Jahvaree Ritzie: The big-time DE with track speed and great grades that still loves his Legos
Peep the headline again. This tale will call for a re-read.
It allows the chance today to craft something intriguing about North Carolina DE Jahvaree Ritzie and not mention the hair.
The hair, in and of itself, is certifiably glorious. That’s his signature. Well, maybe except for the fact that he is the textbook picture of what an ideal athlete at the defensive end position looks like.
Even with the hair.
“I started growing it like at the beginning of the eighth-grade year,” he said. “It was during my eighth-grade year for me now my hair is just my hair. It is something I like. I like to have it free.”
“My family is just a hair family. Except for my brother. My brother likes it short and waves. But my mom is the hair and her side of the family is just all hair, too.”
Is it hard to maintain?
“For a helmet, I just put my helmet on,” he said back in early March. “My hair just goes back. You can see I have a helmet on. It is different every day at school. How did I have it today? Today I have it out. Then I put it up for a little bit. Then I took it back out. Then I left it back in. Yesterday it was out for the whole day.”
“I’m not even sure what I am going to do with it tomorrow. Sometimes I even have it done.”
He will braid and twist it.
“That’s not like Samson and my strength,” he said while laughing. “That’s what people at my church say. People at my church say that. Samson. That’s I’m like Samson with my hair but I am like oh my gosh with that. Really? They don’t have to say that. They’re just being real nice.”
— Kindra Ritzie-Worthy (@supermomofjandj) February 16, 2020
He has Georgia high on his list but does not seem to be anywhere close to making a decision. That was even before the COVID-19 global pandemic which has sheltered our nation.
Ritizie enjoyed a trip earlier this year for a “Junior Day” back in January. He had planned to return for another unofficial for G-Day.
“I don’t know why I really liked Georgia so much and felt it was such a great visit,” he said last month. “That’s a good question. What was different? I don’t know. It was just a different atmosphere so we just wanted to come back and enjoy it again.”
The 6-foot-4.5, 270-pound rising senior currently stands as the nation’s No. 14 strong-side DE for the 2021 class on the 247Sports Composite rankings. That places him at No. 210 overall for this cycle.
The well-respected national recruiting analysts, such as Barton Simmons of 247Sports, hint that Ritzie is doing for a rankings bump coming up soon. He’s right on the money with that.
Players like Ritzie simply do not come along that often. Let’s tick off the reasons why:
- His high grade-point average isn’t high enough. He listed it as 3.8 to 3.9. “I’m really trying to get it to a 4.0,” he said.
- Was credited with 74 tackles, 18.5 tackles for losses, 15 hurries and six sacks in 2019.
- Finished fourth in the North Carolina state indoor meet in the shot put with an effort of 52 feet, 11.25 inches.
- His best heave in the shot at an indoor meet so far has been 54 feet, 9 inches. He said his personal best with the shot put was right at 57 feet.
- He planned to run the 4 X 200 meter and 4X 400 meter relay during outdoor season. He will also think about the open 200 and 400 meters at certain meets. That’s just for points for his team. “But my main two are the shot put and the discus.”
- Ritzie plays in the second-largest classification (Class 4A) in North Carolina
- He’s also academically stout. If he wanted to, he could have graduated early as a junior in June. But he plans to take on his senior season and enroll in January.
- There is not a set date when he will make his college decision. He had hoped to make his college commitment in September of his senior year. He was thinking about his school’s homecoming game. He plays for Glenn High School (Kernersville, NC) in the Winston-Salem area. But that’s all up in the air at this time.
- When that time comes, it will be a family decision. They will track all the pros and cons that they notice from a certain school. “We all have got to love it,” he said.
- His faith clearly matters to him and he comes across, even in just a few minutes of conversation, as a very articulate and extremely positive person.
Jahvaree Ritize: What motivates this North Carolina 4-star
He’s clearly driven. That is thanks to a hard-charging Mom.
“To be honest, my reason why is my Mom,” Ritzie said. “Everything that I really do is for her. Because everything that I have done so far has been given to me and came to me because of her. I’m really doing all of this for her. Because if it wasn’t for her, I really wouldn’t have been able to do anything that I’m doing right now.”
