There were times this summer when Alec Lemon felt like he could hardly catch his breath.
The Arundel wide receiver had a seemingly nonexistent summer break, embarking on an almost nonstop schedule of college visits, camp appearances and combine performances.
But it all paid for Lemon last week, when the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder verbally committed to Syracuse.
“It feels real good actually. I’m real excited,” Lemon said. “I called them [Thursday] night after 10. They kind of thought I was thinking of committing there for awhile. Me and [my] family were talking about it, going through the options [and thought it was the right time to commit]. But [the Syracuse coaches] were excited. They were pumped.”
Lemon shined as a junior for the Wildcats, catching 70 passes for 969 yards and 13 touchdowns, helping his team to the 4A state championship game against Quince Orchard.
But after the season, when scholarship offers didn’t start pouring in, Lemon and his stepfather, Sean Asbury, became proactive with his recruitment.
“We had to take the approach that since not many colleges were coming toward me, we had to come to them,” Lemon said. “So I made a lot of contact, went to the camps and impressed them there.”
The first stop on Lemon’s summer itinerary was Louisville’s camp in early June. The father-son duo flew from Baltimore to Kentucky and back. Days later, Lemon and Asbury loaded up the family’s 2004 Chevy Malibu and made the drive from their Crofton home to Nashville, Tenn., for Vanderbilt’s camp.
When the Commodores’ camp was complete, Lemon and Asbury hit the road again, this time heading to Louisiana for Tulane’s camp. After that it was a drive back up north and a couple well-deserved days of relaxation.
The rest of the summer was much of the same. Lemon participated in two combines at M&T Bank Stadium and one in Philadelphia. He went to camps at Maryland, Richmond and Delaware. A couple weeks after their southern road trip, Lemon and Asbury headed north for camps at Connecticut and Syracuse.
All told, Lemon and Asbury logged more than 4,600 miles, pushing the Malibu over 100,000 miles. Along the way, the duo bonded over football, recruiting and Lemon’s future.
“It brought us closer, especially all the time in the car we had with each other,” Lemon said. “... After each camp we would talk about college, but then the conversation would be about anything really, trying to keep my focus off of college and trying to have fun since it was the summer. ... [Going on trips with him] means a lot, just showing how much time he put into me.”
With the summer finally drawing to a close, Lemon held offers from Syracuse and Delaware, and felt confident scholarships from Vanderbilt, James Madison and Richmond would soon be on the way.
At nearly every place he visited, coaches told Lemon to be patient. The offers would come during the season, they said. But with two-a-days approaching, Lemon thought back to all the positives at Syracuse. He liked the campus and was impressed with the dorms. SU had his major of choice -- mechanical engineering. And Lemon felt wanted by Orange head coach Greg Robinson and his recruiting coach, Randy Trivers.
So he sat down with his family and made the decision. His parents, who are considering purchasing season tickets, were completely supportive and pleased with their son’s choice. For the Lemon-Asbury family, it was a summer well spent.
“[At times I was] just overwhelmed with everything. I was basically playing for my future, for a scholarship, at every event,” Lemon said. “[Committing to Syracuse] was just a relief. It felt like what I did paid off.”
Click on the YouTube player for Lemon’s junior highlights.
Photo of Alec Lemon during 4A state championship game by Colby Ware / Special to The Sun / December 7, 2007