Heavy-hearted Jadon Haselwood closes out prep career with epic play to honor slain teammate
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ATLANTA — The helmet said number 2. Yet the jersey said Jadon Haselwood wore number 11 on Tuesday.
The play he made said why is rated as the best receiver prospect in America. Was the play all that special? Maybe not in the context of a rep. Elite receivers should make that play.
I still think it was. Especially when the moment called for his best when his very best was required. He delivered with the state title on the line.
When it was over, he had one phrase to share in the middle of a state championship: “Long Live Trevon.”
Haselwood cast aside his No. 2 jersey for that game to wear a new No. 11. That was the number worn last season by Trevon Richardson. His go-to-Waffle-House-on-a-dime-with-ya-friend.
This. Was. The. Hollywood. Ending.
“I wore Trevon’s jersey today and made a big catch to win the game,” he said. “That’s like a dream come true.”
Richardson lost his life to a bullet over the summer. That’s why Haselwood has worn the phrase “LLT” on his arm sleeves and towels all season.
Down 13-7 with seconds to go, the 5-star recruit caught the pass of his life to deliver the state championship for Cedar Grove High School inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Jadon Haselwood folks. They just don’t throw out those 5-star ratings lightly. Down 13-7. 4th Q. Makes this catch with four seconds to play. Cedar Grove goes on to a 14-13 win for the GHSA Class 3A state title. pic.twitter.com/3FLG528EcD
— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) December 11, 2018
It was a day where he swapped jerseys. And a day where he showcased his final five schools on his cleats of all things. (The expected contenders were there plus a new fifth school in Tennessee)
No one will remember that as his top 5 shoe release day.
Haselwood will not. His future college coach might remember the fact he should not have taken his helmet off in the euphoria after that catch.
But that’s for a meeting room to be named later. The 5-star receiver summed up the moment in his own way.
“I might start crying,” Haselwood said while recalling the moment. “It went from excitement [for me] to crying.”
No one will probably remember it was 3rd-and-the season from the Peach County 23.
They will think of that play. Not the countless work it takes every day to make that play.
The “Long Live Trevon” Play for Jadon Haselwood
Trevon Richardson was murdered. Another young life silenced far too soon. That sentence is very tough to type in a story about a state championship football game.
“I stopped by his gravesite this morning,” Haselwood said. “Matter of fact. Just putting it on. I still shed a few tears. You know what I am saying? We played ball together.”
It took place just days after his graduation outside an Atlanta-area apartment complex. Published reports said his graduation money was missing.
He was just 18 years old. Richardson, a receiver just like Haselwood, had signed a football scholarship to play for Valdosta State in the class of 2018.
His Saints all called him “Lil’ Trey.” The newly-minted state champions even unfurled a banner on the trophy podium to honor him.
“I know he was looking down,” Haselwood said. “I know that. For sure. … I could feel it. I could feel that on that field right there [and] I know he was looking down. With a smile.”
That’s what Haselwood said he felt, too. When the game was finally over, he buckled under the weight on the day. He hit his knees and just wept.
Was it relief? Gratitude?
“Emotions there,” he said. “Emotions. All of it.”
What Jadon Haselwood said before the play of his life
When Cedar Grove was presented with the state championship trophy for the second time in Haselwood’s prep career, he kept looking up to the sky.
Over and over.
“Giving thanks to the man above,” he said.
Haselwood felt the loss of his friend was the toughest of his life. Now that sadness will be mixed in with a day like Tuesday.
“It was all so tough for me,” Haselwood said this summer. “I was crying about ‘Trey’ for about two weeks after that. I was a pallbearer at the funeral. It kind of hurt me in a deep way.”
Haselwood said then that losing Richardson was like losing a brother.
“We used to hang out all the time,” Haselwood said. “We used to always hang out with each other at one another’s houses after games and we’d always go to Waffle House together. Ride in the same car.”
He told his guys in the huddle he was ready to make that play.
“I told them to throw me the ball,” Haselwood said. “Then I told them ‘I was going to be open’ was what I told them. I looked [his quarterback] in the eye and he looked me in the eye and shook his head yeah. I knew then I was getting the play. So I knew I had to make a play.”
He was being honest afterward. He didn’t have his best game. Haselwood summed up the balance of his game prior to that catch as just two plays on special teams.
“I had one catch,” Haselwood said. “That was my second catch I believe. It was not my best game, but we won.”
