As a rising sophomore, Damascus wide receiver/cornerback Jalen Christian won’t be eligible to sign a national letter of intent for more than two years, but he has already begun getting familiar with the recruiting process.
Christian picked up a scholarship offer from South Carolina about two months after his freshman season ended and has added four more major conference scholarship offers. He made unofficial visits to two of those schools last week, checking out preseason practice at Ohio State on Wednesday and West Virginia on Thursday with his mother, Vonetta, and teammate Rashard Budd, a rising senior defensive tackle.
“Those guys [in college] have been through the same [recruiting] process, and I want to be on that stage some day, too — God willing,” said Christian, who also has official offers from Oklahoma and North Carolina State. “I wanted to see how their practices are run and all that. When I was in the meetings, I could picture myself doing that one day.”
Besides a one-day camp at the University of Maryland and team camp at Shepherd University earlier this month, Christian — a 5-foot-9, 160-pounder who also returns kickoffs and punts — has spent most of the past two months training at Damascus. Early in the summer, he targeted the final days before the season as a window to start looking at colleges.
“He’s got a lot of time between now and when he’s a senior to make a decision, but he had some free time here this week, and we encouraged him to take advantage of it,” Damascus assistant coach Gregg Frazier said. “You want to start seeing if maybe somebody is going to be a factor or if you can scratch them off your list already, so you’re not scrambling at the end to go visit a bunch of places.”
Christian, who will team with Virginia recruit Zach Bradshaw on one of the area’s most dangerous receiving tandems, has interest from top programs across the country and should add to his list of suitors, but he doesn’t plan on thinking much about his future now that preseason practices have begun. He said he will wait until the offseason to look into more unofficial visits.
Christian — who started on both sides of the ball down the stretch last fall for the Hornets — won’t worry about impressing recruiters or adding to his impressive highlight tape. He has bigger motivation.
“They still treat me as a rookie,” Christian said of his teammates. “You’ve still got to fight every day to prove to them that you’re worthy, that they can trust you and count on you. Yeah, they still call me ‘rookie.’”