Strong work ethic drives WR prospect
BROOKSVILLE, Fla. -- Nature Coast Technical High has never been a must-stop for college football recruiters. Not until this year, that is.[+] EnlargeGerry HamiltonJaJuan Story is a physically gifted wideout.
Receiver Ja'Juan Story is quickly becoming one of the most heavily recruited juniors in the country.
The 6-foot-3, 192-pounder has ideal measurables and his skill set -- including a 4.5 40-yard dash time -- is just as impressive.
Story is very good at high-pointing the ball, timing his routes, running in the open field and releasing against press coverage. However, his top skill is his work ethic off the field, according to Rudy Story, his uncle and legal guardian and a Nature Coast Technical assistant coach.
"As a player, he's an excellent student of the game," said Rudy Story, who played outside linebacker at the University of Minnesota. "He loves to watch film. His work ethic is pretty good, and I think those are his two biggest strengths. I tell him everywhere you go, people are going to have talent, but it's whoever works the hardest, and he seems to be buying into that. As long as he keeps buying into that, I'm pretty happy. Academically, he's realizing that he has to have that same effort in the classroom that he does on the football field."
Story played somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades role for the Sharks as a junior, catching 13 passes for 423 yards and rushing for 265 yards on 27 carries mostly from the Wildcat position. On defense, he had more than 20 tackles at safety.
"My strengths are my attitude, my hard work and my willingness to do what coaches tell me to," Story said. "I'm coachable."
His immense talent, combined with his love for the game, has resulted in offers from around the country.
"Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Kentucky, Iowa State, FSU, USF, Rutgers, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio State, North Carolina, Marshall, FIU, Louisville, Michigan and Georgia Tech have offered me," Story said. "Texas Tech, Florida and Penn State are talking to me."
Story lists Florida State assistants D.J. Eliot and Lawrence Dawsey, plus Rutgers assistant P.J. Fleck, as the most impressive coaches he has spoken with. He made junior day visits to Florida State and South Florida. Though impressed, he is taking things slow.
"We went to Florida State's junior day, and USF's. Both of them were great. I have only visited those two schools. Once I visit more schools and see my opportunities, I'll have a list of five to consider. It doesn't matter if it's close to home or far away as long as they treat me like family. Academics, playing time, the coaches' feeling like family are big for me."
With offers from programs that feature a spread scheme, traditional offense and the triple-option of Georgia Tech, picking the correct scheme to fit a skill set can be challenging. For Rudy Story, it's about trust and the ability to fit in any scheme.
"I think any school that Ja'Juan goes to, they will use him properly," he said. "Coaches are wise, and they will definitely get the best out of his talent. I'll be happy no matter what type of offense they run. If he went to an offense like Georgia Tech, they would use him and he would get one-on-one opportunities and be a blocker. If he went to a spread team like Texas Tech or somewhere, that would be good for him, too."
Along with an unofficial visit tour this spring, Story is competing in track for the first time. Soft-spoken and humble, the long-armed junior isn't getting ahead of himself wearing the spikes, even though his track coaches expect big things.
"I'm running the [100-meter dash], 200 and 4x100," Story said. "Once we get on a good track, I'm going to say I'll run a 10.8 or 10.7. This is my first year running track, so hopefully I'll run under 22.0 in the 200 meters."
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