INDIANAPOLIS — Damien Shanklin from Warren Central High School has been named the Colts/Nike "Next One."
Shanklin found out about the honor back in January after a surprise visit from Colts cornerback and Warren Central grad JuJu Brents.
"I used to watch him when he was in high school so it means a lot that he would come back and support. Also, just me meeting him and getting to talk to him means a lot," said Damien Shanklin, a junior at Warren Central.
The inaugural Next Ones program is an invite-only event for the top 32 prospects in each NFL market, plus one international prospect.
Shanklin plays defensive end for the Warriors and is the second ranked high school football prospect from Indiana by ESPN.
The attendees are invited to Las Vegas to experience behind-the-scenes action at Super Bowl LVIII, compete in a skills clinic at Allegiant Stadium and interact with their fellow classmates who will be playing at the collegiate level.
"Made a whole lot of sense. Damien is a great kid from Warren Central, obviously he’s one of the top prospects in the state at the defensive end position, great kid in the classroom as well," said Andy Matis, the youth football manager for the Colts.
"It means a lot knowing Gods there with me and being able to accomplish a lot in life but also with academics and football," Shanklin said.
Shanklin started playing football in the third and says his grandma got him into it.
"I started off as quarterback, nobody would ever know it, started doing that and I fell in love with football," Shanklin said.
Now Shanklin through football, Shanklin is representing the east side of Indy on a national stage. He's receiving offers from schools like Notre Dame, Michigan and USC.
"Anything is possible if you put your mind to it," Shaklin said. "When I was younger I never knew or thought that I was gonna be in this position where I would have all these offers and talking to all these colleges, but I just kept pushing and pushing every day to be a better person. Also just hanging around the right people that motivated me to do that right thing."