Justin Herron planned on being the next basketball star in his family growing up, aspiring to follow in the footsteps of his father, Reggie, and uncles Larry and Keith Herron – all three of whom starred for Villanova’s basketball team in the 1970’s.
But by the time Justin Herron enrolled at Bullis as a ninth grader three years ago, he had already come under the tutelage of the first-year football Coach Pat Cilento, who helped convince the young athlete to focus on football – which he had never played. In Herron, Cilento saw not only saw a future centerpiece on his offensive and defensive lines in the three or four years to come – but also a raw, 6-foot-4 athlete who had all the genes and potential to be a prized college recruit.
“Justin being 6-4 as a freshman, and not really knowing, you know, couldn’t even get out of his own way,” Cilento said. “Now he’s a dominant player on both sides of the ball. I mean he stuffs the run and he can move for as big as he is…he’s basically turned into a star on the football field.”
Now 6-5 and 275 pounds, Herron is still playing basketball (he appeared in eight games for Bullis this winter) but his football recruiting stock gained traction after a solid junior campaign in which he was a key contributor to Bullis’ explosive offense. Herron received his first scholarship offer from Villanova following his freshman season, but now has plenty of other suitors. Maryland, Michigan and Michigan State have all inquired about Herron, and in recent months, Boston College, Duke and Wake Forest have intensified the interest, he said. Herron visited Wake Forest last week, and has paid unofficial visits to Duke, Boston College and Villanova recently, he said.
“I think more offers will come in, but you know, I’m not really sulking,” Herron said. “I’m just thinking about getting better, and seeing what I can do to help my team win this year.”
Herron is being recruited primarily as an offensive tackle, and Cilento is expecting big things next fall in the run game (he also has talented running back Devonte Williams at his disposal).
But Herron has also been a key contributor on the interior defensive line the last couple seasons. He started exclusively at defensive tackle as a sophomore, before playing both sides of the ball as a junior. He is an authentic two-way player, and Herron remains a player committed to fine tuning his footwork and technique as college approaches. For a player with just three years of football under his belt, he’s quickly gaining ground.
“I just went straight forward with football and worked hard at it,” Herron said. “I feel like I came into my own my junior year.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 24
The number of goals Severn School’s Ryan Lamon has through five lacrosse games this spring, which is tied with Sidwell Friends’ Jack Sollee for the area lead in scoring. Lamon scored seven times in Wednesday night’s 15-5 win over Annapolis, and Severn School was ranked seventh in the first boys lacrosse rankings of the season Wednesday.
– Former DeMatha star Victor Oladipo will return to Washington Thursday night when his Indiana Hoosiers take on Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 at the Verizon Center. On Wednesday, the Post’s Rick Maese and Brandon Parker examined the man and myth of the Hoosiers’ star. More on Oladipo’s past can be found here.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
No. 9 Severn School vs. No. 5 Severna Park, 7:30 p.m. at Anne Arundel Community College
Severna Park (1-0) arrives in the fifth spot in the first girls’ lacrosse rankings of the season after beating Old Mill 16-3 in its only appearance of the season – but will have a stiff test Thursday against rival Severn School (2-2), which has recovered from an 0-2 start to the season.