Versatility Brings Out the Best in Stone Bridge's Tanner Karafa

At the end of his junior season, 6-foot-3 tight end Tanner Karafa earned new responsibilities.

When Ashburn's Stone Bridge High School lost a linebacker due to injury in the playoffs, Karafa got the call.

There wasn't much time to learn how to play outside linebacker.

"We put him on the edge and told him to go get the football," Bulldogs Coach Mickey Thompson said. "He came up with a lot of amazing plays, but didn't know how to make many reads.

"You can't just go to linebacker and play."

Karafa played well enough to earn a starting spot on both sides of the ball next season. He also garnished some recruiting looks to play defense.

A glance at the 17-year-old's offer list provides two major Division I programs — University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.

The Wahoos want Karafa to play tight end and H-back.

He's not sure where he fits in Blacksburg, but owns no preference to offense or defense.

"I was getting recruited by Bud Foster and he wants me to play defense," Karafa said. "Coach Stinespring wants me to play tight end."

His first visit to Tech came on Feb. 8's Junior Day. That's when the Hokies' offer came.

"All the coaches came in and introduced themselves and the recruits introduced themselves too," he recalled. "Coach Stinespring gave a powerpoint presentation filled with numbers and figures about the success and tradition there.

"Current players came to talk to us, it was very well-organized and informational. I was impressed by their presentation."

While Karafa acknowledges the in-state schools are his biggest offers, he is keeping all options open. The 240 pounder also plays first base for Stone Bridge's baseball team.

He thinks he has a realistic shot at scholarship offers on the diamond. He's also open to attending school in the Ivy League.

With a 3.98 GPA last term and an average SAT practice score of 2,000, Karafa is no ordinary athlete. He maintains a high drive to major in business or finance and puts academics high on his list of college requirements.

On the gridiron, he's also holding out hope for a couple more offers. He wants to have a decision made by fall, but won't say Virginia's schools are frontrunners.

"If Penn State and Boston College offer — I think they will, hopefully — they'll be in the game," Karafa said.

He cites effort level and focus as his main ingredients to success.

"I have no fears," he said. "All that tangible stuff is good, but my intangibles are more important to me."

In the offseason, Karafa has spent most of his time in the weight room with an emphasis on lower-body Olympic lifts. He's most proud of a 100-pound improvement on cleans over the last six months.

He now cleans 285 pounds while benching 335 "on a bad day."

His biggest weakness is inexperience on defense. Next fall, he'll start on both sides of the ball for the Bulldogs.

"I just need to improve in general," Karafa said. "I only had one real week of practice last year at linebacker, so I need to get reads down and all that."

Watch Tanner's highlights on his Hudl.

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Comments

With a 3.98 GPA last term and an average SAT practice score of 2,000, Karafa is no ordinary athlete. He maintains a high drive to major in business or finance and puts academics high on his list of college requirements.

I hope he keeps that drive, it will serve him well regardless of where he chooses to go to school or what sport he plays.

#thingsiblamethemvsfor

Sounds like the next Chris Drager. If he keeps his grades up in college, he has Rhodes Scholar potential.

He certainly seems to be pretty good at running that drag route.

Just took a look at his 247, looks like he had offers from Harvard & Wharton...want this kid as a Hokie but not going to blame him if he chooses Cambridge/Wharton instead (especially if he wants to go into finance).

I think what would help Virginia Tech is for him to get in contact with some of the finance professors. Derek Klock and Michael Kender should be the two guys pitching him. Kids from Pamplin are working at big-time firms (e.g. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley) out of the SEED/BASIS programs, that should be in the forefront of Stiny's pitch.