Photo by Sporting Image Photography

Photo by Sporting Image Photography

Andrew Carlson, 23 Sports

Football started out as a way to make a couple extra bucks on the side for Battle High School Senior Wide Receiver Jaevon McQuitty.

“[My dad] didn’t think I would be good, so he offered me five dollars for every touchdown I scored,” said McQuitty. “He got me busted cleats and everything, but he had to lower the money because I was getting four or five touchdowns a game.”

McQuitty, a unanimous four-star rated receiver who is headed to the University of Nebraska next year on scholarship claims money wasn’t the only motivation for him to get his start in football.

“In third grade I actually played a lot of Madden with my brother on the PlayStation two” said McQuitty. “Then one day he just asked me ‘Do you want to actually play football?’ and my mom took me to [Columbia Youth Football] on the last day of sign-ups.”

Through Columbia Youth Football, McQuitty not only settled into the position he would play for the rest of his football career, but formed a friendship that he would take beyond the football field as well in current Battle Quarterback Brevinn Tyler.

“At first I was playing running back, then they wanted me to play me at fullback and I wasn’t having that, and I didn’t want to do the blocking of a Tight End,” said McQuitty. “I switched to Wide Receiver and Brevinn threw me my first touchdown in fourth grade and it’s been that way ever since.”

While the connection on the field remains strong between him and Tyler during their senior year of high school, McQuitty made sure to add that Tyler was one of the people who pressed him hard to be great from the beginning.

“We pushed each other everyday,” said McQuitty. “We had fantasies and desires to be really good players and be the best in Missouri.”

A goal McQuitty can check off of his list being rated the best player in the state by ESPN, scouts were able to get a look at him early with his first varsity game coming in his freshman year.

“That summer [going into ninth grade] I worked and earned the starting job,” said McQuitty. “My first game was against South Callaway and I caught the game winning touchdown.”

Receiving playing time early on in his high school career, it was inevitable that colleges came knocking as soon as they were able to start offering as sanctioned by the NCAA.

“My first offer was from Nebraska on April 11th after my sophomore year right after our season,” said McQuitty. “After that I started getting offers from a lot of other schools.”

While receiving an offer from the hometown Missouri Tigers in arguably the conference with the highest level of competition in the country, McQuitty ended up choosing Nebraska from the Big Ten to fit his style of play.

“I figure to be more of a possession receiver in college,” McQuitty said. “The Big Ten or Big Twelve is for you if you’re more of skill guy.”

Nebraska, home to the thirteenth-largest football stadium in the country, is known for having a large and devoted fan base, something McQuitty says made his decision easy.

“It’s not all about the football aspect,” McQuitty said. “All of the fans genuinely love you and every game is sold out, even when they had their .500 season a couple years ago.”

While McQuitty was able to get the football scholarship offer he had been hoping for, many current high school athletes are faced with the possibility of not being able to go to college unless they’re able to get an offer.

McQuitty tweeted in August about a similar situation for himself: “If it wasn’t for football don’t think I would be going to college or would be able to afford it!”

“College is expensive and I’m not really the richest of the richest,” McQuitty said. “I just had to say that if god hadn’t given me this ability than I don’t know if there would be a way I could go.”

While scheduled to enroll early in the spring at Nebraska, athletes unable to go to school due to the lack of a scholarship hits home for McQuitty, and even closer to home with one of his best friends.

“Brevinn is just a baller, and I don’t understand [why he hasn’t gotten a scholarship],” said McQuitty. “It frustrates me, and I think he’s even better than me.”

While teams took notice of McQuitty at an early stage in his high school career, getting used to going through the process was an adjustment for him.

“Sometimes you get frustrated with a school talking to you for a long time and not offering you,” McQuitty said. “You have to realize you’re competing against everyone else in the country.”

Going out of state for college next year, McQuitty, while excited for the new chapter, will not forget how Mid-Missouri and the people shaped him as a person.

“The friendliness,” McQuitty said right away. “Something you may not get in another big city, but in Columbia the majority of the people know each other.

McQuitty, who was named homecoming king at Battle High School this past year and is a crowd favorite in Columbia, wants to be known as someone who wasn’t just a good football player.

“Being a good person, not acting like you’re all that,” McQuitty said. “I just want to make my family and friends proud.”