On March 17th, Justus Woods walked into school wearing a long-sleeved gray shirt with a signature red block letter logo on the chest. A lanyard, also doting the world-renowned emblem, hung from his pocket. For the first time, Justus enjoyed college spirit day by supporting his future school: Stanford University.
To understand where his dream began, we must rewind to when Justus was only eight years old. Along with his older sister, he travelled to Stanford to participate in an academic camp. During the visit, he fell in love with campus. At the university’s bookstore, an Andrew Luck jersey caught his eye and he picked it up.
“I knew right then that Stanford was the place for me,” Justus says.
Throughout high school, he benefited from good contact with the Stanford athletic program. The head coach at Charlotte Christian, Jason Estep, is very familiar with the school because one of his former players, Brian Chaffin, plays center there.
Even though Justus is one of the most well-rounded students, excellent in both the classroom and on the field, Stanford did not contact him first. His strong desire to play for their team motivated him to reach out to the coaching staff. Because of this, he doubted whether the dream could become reality.
Coach Lance Taylor (former Stanford running back coach) informed Justus that the coaches would contact him regarding their intentions on signing day. After dreaming of this moment for years, it all came down to one quickly approaching day.
Sticking to their word, the phone rang in the middle of AP Language requesting Justus Woods to report to Coach Estep’s office. The relatively short walk from class felt longer than ever. Justus had been called out of class many times for football, but this was the call he waited years for.
When he walked into the office, Coach Estep informed him that Stanford was on the phone. Instantly, he knew it meant one of two things: either they were offering him or someone else. It was the former and better of the two, and Justus finally received the offer he dreamed of for over half his life.
In his mind, Stanford topped the list. But, before locking down, Justus flew to Palo Alto once again to confirm that it is the best school for his future. When he arrived on campus, he was blown away. No matter how many times he makes the trip, Stanford never fails to leave him speechless. The coaches are knowledgeable, promote togetherness, and are driven to help their athletes become the best. As he boarded the plane back to Charlotte, he no longer questioned which school he should commit to.
With no doubt in his mind as to where he wants to attend university, Justus ended his recruitment. On March 16, 2017, Justus announced his commitment to further his academic and athletic career at Stanford University. Now, he can enjoy his senior year and last season of high school football without any stress.
“It feels reassuring to know where I will be going to school,” he says.
Stanford offers the best of both worlds in academics and athletics, which elevated it over other programs. Their football team is among the best in the nation and Justus fits well in their ground and pound style of offense. Stanford is also one of the top schools for academics. The professors help transform students into world changers, which Justus strives to be.
“If you’re a student athlete, I don’t know why it wouldn’t be the goal for you to go there,” he says.
Now that his recruitment process is over, Justus is focused on becoming a better player, student, and man. Some people would become complacent and coast through senior year, but not Justus. He knows there are always aspects needing improvement, and he plans to spend the next year working to better himself.
For as long as he can remember, Justus has dreamed of playing college football and he could not be more excited to receive the opportunity to achieve that dream. Admittedly, the idea of moving across the nation at eighteen years old makes him nervous. However, when he settles down and thinks about all that is to come, his nerves calm.
Justus knows he will not be alone in California. He will be with his second family: the Stanford football team.