Strong commits to Arkansas State

Chase Glover Sports Editor [email protected]

Muscle Shoals High School three-star safety, Javar Strong, recently committed to the Arkansas State Red Wolves. Strong, a senior native from Cherokee, Ala., signed his letter of intent on Dec. 18, 2019, along with teammates Logan Smothers and Jackson Bratton. 

Strong’s recruitment process began last spring and only gained traction throughout the summer and fall. Memphis, Nebraska, Western Kentucky, Tennessee Tech and Notre Dame are some of the teams chasing after the young man.

“I do this for my mom and dad,” Strong said. “My dad gave me my mentality to be the best and never let anyone outwork me, on and off the field. All this goes out to my mom, I would do anything for her. This helps my whole family, not having to pay for college, it takes a lot of stress off of them.”

Many out-of-state teams sought out Strong, his biggest he says being Notre Dame. Strong took many visits throughout his recruitment process, making a tough choice for where he would ultimately land. His first offer came from Nebraska, where his teammate, Smothers, chose to commit.

“My first offer came from Nebraska,” Strong said. “After that, I had like five more offers come in at once, and I was like ‘Woah, this is crazy,’ I still have coaches texting me to this day, trying to make me flip my commitment to them and leave Arkansas State. There is no way, I was thinking.”

The biggest school that made a run for Strong, Notre Dame, wanted him to wait until the National Signing Day. They were seeking out players and figuring out scholarships to give to players. The Fighting Irish pegged Strong on their recruitment board, but he could not wait on his commitment.

“I couldn’t wait,” Strong said. “Other schools, including [Arkansas] State, would have pulled my offers. I could not wait on Notre Dame [for NSD] and [hope] that they offer me after I lose my other scholarships that I had.”

As an athlete commits to a college, they need to stay in constant contact with the coaching staff and players. This also goes for the coaching staff, which Strong says became one of his big three factors of why he chose them.

“They would send my parents inspirational quotes and text my parents every single day,” Strong said. “They would stay on me every single day, facetime calls, texting, everything. They came to my games and practices. Not one other coach came to my practice, as soon as I saw that, it had me ready [to commit].”

During the summer Strong attended a junior day at Arkansas State. At junior days college programs select some of the top juniors around the country and brings them in for camps and evaluations. This helps the coaches evaluate players they would like to recruit more or notice guys they have not seen perform on a big stage.

“I went on a Big Pack, basically a junior day, this summer,” Strong said. “I am a very picky person but I knew. I told my mom that day that I wanted to commit [to Arkansas State]. She talked me down and asked for me to wait. Deep down I knew though that I was going to Arkansas State.”

Strong is one of three big Division-I commits from Muscle Shoals High School. Former senior standouts Smothers and Bratton also made commitments to big time schools in Nebraska [Smothers] and Alabama [Bratton]. Strong, unlike his teammates, is a three-star recruit while both of are four-star prospects. All three signed their LOI on the same day in December.

“Getting to say I got to compete and play with an Alabama and Nebraska commit, that means a lot,” Strong said. “We grew a special bond, we weren’t playing to play, we love each other. We are brothers now. I can honestly say that we do love each other.”

Strong made big strides in his high school career, as he did not take the field until his junior year. After a strong summer showing heading into his senior year, he got the starting job to open the fall and lead the Trojans into the playoffs back-to-back years.

“I didn’t understand the plays well enough,” Strong said. “I didn’t understand exactly what I was doing [on the field]. I started since the beginning of the season, I worked so hard and I wanted the starting position.”

His willingness to overcome difficulties such as injuries and not starting led Strong to this point in his career. This dedication ultimately earned him a scholarship to pursue his athletic career and also pursue higher education at the Arkansas State University. This opportunity impacts more than just him as this scholarships bleeds into his family; another huge reason for his commitment.

“My brother was able to receive a partial walk-on,” Strong said. “Arkansas State gave him the opportunity and now my parents can come to one game, instead of having to travel to two different ones. The scholarships also help me because I don’t know if football is what I’m going to do forever, but I also get to pursue an education.”

Strong sought out opportunities to play at the next level and that is exactly what head coach Blake Anderson and the Red Wolves are willing to get him. Four of their six safeties for the Red Wolves are juniors and seniors, only leaving one sophomore and freshman. This gives Strong a slot to potentially see playing time in the 2020 season.

“I see myself starting,” Strong said. “If I can get to 200 [pounds], which I am 185 now, I see myself starting on the defense definitely. If I don’t start right away, I think I can get a lot of playing time. My coaches told me that they need guys to play now and not to wait. That was another big reason I chose them. If I can put the weight on, I have guaranteed playing time.”

Strong has extreme confidence in himself and his abilities on the football field. After four years at the collegiate level, he hopes to make the jump to the National Football League. If that does not work for him, his other career interests include real estate.

“I see myself going to the NFL definitely,” Strong said. “Hopefully I’ll play out one contract, and if that doesn’t happen, I see myself taking out a loan and buying houses. I’ll fix those up and then flip them to start my new career.”

Strong ends his high school campaign with two playoff losses to a strong Pinson Valley team in back-to-back years. Along with Bratton and Smothers, he walks out with close to 30 other seniors leaving the program. 

“Our future is bright,” Strong said. “Keep working, keep being the men that you are and everything will fall into place for us.”

Strong ends his decorative career with memorable wins and losses surrounding him, as well as teammates and coaches that will impact his future life forever. He now starts his next journey with his brother and family close by his side to Arkansas State. His first game will be at Memphis on Saturday, Sept. 5.