Hart Sets the Standard

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PHOTO BY JOHN PYLE / FOR THE OBSERVER

Junior is first-ever Loachapoka athlete to receive Ivy League scholarship offer

By Wil Crews

sportscrews@
opelikaobserver

LOACHAPOKA —

From his quiet demeanor, ever-present poker face and school-branded basketball sweatshirt, you wouldn’t know Loachapoka rising senior Jacorious “J.C.” Hart is the school’s next big football prospect.

From the way he, his coaches and administrators talk about his interest, you may not know he plays football at all. College universities do, however.

Recently, Hart, a hopeful and entrepreneurial student by day, all-around athlete by night, picked up a football scholarship from Yale University.

It’s the first time, in fact, that any student-athlete from Loachapoka has received an athletics scholarship from an Ivy League school.

“J.C. is like the spearheaded leader of his class,” said Loachapoka head football coach Reco Newton. “Everybody just looks up to him and bonds to him.”

Yale was just the most recent offer, however; the 6-foot-2-inch, 175-pound, lengthy defensive back has drawn interest from fellow Ivy Leaguers Dartmouth and Penn, along with other programs such as UAB, Troy, Jacksonville State and more.

“We set a standard this year that we want to win a state championship, and J.C. is helping us deliver that vision and goal through his great leadership,” Newton said.

Hart’s efforts on the gridiron have solidified him as a household name within his community.

“I’ve been watching him since seventh grade,” Newton said. “I saw then what they were talking about as far as when he gets the ball, he scores with it. Ninth grade year I saw him develop more into a football player; 10th grade I saw him get bigger, faster, stronger; 11th grade year, now I’ve seen him come into his own, putting everything together.”

There is more than game-changing interceptions and electrifying plays to this up-and-coming star, however.

From a young age, Hart has excelled at everything he’s done. Before  Newton convinced Hart to join the football team in ninth grade, the bright-eyed teenager was more focused on his musical talents and academic success.

“He started out with me in sixth grade in band, and for the first two years [seventh and eighth grade], he was over here in band, and he was an outstanding performer,” said Loachapoka Band Director Shane Colquhoun. “His dad played division one football at Marshall. So we knew there was something there — you just couldn’t see. Then that summer, going into his ninth grade year, he said he wanted to give it a shot; literally that summer he transformed his body and jumped up.”

Throughout his growing commitment to football, Hart has remained focused on his schooling. He boasts a 4.2 GPA, which currently has him slotted to be the valedictorian of his class. He also enjoys reading, swimming and still makes time for his classical interest by taking music courses at school. 

“He’s very hardworking in the classroom, very hard worker in the weight room,” Newton said.

“Also, he is a great leader too. He has younger cousins that play here for us, and he talks to them and mentors them about academics and doing what is right in the community, things like that.

He’s overall a great leader.”

Hart said he doesn’t mind the attention that comes with collegiate scholarship offers; in fact, what motivates him the most is the people who look up to him.

“Being someone who other people look up to, I take pride in that,” he said. “Through football and academics.”

Hart said the recruitment process so far has been an easy adjustment. However, with his interest in business and entrepreneurialism, he is still trying to decide what he wants most from a school — keeping in mind aspects outside of the football program.

“I’ve been learning stuff, like how the financial system works and things like that,” he said. “The academics, location and the people around [are a priority].”

Regardless of where he ends up, those close to him at Loachapoka know he will continue to set standards.

“He’s a great kid and will literally be successful in anything he wants,” Colquhoun said. “Wherever he puts his mind, he’s going to get it.”

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