The football coach remembers when Jaevon McQuitty first showed up at the new school, tall and skinny with long arms, large hands and feet that now fit in a pair of size 15s. The wide receiver from Columbia, Missouri, had the look, but that's nothing without determination.
Coach Justin Conyers caught sight of that soon enough, too.
Addicted to studying the route-running techniques of NFLers Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald on YouTube, McQuitty was about to produce game clips that would have Nebraska coaches moving swiftly in building a relationship with the recruit from that old Big Eight town.
He had almost 700 yards receiving as a sophomore. Followed that with 1,038 yards as a junior. Followed that with a commitment to the Huskers last Saturday.
"He's going to have records that are going to withstand at Battle High School for quite a while," Conyers said. "Because it's going to take a dynamic guy to come in and start for four years like Jaevon has been able to do."
The high school just opened in 2013 when McQuitty was a freshman. It played football that first year but without any seniors or playoff eligibility. Even so, Conyers’ team still finished 5-4. The last minute of a game against a new rival comes to Conyers' mind. His freshman quarterback threw a game-winning touchdown pass to his freshman receiver, McQuitty.
Right after it happened, Conyers told the other coaches on the headset, “I think we're going to have a lot more of that to come in the future.”
Accurate prediction. The next year, the program won the Class 5 state championship in Missouri. Last year, it reached the semifinals. McQuitty kept getting better and bigger, now about 6-foot-2, 190 pounds.
Measurements don't tell all, Conyers is sure. "He looks and he plays much bigger than that."
He looked good enough to Nebraska coaches that they offered him a scholarship in April, the first school on his porch. It's a moment McQuitty detailed well last fall in an interview with the Columbia Daily Tribune. The prospect recalled Nebraska wide receivers coach Keith Williams telling him, “Just call me and say yes.”
Wait, come again? “I didn’t know what he meant by that, and my mom said, ‘Does he have an offer?’ He was like, ‘Yeah.’ My heart just dropped. I just fell on the wall.”
Eleven months later, McQuitty said yes. A four-star receiver, according to Rivals.com, and the second highest-rated player in Missouri, was on board.
It gave the Huskers a receiver recruit to join signees of the past two classes that included Stanley Morgan and Lavan Alston from 2015, and from the most-recent class, record-setting receiver Derrion Grim from California, and JD Spielman, Minnesota's Gatorade player of the year.
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"It's on the up and coming," Conyers, a neutral observer, said of Husker wide receiver recruiting.
Perhaps more is coming as soon as Wednesday, when wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson Jr. will announce his college choice. It’s a popular belief the Huskers are on the brink of hearing good news from the prospect from Calabasas, California, the son of the former NFL star of the same name.
“For them to hit on a guy that has the opportunities he has, get him to come to campus so often, and win this recruiting battle, would be a big one for Nebraska,” said Steve Wiltfong, national recruiting director for 247Sports. “You add him to McQuitty and you're off to a nice start at the position.”
It'd be big on a few levels, really.
1) The 6-1, 195-pound Johnson is ranked No. 220 nationally among all players, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
2) Perception. The recruit brings name recognition and he has said his final five schools include Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson and USC, the alma mater of his father, who was coached there by an offensive coordinator named Mike Riley. The Huskers, who have pushed as hard as anyone for Johnson, have been visited six times by the receiver.
3) Johnson would seem to have high value as a peer recruiter for whatever school he chooses.
“He's an engaging guy, who looks like one of the favorite parts of the process is building relationships on the recruiting trail with others who are going through what he's going through," Wiltfong said. "There's no question he could be a guy that could help kids continue to look at Nebraska.”
Johnson and McQuitty already have formed a connection, something that would not come as a surprise to Conyers.
McQuitty has his own knack for drawing people in, according to the coach.
"That's what is important to know about Jaevon, is what he does in our school and what he does in our community," Conyers said. "Last week he was over reading at the elementary school and the kids just love him. Just his personality is contagious. He's always in a great mood. He's always got a big smile on his face."
Husker fans caught a look at it last week when McQuitty tweeted a picture of him after committing, standing in front of Nebraska's national championship trophies, next to Riley, the coach's arm around the recruit.
It's impossible to gauge by the smiles in that photo who was happier right then: the person who just delivered the good news or the coach who just heard it.