It’s been a big season already for Joplin 2023 LB Draven VanGilder who has been a key player for undefeated Eagles and has drawn some college attention in the process.
At 5’10, 205-pounds, VanGilder has earned a reputation as one of the state’s top tacklers and defensive playmakers. VanGilder is a tough, physical player who excels at reading plays as the develop and quickly flying to the ball where is he a sure tackler. He has recorded 67 tackles in four games, adding two tackles for loss and a QB hurry. On Friday, the Eagles knocked off Webb City for the fourth consecutive season, and this week, Joplin will square off against Nixa (4-0) in an early season battle between undefeated teams.
VanGilder has attended three Six Star Football Showcases throughout his high school football career, including the 2021 Six Star Football Kansas City Showcase, the Six Star Football Kickoff22 Showcase at Lou Fusz in St. Louis last January, and was selected to attend TheFINALS All-America Showcase at Liberty North High School Memorial Day weekend.
“The season is going great both for me team,” VanGilder says. “The defense specifically is hard nosed and the guys that play it are not scared of a dogfight. The offense continues to improve week to week and I’m excited to see how far this team goes, the sky is the limit.”
VanGilder says his goals prior to the season was to get a win over Webb City, continue to improve and to lead his team.
“My goal to not fall back was big for me because I want to always improve and I do my best to make that a reality,” he said. “A lot of guys look up to me on my team and that can be daunting at first, but I realize they can relate to me as a student, and as a teenager, so I have been able to do that well I feel.”
VanGilder says he is a fan of former Oklahoma State standout Malcom Rodriguez and has followed him as he enters the NFL,
“I just loved to see how explosive he was, how hard he hit, his drive, and how smart he was on and off the field,” he said.
VanGilder says plans are in the works to take Game Day visits to Lyon, Friends and North Alabama this fall. He currently holds offers from Culver-Stockton and Friends.
When he’s not on the football field. VanGilder says he enjoys hanging out with friends and is an active member of his church.
I” have been rooted in my church since it first started and I am blessed to have that opportunity and to be able to have such wonderful people and friends in my life,” he said.