Even before playing a down of football at Pierce College, Jaelen Strong was already attracting…
Strong Making an Impression
Los Angeles (Calif.) Pierce College freshman wide receiver Jaelen Strong may not be a name recruitniks are familiar with quite yet, but according to the Brahmas head coach Efrain Martinez, Strong has the potential to be the nation's top rated Juco prospect next year. Strong acknowledges that his time at Pierce hasn't always been easy. "It's been a rough experience. Juco life isn't fun. At the same time you realize that this is really what you want to do, so you have to make sacrifices," he said. The coaches decided to grayshirt the 6-foot-3, 205-pound receiver last season, and time off the field gave Strong a new perspective. "It was a learning experience. It humbled me a little bit. I came out of high school, All-State coming out here and having to sit out a year, you know, it hurts. But at the same time you've got to figure out where you want to be. I feel like this is all just based off me working hard in the off-season. I had to come back stronger than I did in high school, so for me, it was all just working hard. When Strong graduated from Philadelphia (Penn.) West Philadelphia Catholic in 2011, he held offers from Villanova, Virginia Military Institute, and Eastern Michigan. Since coming to Pierce and having a strong freshman season, Strong has picked up quite the collection of offers. "Recruiting has been really fun. Coming out of high school, I didn't think I would get any offers as big as I have now. Everything is a reward for what I've been doing, so if I want to keep being rewarded, I have to keep working hard. It doesn't stop here; it carries on through Division-1 football and all the way to the NFL. I have offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, Nebraska, Miami, North Carolina State, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Cincinnati, and Washington, a lot of good schools," he said. A few of those programs have caught Strong's eye. "I'm excited about every offer that I receive, but the ones that have really stood out to me are Oregon State, Arizona State, Tennessee, and Mississippi State. Those right there are probably my top right now. Mississippi State has definitely impressed me this year, playing in the SEC and going undefeated up until they played Alabama, but that's Alabama. Arizona State has impressed me, too. They have a very dynamic offense. Those schools have shown me a lot this season," he said. He's still hearing from a number of programs, including Texas A&M, Alabama, and USC, saying that an offer from the Trojans would be "like a dream come true." "It's really exciting," he said of the number of offers he's picked up this season. "It just makes me want to work harder and harder every day. I just can't get complacent. Just coming out here really humbled me a lot. I see a lot of guys out here that are exactly like me, just as fast and as big and as strong. I have to work harder than them so I can be that much better." Though not always easy, Strong has settled in well at Pierce and knows a few things he's looking for when choosing his next school. "I'm looking for a place that will treat me like family. The name of the school doesn't really mean much to me. I look at everything; first off, will I be able to adjust as easily as I did coming to Pierce, will they treat me like family, will I be okay. After that, then things like who is their quarterback, what is their offense like. I feel like I could adjust to any offense; a fast-paced offense is probably my favorite type of offense, but I could play pro-style, as well. It's just about where I fit in, how I adjust," he said. Strong, who is on track to graduate in December 2013, will likely redshirt next season in order to have three years to play Division-1 ball at a program that will hopefully help his attain his dream. "I've always, always dreamt about playing in the NFL. It has been my dream since I was young," he said.
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