Yulee earns MaxPreps honor

Published 10:42 pm Saturday, January 11, 2014

Lakeland High School sophomore Jaquan Yulee continues to gain national recognition for his role on the gridiron as a linebacker.

On the final day of 2013, he made First Team Defense on the MaxPreps 2013 Football Sophomore All-American Teams. MaxPreps is a CBSSports.com website that provides national high school sports coverage.



Cavaliers head coach Bryan Potts lent perspective to Yulee’s selection for this honor.

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“It’s a very big deal,” he said. “They did choose from a national panel of high school football players around the country, private school, as well as public school.”

Understanding the field he was selected from to receive the honor, Yulee said, “It means a lot to me.”

Scout.com already lists Yulee as one of the nation’s top middle linebacker college recruiting prospects for the class of 2016.

Potts was excited when he learned of the first team MaxPreps selection.

“I was proud for him,” Potts said. “I was happy that he got the recognition. I thought he should have been (Group 4A South) first team all-region, as well, so for him to make first team All-American for the MaxPreps (teams), it was huge.”

Yulee gave his take on why he has accumulated so many accolades as an underclassman in high school.

“People have been watching me play around, and they just be like, ‘That dude’s got potential,’ and I just try not to let them down,” he said.

In his freshman year, Yulee had 95 tackles, 10 sacks and an interception, and he was selected to the all-district and all-region second teams.

This year his numbers dipped a bit, but Potts expected the change now that teams were aware of him.

“Despite the fact that a lot of teams keyed on him, he was able to continue to do great things,” Potts said. “Ninety-eight percent of the time, he’d get a double team in some form or fashion from the offense.”

Yulee also battled a high ankle sprain part of the year and played in two fewer games, since Lakeland did not make the playoffs. Still, he registered 70 tackles, 55 of them solo, three sacks and one fumble recovery and was named first team all-conference and second team all-region.

MaxPreps writer and national football editor Stephen Spiewak explained in an email what it was about Yulee that caused him to select the Suffolk youth to the first team.

“To start, he has extremely impressive size for a tenth-grader, and he’s already on the recruiting radar,” Spiewak wrote. “But as a high school football player, it was impressive to see him on the all-region team last year as a freshman, something that’s very uncommon for ninth-graders, especially at a physical position like linebacker.”

And he noted Yulee has consistently put his physicality to good use.

“Seeing that he was equally productive this year and recognizing his potential, he was pretty much a no-brainer,” Spiewak stated. “Early on, I think he looks like one of the top players at his position nationally, and he’s backed it up on the field.”

Potts moved Yulee to a new position this year, from outside to middle linebacker.

“I didn’t want to limit him to just one side of the field,” Potts said. “I think he was very effective in the middle.”

The coach gave his perspective on why Yulee is so highly touted.

“To be so young and to make the plays that he’s making, normally you don’t see that out of young guys at his position,” Potts said. “He’s a game-changer.”

He said Yulee has a big play capability, and “that impresses a lot of Division I coaches.”

He has drawn interest from a growing list of D-1 programs, including Clemson University, University of Michigan, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Temple University, East Carolina University, University of Maryland, University of North Carolina, Old Dominion University, Hampton University and Morgan State University.

Yulee explained what national recognition like the MaxPreps honor does for him as he looks at the rest of his high school career.

“It just makes me want to work harder and hopefully get all-state next year,” he said.