Evaluation + Interview: 2021 Defensive Tackle Victory Vaka
The Westlake High School Varsity Football team (Westlake Village, CA) finished its 2019 season with a disappointing 2-9 record. Faced with a tough schedule consisting of some of the best teams in Southern California, Victory Vaka is determined to improve upon his team's lackluster performance last season.
“It may sound crazy, but I want to play the same schedule this upcoming year," Vaka said. "Me and my young guys, their feet got wet with the varsity experience this year, so I feel like they’re ready.”
Vaka spent the majority of his junior season lining up between the guard and center of the offensive line, eating up blocks like Joey Chesnut eats hot dogs.
“I can play wherever my defensive line coach will put me at," he said. "They love to put me at the nose and 1 technique, and head up on the guard. They’ll be some special play calls where I'm in a 3-tech or even at end.”
Coming in at 6-foot-3, 315 pounds, Vaka already has the size of a professional but must add a proper conditioning regime in order to keep up at the next level. He was quick to address his self-identified weak spot (there is nothing about this kid that is weak) as his feet, in his response to my question about his biggest strength as a football player.
“Probably my hands, and this offseason, I’m going to really get my feet right,' he said. "Of course, get my hands better, but there’s always something to improve.”
The humble Vaka has plus strength and plus lateral movement for a player his size. He demonstrates solid block recognition, a product of time and energy dedicated to his craft. Most of his wins are the result of his lighting fast first two steps, which are the key to success for any great lineman on either side of the ball. Vaka can push the pocket with authority, even when he’s out-leveraged by his opponent. His punch and extension remind me of former Stanford standout David Perry's and the way he locked out Pac-12 offensive lineman in his collegiate days.
Combine the get-off with his polished eyes and great extension, Vaka seldom lets offensive linemen in on his chest. If I were to be nit-picky, he does have a tendency to leave his feet too early after disengaging and going for a tackle. This is an improvement to watch for during his senior season at Westlake.
Overall, Vaka is a solid football player with a great understanding of the game and ability to defeat any block, as well as retrace in cases of screens. Vaka’s willingness to learn and improve will bode well for him. As a coach, I envy the coach who earns Vaka’s commitment. He has more than one dozen scholarship offers and has taken visits to LSU, Utah, and Arizona State so far.
On Friday Vaka announced a verbal commitment date of June 28.