Mission Prep standout linebacker Andrew DeSesa has verbally committed to play football for Brown University in Providence, R.I.
At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, and working out regularly to increase his size and strength, DeSesa expects to play defensive end for the Bears — an FCS school.
Brown is an Ivy League school that doesn’t offer athletic scholarships but streamlines admission and guarantees a spot on the team for players they recruit.
Along with lineman Andrew DaRosa, DeSesa was an anchor of the Royals defense this year.
The Mission Prep defense held opponents to 14 points or less in all but three games this past season as the Royals went 11-2, losing in the CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division final, and beating five teams that won their respective leagues.
Brown has had winning seasons the past four years, including a 7-3 record last season, beating squads such as Georgetown, Rhode Island, and Cornell.
The Bears have captured three Ivy League titles in the past 13 years (1999, 2005, 2008) and produced NFL linebacker and long snapper Zak DeOssie, who has been selected to two Pro Bowls for the New York Giants.
DeSesa gave his commitment to the head coach Phil Estes after an official visit to the campus over the weekend and plans to major in business.
With a grade-point average above 4.0 and extended family in the area, the Ivy League school seemed the right fit, he said.
“My education was first and foremost to me,” DeSesa said. “I set a goal to play football in college after my freshman year, and I’ve worked very hard and stayed focused on that. I want to go as far as I can with football.”
As a freshman, DeSesa played on the Royals’ junior varsity team and suited up as a stringy 6-2, 140 pounder.
He played on the varsity his sophomore year and in the offseasons, DeSesa diligently hit the weight room and worked with strength and speed coaches to get bigger and faster.
“By my junior year, that’s when I really think I stepped into my body and started to have my way in a lot of games,” DeSesa said. “I gained confidence because I’d played a year already on varsity and understood the game much better.”
DeSesa led the Royals with 95 tackles as a junior. This past season, surrounded by a well-rounded defense, he had 108 tackles, again leading the Royals and earning all-CIF-Southern Section honors.
He also saw time on the offensive line as a senior, taking over at center when starter Brendan Ikeda was injured early in the season.
Mission Prep coach Chad Henry said that he and DeSesa spoke over the summer about his opportunities to play in college. Henry, a former Cal Poly quarterback, advised him to be flexible.
“I told him to stay open to playing any position whether that’s offensive line or defensive line,” Henry said. “I think he’ll make the transition to a defensive line position without a problem. He’s a very intelligent guy. He reads offenses well and studies game tape very hard.”
DeSesa said the Brown coaches project him as a defensive end in part because they expect him to get bigger, which will take away some of his speed necessary to play linebacker.
His fastest 40-yard dash time was 5.0 second, but he wasn’t timed this year because he had a foot injury when the Royals did their annual individual speed trials and likely he can run a faster time, Henry said.
He benched pressed up to 355 pounds last offseason before a pectoral strain limited his training.
The most recent Royals player to play collegiate football is Kevin Laird, who graduated in 2010, and is now a cornerback for Cornell, another Ivy League school.
“The fact that Andrew DeSesa is playing at Brown is great for him and great for us as a school,” Henry said. “That helps us to eliminate the stigma that a player from a small school like Mission can’t go on to the next level. And it signifies a culture change that kids here are looking to play in college and college coaches now are coming to the campus to talk about our players.”