If only those that make snap judgments about Haselwood could see that in a quick tweet or social media post. They would learn that this guy really just wants to win.
“That’s a memory,” Haselwood said of that catch. “I’ll never forget that one. I’ll never forget it.”
For those that just skim paragraphs for the part about Haselwood and a big choice of schools, then the next few subjects are for you.
It goes a little deeper than noting the Georgia Bulldog was located at the tip of his shoe across his toes.
The top 5 schools reveal for Jadon Haselwood
There are times where Jadon Haselwood acts like an old soul.
The jersey tribute for “LLT” is evidence of that. There are others where he shows he is still a high school kid.
He chose to share his top 5 via his footwear on Tuesday.
That’s a thing may be all the kids will soon do these days.
Top 5 in a tweet? Nah, Haselwood did his top 5 with a cleat.
“I had my top 5 on there,” he said. “I had “CG Saints” and I had “Long Live Trey” on there as well.
Then he shared it with his own tweet.
— F E D E R A L 🎱 ² (@jadon_haselwood) December 11, 2018
The shoes said FSU, Georgia, Miami, Oklahoma and Tennessee. He said he still plans to sign next week during the early period.
Was that a change of plan? He had that idea in mind on Tuesday.
“I’m signing,” Haselwood said. “But nobody is going to know until I announce. Except the schools.”
Georgia packed in a bevy of coaches at GHSA state championships on Tuesday. Kirby Smart was there in the tunnel. So was receivers coach Cortez Hankton. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney was in the end zone to see the entire game-winning touchdown unfold.
Haselwood was trying to play a game. But he noticed those guys.
“I try not to get into it,” he said. “Know what I am saying? Because I don’t need any distractions. But to me, I feel like that is pressure. I try to get away from all of that and just play ball. I did see everybody after the game, though.”
What did that mean?
“I really can’t answer that,” he said. “That’s a good question.”
Rolling through that final five for Jadon Haselwood
When he rolled through those five options, it seemed like his mind was where it should be. The joys of a state title. Not his college future in January.
Haselwood still has his last official visit planned for this weekend to Georgia. Does he know where he wants to go?
“I don’t know,” he said. “With that top 5, I have still got some thinking to do. I am having a sitdown on Tuesday with my family I believe. We are going to discuss this.”
That will be next Tuesday. It sounds like his December to remember will cover a lot of big Tuesdays.
Here’s his recall on why those five were in there:
- Tennessee: “Coach [David] Johnson. He’s from Memphis I believe. He’s coached some good receivers. He has got a pretty good background. Coach [Jeremy] Pruitt is a good dude. We kind of clicked.”
- FSU: “[Wide receivers] Coach [David] Kelly and I click. [They run] the same offense I am running right now. That change wouldn’t be a big change for me.’
- Oklahoma: “You know why. They are putting that thing in the air.”
- Miami: “I’ve got the ‘U’ and I’ve got UGA. The ‘U’ they got Jeff [Thomas] he left. ‘Canes are leaving. I believe I can come in and make plays.”
- Georgia: “You got Georgia. I feel like they are going to open the throwing game up a little bit. Coach [Cortez] Hankton. Good coach. Played in the league as well so.”
The Bulldogs have made two weekly in-home visits of late. They have been putting a push on him. He laughed when asked if he felt that Georgia was coming in harder down the stretch.
“It is the same message,” Haselwood said. “Since I had been committed they treat me the same way. Ever since I had been committed and before. They are still on me hard.”
Haselwood wished he still had his Waffle House friend back. He would like to change that. Other than that, he just authored a final finish to his senior season which he will not live down.
“Just keep pushing,” Haselwood said. “That’s my only option. The next day the sun is still going to rise.”
Haselwood has a skill set where it does not seem dangerous to project he will be playing on Sundays in a venue like Mercedes-Benz Stadium in three to four years.
He might have a Tuesday memory that tops all those to come on those Saturday and Sundays.
“I’m going to give them that last play in full detail,” Haselwood said. “And then the celebrating with my teammates.”
Jadon Haselwood has won multiple GHSA state track championships at Cedar Grove. He now has a pair of state championship rings for 2016 and 2018.
This one was different.
“We did it for Trevon,” he said.
Richardson was a wide receiver, too. Haselwood had an idea about what he would have said about that game-winning catch.
“Little bro, you hard,” Haselwood said. “Those would be his exact words.”
That’s what Trevon would have said. And that just sounds right.
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