Home Around the State A TE to Watch – Justin Stephens

A TE to Watch – Justin Stephens


Watched the OHSAA State Football Championship game last fall. Watched Dunbar play Trotwood last winter on the basketball court. Justin Stephens, a very athletic, 6’6-235 junior played well in both games.

Talked with Justin last Saturday and was more impressed. Laid back. Articulate. Sharp. He made a very good first impression on me and I would guess the Toledo coaching staff.

For a long time , he thought basketball was his way to college. Played junior high football, but did not play football his 9th and 10th grade years. Focus was on basketball.  6’6-235 and can run the court – why not?

But first,  what really impressed me last Saturday was his thoughts on AAU basketball. Asked him about AAU basketball. He said that he was playing this summer, because he wanted to finish his AAU career with some of the guys that he has played with forever. Just wanted to finish with them. Football has become as or maybe more important.

Some of the football coaches convinced Justin to give football one more try. He wanted to play tight end, not defensive end. A position that he played in junior high. After a lot of thought – Tight end – it was.

Last fall, Trotwood completed the season undefeated. OHSAA state champs. One of the contributors to that success was tight end Justin Stephens, all 6’6-235 who made some athletic catches  as well as blocked for Raveon Hargrove.

Like Justin’s tight end skills. Needs to improve his burst in his release off the LOS, but he has good initial quickness. He has good body control and catches the ball with his hands away from his body. Makes good adjustments to the ball. Catches in a crowd. Good concentration and speed to catch balls on deep patterns. Can make catches from the slot position. Needs to a stronger runner after the catch.

Improved over the season as a blocker. Remember – no football his 9th and 10th grade years. Blocked well in the State Championship against Tri-Valley HS. Gets into the defender and does a good job staying with block. Good base. Will need to more of a pad under pad blocker. Blocks in open space. Understands how and has tools to block. Get bigger/stronger. Effort his there!

Nothing but good words from his head coach, Jeff Graham. “Works out in mornings at 6AM. Good character kid. Good grades. Good person.”

The ceiling is very high for Justin. Of course, he has to keep getting stronger and stronger. Like his ball catching skills. Like his running ability. Like his athleticism. Like his desire to get better. Like his ability to carry on a good conversation. Like his work in the classroom.

Today, he may not the best tight end in Ohio. But he is the best tight end recruit in the Ohio Class of 2019. His ceiling his high and his attitude is just as high. Plus, he plays in an excellent football program.

And , no, he is not a 5Star. But does that really matter? McCallister rates him.



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