At 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, Alex Faniel probably looks like a typical upperclassman while practicing with Dinwiddie County (Virginia) High School.
In reality, Faniel is an eighth grader. And while he’s allowed to practice with the Generals’ varsity football team this season, Faniel can’t play with his high school team until next year, when he’s a freshman.
The wait will be worth it.
“Just being asked by your high school coach (Billy Mills) to take reps with the varsity as an eight grader is a big responsibility,” Faniel said. “When they asked me, it was a big surprise. Not every eighth grader gets to take varsity snaps and suit up for games, and I am very honored. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s given me the opportunity to learn and gain some great experience.”
Faniel is the starting quarterback for Dinwiddie County’s Junior Varsity team, and he’s still competing against players one and two years older.
Nonetheless, Faniel is thriving at the JV level, and he threw 5 touchdown passes and ran for 2 more scores in the Generals’ first two games this season.
“Between practicing and dressing with the varsity and playing for the JV team, the season’s been going great,” Faniel said. “Just being able to play quarterback against really good competition, it’s something I’m really enjoying.”
Faniel said attending NFA camps the past three years has helped prepare him for the big step up in competition.
“NFA has been one of the greatest experiences I’ve had,” he said. “They’ve really brought me to where I’m at now. They helped fix my mechanics, which are still a work in progress. But with where I’m at now, I wouldn’t be here without NFA’s help and the things I’ve learned going to their camps.”
When he started playing tackle football at the age of 8, Faniel played wide receiver. He moved to quarterback the following season and there is little doubt he’s in the right place.
“There are a lot of things I like about playing quarterback,” Faniel said. “The biggest thing to me is having control of the offense, being the leader of the offense. Being able to have the offense in your hands, the guys look up to you. And I really like the big-game situations, being able to take control of the game where all the credit is due, good and bad. Those are the main things I like about the position.”
While Faniel is already positioned to be Dinwiddie County H.S.’s starting QB next year as a freshman, he is able to focus on the present instead of looking too far ahead.
“Moving ahead, my main goal right now is I’m trying to take it step by step,” Faniel said. “The next step, a goal I have is to become the varsity starting quarterback as a freshman. After that, everybody’s goal is to make it to college.
“To be honest, I really want to have my choices, if not through athletics then academics. My goal is to get a scholarship athletically and academically. I’m working really hard to accomplish that goal.”