At 9 years old, he weighed in at 145 pounds at a doctor’s appointment. He grew out of shoes every six months and reached size 12 at age 12.
From 14 years old on, he worked out and bulked up. Then people at church would get a look at him.
“Guys at church and people here and there always be
asking if I play ball,” Averette said. “They’d be kind of disappointed when I said no.”
Averette finally took the hint and took up organized football a year ago. Now that college recruiters are catching on to this 6-21/2, 257-pound senior from tiny Jacksonville Christian Academy who can run a 5.0-second 40-yard dash, they’re dropping hints.
The college looks are coming from Jacksonville State, Samford, Wofford and others. No scholarship offers yet, but then Averette has only played one season of organized football plus camps at JSU and Vanderbilt.
One of few starters back from JCA’s first playoff team, Averette will stand out on film this season. JCA coach Tommy Miller is moving him from nose guard to middle linebacker because, well, Averette is big and fast.
“In the our spring game, we had a back that broke 60, 70 yards out, and Jon ran him down from behind,” Miller said. “I thought then we might want to look at him and see if he can play at linebacker, because that’s a position we have trouble with any way.”
When the big-and-fast kid makes plays from sideline to sideline and down field, more and more recruiters are bound to ask, where has this kid been?
Here and there.
He considered playing parks-and-recreation ball as a youth, but that pesky weight-limit thing kept getting in the way.
He lived in Tennessee for a time then moved back to Jacksonville, where he home-schooled. Then the thought occurred during what would be his sophomore year in high school that he might want to get serious about football.
There could be a scholarship in it.
“About the end of 2009, I decided that I was pretty interested in possibly playing college ball somewhere,” he said. “I definitely had the size for it.”
He had to make up for lost time by playing immediately and wasn’t sure how soon he’d get on the field at Class 4A Jacksonville High School, so he enrolled at JCA, a 1A school in January 2010.
He began offseason work and went to college camps that summer. Then he played his part as an offensive tackle and nose guard in helping JCA to its first playoff berth.
“He had an immediate impact on our team,” Miller said. “Number one, he’s big, and he’s smart. He wants to play and works hard, and he’s not slow.”
Averette ran his 5.0-second 40 dash a year ago at JSU’s camp, one of several camps in which he participated. He went to seven this summer.
Miller has sent out letters to several “smaller schools.” Wofford, which beat JSU in the 2010 Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, invited him to camp.
“This summer, the two that have mentioned to me that they are definitely looking at me are JSU and Samford,” Averette said. “I was a little surprised. I didn’t expect somebody like JSU or Samford to be interested in me at this point. I kind of figured I’d be shooting a little lower.
“Division II schools are interested in me. I just want to play ball somewhere.”
Academics won’t be a problem as Averette has already scored a 25 on the ACT.
Miller has coached at JCA for 23 years, dating back to the Thunder’s 8-man football days, and said he can’t remember the school having a football signee.
“Any time you have a kid sign a scholarship, it means a lot,” Miller said, “but to be as small as we are, to have somebody sign, especially if it was some place like JSU, it would mean a lot.”
Averette would love to be the first.
“It would definitely be an honor to be the first one from the school to go for a college scholarship,” he said. “That would be awesome.”
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.