There is a cause for celebration among a certain group of south Orange County friends. And this time when the quartet gets together, there will have to be new reasons to brag and chide each other.
The close friends of Orlando Freedom LB Justin North can no longer make fun of him for not having an NCAA Division I-A football scholarship offer.
Oh sure, his buddies and teammates WR Jeff Badet and lineman Kevin Maurice, as well as best friend and Orlando Cypress Creek DE Malik Smith will think of other reasons to trash talk among themselves. North, however, is finally on the board after receiving a D1 scholarship offer from Bowling Green on Wednesday night.
“It’s a big stress reliever and I expect a lot more,” North said. “That one is just to get me rolling, but I’ll be looking into Bowling Green … gaining knowledge.
“But we will always make fun.”
North, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker who played defensive end previously, joins the D1 Club with his first tender, while Badet has six offers from Boston College, Bowling Green, FIU, Louisville, Marshall and Memphis; Maurice has FAU, Boston College and Memphis; and Smith has one offer from Indiana.
“I’ll always be thankful for that first offer,” North said. “But I’d love to get one from an ACC or SEC or Big East school. I’m excited about the Bowling Green offer, but I think I have enough talent to play SEC or ACC or Big East and I want to stay on the East Coast.”
He wouldn’t mind staying in Florida, but an offer from one of the state’s Big Three looks highly unlikely.
“It would be nice but that probably won’t happen unless I get an offer from UCF or USF,” North said. “With UCF, I’d feel basically at home if I played there and could always come home on weekends and stuff. I like the coaches over there. I like coach Beckton (receivers coach Sean Beckton) . He seems like a nice guy. I talked to him at the 7-on-7 and the other day and he said he’d take a good look at me and evaluate me there.”
As for USF, he hasn’t heard from the Bulls’ staff.
“I’m not really getting recruited by them at this point, but I would like to be,” North said.
What has baffled North a little bit is the same thing that confuses many other players. One of the first questions asked by recruiters is how many Division I-A offers a player has. When the answer is zero, that is usually also the number of times the player hears back from the recruiter.
“Schools have actually turned me down since I didn’t have any offers,” North said. “Sometimes they actually ask me if I have any offers and I say no then they never contact me back. It basically seems like some of them just recruit off what offers you have.
“But since I have one now, that should bring them back to start recruiting me harder. I already have the size and the talent … and actual footage of me playing linebacker.”
North has a few trips lined up this summer to help promote his skills. He’s going to a Temple camp next month and also said, “I would like to go to Louisville and Rutgers and some state camps. I’d like to go to Georgia Tech. They want me to come to camps.”
North, whose father Wilbur North played running back at Florida A&M, should have no issues with qualifying scores and carries about a 3.3 GPA into his senior year, he said.
“My parents, they feel like I have accomplished something but they also know I haven’t reached my full potential yet,” North said. “They are very supportive and I’m thankful for everything they have done, as well as Coach Johnson (Freedom coach Andy Johnson) and everything he has done for me. They are proud of me.”
As for the D1 Club, they will always find angles from which to poke.
“I’ve known all of them since middle school days,” North said. “We’ll always find ways to make fun of each other.”
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