Friday, January 18, 2013
Goose Creek linebacker Jalen Stevens had options closer to home but he saw a distant opportunity as a better fit.
The senior all-star linebacker committed to UConn on Friday, choosing the Huskies over North Carolina, Southern Miss, Appalachian State and Georgia State.
“It was all based off getting my degree first and playing time,” Stevens said. “Education is first. You can't play football forever. If I'm not able to go pro, then I'll always have a degree from UConn. That's going to look good on a resume.”
Stevens (6-3, 216) finished the season with 147 total tackles, seven sacks and eight quarterback pressures for the Gators.
“(UConn coaches) treated me like I was a (Jadaveon) Clowney at South Carolina,” he said. “They were on me every week checking to see how I was doing.”
The move to Connecticut takes him 14 hours away from his current home but it sets him up about two hours from his father and that side of the family in Bronx, N.Y.
“I have to leave my mom but you've got to grow up and be a man some time,” he said.
The Huskies posted a 5-7 record this past season for the second year in a row, but did have a notable victory over Louisville, which went on to defeat Florida in the Sugar Bowl earlier this month. They last won the Big East Conference in 2010, advancing to the Fiesta Bowl.
“They want me to work on my vertical, get more explosive and get my upper body stronger,” Stevens said. “They see a lot of potential. They know I can play football. I can get to the quarterback and drop back into coverage.”
He had a season-high 18 total tackles during Goose Creek's 56-6 homecoming victory over Carolina Forest in October and finished the season in the North-South All-Star game.
He is the fourth Gators senior to etch in stone a Div. I future. Wide receiver/running back Tramel Terry (Georgia), Gerald Turner (South Carolina) and Mike Myers (East Carolina) are the other three.
Terry enrolled at Georgia earlier this month.