TAMPA – Berkeley Prep lost two leaders in graduating seniors Jacob Mathis and Peyson Hunt, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have a core group of captains this season. One of the top leaders on this team is rising senior defensive end Sandro Maxwell.
Maxwell, a 6’4″, 220-pounder has already gained 15 lbs. this off-season as he switched from linebacker to defensive end last year. He called the transition to end very smooth.
“Our coaches were great in the process,” Maxwell said. “Defensive line coach [Michael] Cummings really helped me transition to put my hand in the dirt and get after the quarterback.”
Last season the Bucs went 6-4 and missed out on the postseason with a 0-2 record in 3A-District 4 play. Maxwell said the season was a lot of fun and felt that he learned a ton from Mathis on and off the field.
“He [Mathis] is a great guy to role model yourself off of. You can tell he works hard every day. He’s a great leader to be behind. It helps me lead my team this year just learning from him.”
Playing on both sides of the ball as a defensive end and tight end, Maxwell will serve as a leader on offense opposite Jacob Mathis’ younger brother Zach, a rising junior.
Maxwell’s focus for this upcoming season is to lead the team and be the best leader that he can be.
“To have the best relationship with my teammates,” he said about his role this season. “I want to bring energy to the team and make sure it is fun and intense at the same time.”
Last season, Maxwell totaled 51 tackles (17 for a loss), 11 quarterback pressures, eight sacks, four pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He had three games with two sacks apiece and totaled five takedowns over the final four games.
Maxwell calls his head coach Dominick Ciao one of the greatest men he knows. Ciao enters his 10th season at Berkeley Prep after taking over in 2007. Prior to that, he was the head coach of Jesuit (1986-2002).
“It’s a blessing to play for coach Ciao. It’s one of the greatest opportunities to play for him. His lessons have formed me and he’s a great coach and great person to be around every day.”
Starting his prep career at Carrollwood Day, Maxwell transferred to Berkeley Prep as a sophomore with his parents moving. He began his football life at age 6 where he played offensive line and defensive line.
Maxwell currently has offers from three schools, Connecticut, Bowling Green and Army. He also has interest from Air Force, Purdue, Pittsburgh, Florida International and Northern Illinois.
He says all those schools intrigue him.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity just to have a scholarship and to play college football. Football is what I love.”
Maxwell says his biggest strength is his motor. He never wants to give up on a play and feels like he always has a chance. He wants to improve on getting an edge against his opponents by studying as much game film as possible.
As a rising senior, Maxwell stressed the importance of being a leader and says his teammates help him build confidence. He calls this team the greatest group of guys he’s been around.
He thinks they can go all the way this year.
“Everybody in the locker room loves each other and we are all dedicated and working hard. We all look good physically and we have had a great spring.”
Maxwell’s biggest role model is his father Vernon Maxwell, a former defensive back at Oklahoma in the early 80’s.
“My father is my biggest role model by far. I see his work ethic every day and I try to be like him. Everything he does has to be perfect. That’s how I am also and that’s what I live by. He’s the perfect person to model myself after.”
As for his ultimate goal, Maxwell wants to to be the best player and person he can physically be and continue to become an even better leader to show the up and coming guys the way. He wants to major in either meteorology and astronomy in college.
Berkeley Prep has a solid group all around and is a team that should have a nice season. With Maxwell leading the defense and giving it his all on each and every snap I like what this defense can do on a weekly basis.
Sandro Maxwell will continue to get more offers and interest and rightfully so. Look out for No. 44.
Favorite players to watch – Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor and Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews
Playlist before games – Kanye West
Favorite movies – The Longest Yard and Remember the Titans
Favorite TV shows – Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Fun fact about you that nobody knows – “I love to dance. Dancing is my thing. I don’t break it out only when I need to.”
Nickname from teammates or friends – “Drizzy”
Game film: Maxwell’s Hudl tape.
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
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