Ivan Tagoe was not the athlete Paint Branch head coach Mike Nesmith envisioned when he looked at his freshman stat sheet.
After all, Tagoe played offensive guard and defensive line and led the freshman team in sacks.
"I was expecting a totally different-looking kid. I meet him, and he looks like a skill guy," Paint Branch head coach Mike Nesmith said of his first impression. "I asked him if he could catch, and he said, 'Yeah, I can catch.' Instantly, he showed that he belonged out there. He was running very good routes and jumping up and catching everything."
"Freshman year I was just trying to play, so it didn't matter what position I played," Tagoe said. "The transition [to receiver and defensive back] wasn't hard because I was athletic. It just came naturally."
The move paid off.
Tagoe earned Montgomery County 3A first-team honors as a defensive back after his sophomore season.
The 6-foot, 200-pound athlete played multiple positions for Paint Branch last season, seeing time at receiver, defensive back and even some running back.
"We had some injury issues at running back last season. [Tagoe] had never played running back before [last season], and we threw him in the backfield without much work at all, and he did a very good job for us," Nesmith said.
Tagoe rushed for more than 150 yards and made 18 receptions for 252 yards and three touchdowns. On defense, he recorded 43 tackles and three interceptions and earned All-Montgomery County honors.
That versatility will be utilized again this season, as Tagoe is expected also to play linebacker for the Panthers.
Nesmith said opponents ran and threw to the opposite side of the field, taking Tagoe out of the play. This season, Nesmith wants to move Tagoe around and make it more difficult for teams to avoid him.
"I joke with him that I'll talk to him before the game, at halftime, but during the game I won't have too much interaction with him because he'll be out in the field," Nesmith said of Tagoe's expected playing time.
Tagoe already holds an offer from Northeastern and has attended camps at Pittsburgh and Delaware. Northeastern made him an offer as a defensive back.
According to Nesmith, Tagoe is receiving interest from Delaware, Maryland and James Madison.
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Mike Loveday covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com. Mike can be reached at Michael.Loveday@espn.com