. I felt kind of famous,” Vaval said. “Playing in a big NFL stadium as a high schooler meant a lot to me. Our coaches were actual (former) NFL players. Our coach was Mark MacMillan (a former Chiefs and Eagles cornerback). It was good to get feedback from them and tell us what to do.”
While playing against some of the best high school players around the nation, Vaval had a standout performance. He had two interceptions, including one that he returned for a 24-yard touchdown, which netted him the Defensive Most Valuable Player Award after he helped lead Team East to a 26-7 victory over Team West.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to get Defensive MVP,” Vaval said. “We had really good defensive line and good linebackers and good DBs. Everyone on our defense was showing out. Getting that award meant a lot to me.”
Vaval said it was an exciting opportunity to play against other top players from around the U.S.
“It was actually a lot of fun. Instead of going against people I know here, I got to meet new people and go against players who are going (to Division) I and D-II schools,” Vaval said. “It was good to showcase what I could do against some players that are even better than me.”
Former Jaguars head coach Jon Oyler, who stepped down following the season to spend more time with his family, said it was a great chance for Vaval to gain more exposure, as well.
“It’s pretty cool for Trey to get to showcase his abilities,” Oyler said. “He definitely made some big-time plays in the game. We saw what kind of an explosive athlete Trey can be.”
Vaval said he will be taking his talents to Missouri Western State University after he graduates this year. He had a standout senior season in which he earned Class 6 second-team all-state honors by the Missouri Football Coaches Association. For the Jaguars, he had 40 tackles, five interceptions, three pass breakups, one forced fumble and one blocked field goal.
He also was a dynamic kick and punt returner. He returned 20 kicks for 371 yards and brought back 14 punts for 164 yards.
“Trey is a really explosive athlete,” Oyler said. “He has really good ball skills. What’s pretty cool about him is he’s not afraid of contact. He can hit you good. He’s the complete package as a cornerback.
“I watched him return kicks and punts and it was fun to watch. I don’t know that I have been blessed to coach guys who have as much get up and go as what Trey has. Watching his highlights, you can see what type of runner he can be once he gets the ball in his hands.”
Once he gets to Missouri Western, Vaval said he is taking a simple approach.
“I want to make sure I keep my head right,” he said. “I want to stay focused and make sure I play my best football and help my team get a ring.”