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Division I offers continue to roll in for Red Lion's two-sport standout, Davante Dennis

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
Red Lion's Davante Dennis runs 80 yard to score a touchdown during football action against Chambersburg at Horn Field in Red Lion, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. Red Lion would win the game 26-21. Dawn J. Sagert photo
  • Red Lion's Davante Dennis excels in both football and basketball.
  • The 6-foot, 6-inch senior holds two Division I football scholarship offers.
  • Central Michigan and Massachusetts have made football offers to Dennis.

It just takes one look at Davante Dennis to understand why friends, teammates and coaches believe he has a future playing elite-level college sports.

The Red Lion High School senior basketball and football standout stands at 6-feet, 6-inches and possesses the athleticism to throw down a slam dunk on the hardwood and sack the quarterback or score an 80-yard touchdown on the gridiron.

After the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the college recruiting process for Dennis, however, doubt began to creep in that his dreams of playing NCAA Division I sports would come true. The scholarship offers weren't exactly pouring in.

Then, something crazy happened. Days after the Lions opened the football season with a disappointing loss to Central York, Dennis picked up his first offer from D-I Central Michigan. That offer from a Football Bowl Subdivision school changed Dennis’ perspective.

“It was kind of eye opening,” Dennis said. “Most of the guys on the team and coaches the past couple years always told me I could be really good in college, but internally I didn’t feel that anymore.

“(His family members) were all super ecstatic,” Dennis said. “My energy was raised and I was just super happy and I was so hype to tell the guys.”

Dennis didn’t have to wait long to share some more good news with his teammates. A week after his initial scholarship offer, the senior wide receiver/defensive end picked up another one, this time from NCAA D-I Massachusetts, which is also an FBS program.

Coach isn't surprised: Red Lion coach Jesse Shay said it’s no surprise to him that Dennis is getting D-I attention. The Lions’ coach said it was just a matter of getting Dennis’ game film in front of coaches. Once they saw him play and got a chance to see his growing frame, the offers would start flowing in.

“We always thought he had the potential. He has got physical measurables that can’t be taught,” Shay said. “So much of whether you get the offer or not comes down to metrics and he checks all the boxes there.”

Shay added that he recently received a call from a Power Five conference school interested in Dennis and he expects more schools to be after the senior in the near future.

Chambersburg's Brady Stumbaugh, front, runs the ball while Red Lion's Davante Dennis defends during football action at Horn Field in Red Lion, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. Red Lion would win the game 26-21. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Attention could help his teammates: While Dennis is excited about the recent attention he’s gotten from college coaches, he’s even more happy about what it could mean for his teammates. With coaches from all over the country looking at Red Lion’s games to check out Dennis, the opportunity is there for his teammates to earn their own shot at playing high-level college football.

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“It brings up not only my energy, but the whole team’s,” Dennis said. “Now there’s people watching us and at any given time maybe one of them could get an offer from exploding in a game where a coach was watching me or someone on another team. They’re always giving 300% and it’s just a great feeling. They are so energized, I’ve never seen half these guys so energized before.”

Trying to put on weight: Shay said all the coaches after Dennis want him to play defensive end at the next level. They like his combination of size and athleticism, along with his ability to get bigger while following a college football nutrition and weightlifting program. He had 7.5 sacks in 10 games as a junior.

Randy Fizer looks set to move back to quarterback for senior season at Red Lion High

Dennis said his goal was to get to 225 pounds by the end of his senior year, but after talking to coaches, he knows he needs to put on even more weight. To do so, he’s on a 5,000-6,000-calorie diet, which includes a number of strawberry protein shakes.

“They want me eating so much it’s not even funny,” Dennis said with a laugh.

Committed to football? The other thing college coaches want to know about Dennis is if he is 100% committed to playing football in college. NCAA football coaches love the athleticism Dennis shows on the basketball court, but want to know if he’s willing to leave the sport behind at the next level.

As of now, Dennis, who has received interest from Saint Francis University and Central Connecticut State University to play basketball, would like to play his senior hoops season, then sit down with his family and coaches and make his final decision.

“I’m just waiting for the best offer because I’m open to playing either sport in college because I love both sports,” Dennis said. “Whichever one suits me best when I graduate is what I’ll choose.”

Red Lion's Davante Dennis, right, hits the ball from the air after Dallastown's Kane Bowers aims for the hoop during basketball action at Red Lion Area Senior High School in Red Lion, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. Dallastown would win the game 45-40. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Focus on Red Lion: Until then, Dennis is focused on his grades and leading the Lions (currently 2-1) to strong 2020 seasons on the gridiron and the hardwood. No longer does he need to worry about if he will have the chance to play D-I sports, but instead at which school and what sport he will play.

The offers will likely continue to roll in for Dennis, but his current focus rests elsewhere.

“He hasn’t forgotten about this team, this season or this school,” Shay said. “He understands his first priority is always to Red Lion and that will help him get more offers in the future.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.