Drew Duffey just entered his sophomore year at Halifax County High School and has only played organized football for around six years, but he was recently invited to the VTO Sports All-American Challenge at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, in January.

The invite comes off of Duffey participating in a VTO camp earlier in the year and impressing coaches and officials enough to receive the coveted invitation. The All-American Challenge is invite only so no one can walk in and sign up to go. The invitations go to all high school football players and it is not broken down into age groups, so Duffey was able to earn an invitation over a lot of talented athletes that are older than him.

“It feels great. It feels really nice and great to accomplish something outside of the eyes of someone in Halifax and Virginia,” Duffey said. The camp is scheduled for Jan 9-10 and the invitation was based off of being one of the best athletes that attended one of the VTO camps, which Duffey did, or have been selected by one of the media partners.

The VTO Sports All-American Challenge bills itself as “the only national exposure camp that offers athletes education in both football and life skills sessions from respected position coaches.” The camp will also have media coverage from ESPN, Rivals.com and 24/7 Sports.

The 6-foot-1, 240-pound offensive lineman was a member of the Halifax County High School JV football team last year that went undefeated. Academically Duffey sports a 3.9 grade point average. He has also attended many football camps throughout Virginia and North Carolina in the last two years.

Duffey has attended football camps at Duke University, Averett University, Elon, North Carolina State, Shaw University, VTO Camps and Next Gen Camps. The camps over the summer that Duffey attended are usually spread out over several weeks so in between camps he has to stay in shape and continue to work out.

When talking about what drew him to the game of football Duffey speaks about how he sees the game as not just football, but a way to prepare for life outside of football as well.

“It (football) is a really good thing to get involved with and play, especially the structure that the coaches instill in you and football became more of a life thing for me instead of a sport,” Duffey said,

“Especially learning from coaches because they teach life outside of football as well, they always tell us that student comes before athlete and they tell us that after football they always want to coach great men not just great players,” he added.

Duffey credits those coaches with helping him grasp onto the game of football and help teach those life lessons. Duffey’s father, Ronnie, says that his son knows the game of football “up one side and down the other.” He said Duffey is football savvy and has worked hard to get to where he is athletically and academically.

Ronnie also noted that Duffey has signed with the National College Student Athlete group, which is the world’s largest, and most experienced college athletic recruiting network. Duffey has a recruiting coach in Chicago, Illinois that helps him get his videos online and get noticed by colleges around the country. He has already gotten interest from some Division 2 and Division 3 schools, but they are hoping after the All-American Challenge and his sophomore football season that by the time colleges can contact him next year he will have some bigger schools looking at him.

Duffey said his father and coaches played an integral part of getting him into the camps to showcase his skills to have the chance to get the invite to the All-American Challenge. Ronnie has noticed the change that has come with attending the camps as well. “Going to the camps has really helped him out,” he said.

While he prepares for the All-American Challenge next month, Duffey has his eyes set on getting an opportunity to play college football after high school. “That is the ultimate goal.”

Johnathan Kirland is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him jkirkland@gazettevirginian.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnathanK_GV