Photo by Nick Castillo
Standout Soto helps lead Rattler defense
Therrance Soto stood out as a seventh grader.
Co-defensive coordinator T.P. Miller remembers meeting the senior safety for the first time at the 2013 Rattler Camp.
“He was still pretty much the same size,” Miller joked. “But the one thing about Therrance is (he’s) super smart. Real intelligent.”
Soto isn’t the biggest player on the team. He stands 5-foot-7 and weighs 140 pounds. For comparison, his fellow starting safety, Kannon Webb, is three inches taller and 20 pounds heavier.
He doesn’t let it hold him back, though. In fact, he likes the underestimation that comes with his stature.
“Sometimes, I think it’s just my mindset,” Soto said. “I just really don’t care how big you are on the other side, it doesn’t really matter to me. I think it just gives me the upperhand. Because the dudes on the other side probably doubt me, just looking at maybe the stat sheet. And then they come out and see me on the field, they’re like ‘OK, this ‘finna’ be easy.’”
It’s never easy. Soto might be the most physical player on the roster. He racked up 95 total tackles last year, second-most on the team. He’s already up to 55 this season, pacing the team with a career-high 11 tackles per game.
“That’s just my D-line getting right, my D-line filling their gaps better,” Soto said. “And then my linebackers being able to steal the incoming blockers. That just frees me up. So, if anything, I’ve just got to give credit to those dudes because they allow me to have those types of opportunities in the game.”
Miller points to Soto’s football IQ as the source of his success. Soto is able to read the offense like a book. He usually knows what play is coming before the ball is even snapped, just by looking at what formation the other team is in.
From there, Soto is able to setup the defense, telling his teammates where they need to be.
“If you put them on a board, he can tell you every person’s alignment, responsibility and what their key is, their responsibility on all levels,” Miller said. “Talking about the coverage, talking about the blitzes, he knows it all.”
Soto’s prophetic ability can lead to big plays. The safety has two forced fumbles and two tackles for a loss this year.
One of his biggest tackles came in the Rattlers’ most recent game against Converse Judson on Sept. 28.
Early in the second quarter, the Rockets had the ball on 1st and 10 at the San Marcos 44-yard line. Junior quarterback Mike Chandler II received the snap, kept the ball on a read option and stormed up the middle to the 39. Chandler broke an arm tackle then cut back, returning behind the line of scrimmage, trying to turn the corner for a long run.
Soto was the only defender left in the area, with nothing but open field behind him. At 6-foot-1, 184 pounds, Chandler isn’t easy for anybody to take down.
It didn’t matter. Soto dropped his shoulder, collided into the quarterback’s legs and brought him down for a three-yard loss.
“That’s a hard thing to do,” Miller said. “An open field tackle — and I’m talking about open field where it’s just you and him, mano a mano … It was a hard tackle. And he used his sideline, he tracked the near hip, he gained that ground, he kept his power foot down, he was able to to plant and make that tackle and run through the legs of that quarterback.”
The safety popped right back up after the play and stood over Chandler, still lying on the ground. He looks a lot bigger when you’re lying on your back.
Soto has half a season left in his high school career. There’s still plenty he wants to accomplish.
“As a team, these next five games, I want to win all of them, you know. Get us where we need to be in games,” Soto said. “But I kind of want a TD or something. Maybe a touchdown.”
How can he make it happen?
“Keep on hustling.”