When he speaks about his mother, his tone will turn so appreciative and thankful. He makes it clear that Kindra Ritzie-Worthy is really his world.
“She’s gotten me into everything. Track. Football. School. She’s helped me through everything. That’s my ride-or-die right there. That’s really my reason why I do the things I do.”
It makes sense given her athletic background. Ritzie said his mother competed in college at several sports at a small college in New York. He couldn’t place the name of that school.
“She played basketball in college,” he said. “She played volleyball. She played soccer. She played football and she ran track in college.”
His mom’s favorite number is 12. That’s why he is torn between wearing the No. 5 and the No. 12 jersey. It certainly makes sense. Given that level of appreciation he has for his mother.
The hopes he has for his college academic career are wide-ranging. Kind of like his mother’s athletic resume.
“How do I say this,” Ritzie began. “I’m not stuck on one thing. For me, I learn everything. So right now, I love the anatomy field. I want to do anatomy maybe. I love the psychology field. Oh my gosh. I love psychology just to be very honest. Then I love the engineering field, too. Because when I was younger I loved to play with Legos. Legos were really a main thing for me.”
Ritzie loved the Star Wars Legos and The Power Rangers robot droid. He had one of those, along with the Ninjago sets, too.
“I still have them actually,” he said.
When he’s not playing ball, he has his own passions.
“Arts and crafts really,” he said. “Or maybe playing with some toys or something. Legos or Transformers.”
Jahvaree Ritize: What the recruiters say he is capable of
That highlight tape shows off a lot of game. He is actually teammates with elite LB target Raineria “Ra Ra” Dillworth.
But that frame suggests an interior lineman. He is definitely that “5” technique. Possibly a “3” moving inside.
The power broker schools of college football suggest otherwise, including the University of Georgia.
“For me, they are really telling me I could play it all,” Ritzie said. “Because for one, it is because of my athleticism. I can move. Because I do run track as well. I’m actually pretty fast. I can move. So they are really not concerned about my weight or how big I would be. They are like ‘Hey you can do it all’ to me and that’s just not one school. That’s every school actually.”
Check out these clips. Draw your own conclusions.
— Kindra Ritzie-Worthy (@supermomofjandj) March 12, 2020
Ritzie is running the hurdles here. At 275 pounds. Without the help of any Hollywood CGI special effects.
— Kindra Ritzie-Worthy (@supermomofjandj) March 4, 2020
— Kindra Ritzie-Worthy (@supermomofjandj) January 17, 2020
Jahvaree Ritize: What he really likes about Georgia
Ask him what he already likes about Georgia. He will cover a lot of ground with that answer, too.
“Everything,” he said. “It is nothing specific I really like. I just like everything that’s why I can’t pinpoint the specific stuff.”
Tray Scott is his primary recruiter. North Carolina is Scott’s specialty recruiting ground. He’s found Jordan Davis there in the past. He’s also been after the biggest targets in the Carolinas every season.
“He says I can play it all,” Ritzie said. “It is nothing specific. He says it can do it all. He says I can be like Malik Herring. He moves Malik from the outside to the inside out at Georgia. That’s how he sees me when he is recruiting me.”
The message from Scott has been pretty clear.
“Just come in,” Ritzie said. “Make an early impact. Do what I have got to do. If I do what I have got to do, then I can just be a ‘Dawg. For real. He just said if you put in the work that I will perfectly fine to come in and excel at Georgia. That was really what his message is. Come in. Put in the work. You’ll be very good for us.”
North Carolina is a bona fide contender for Ritzie. Mack Brown has done a tremendous job in his revival of that program. The Tar Heels currently have the nation’s No. 3 recruiting class on the 247Sports Composite ratings.
Ohio State is in the mix even though he has yet to visit. He’s listed Duke, Kentucky, LSU, Penn State, South Carolina and Tennessee as some of his top schools in various interviews over the last month.
What is Ritzie looking for in a school?
“It is just really a great education,” he said. “The family vibe for us and just really having a good experience. I get the football piece because that’s what I am going to college for. But at the same time, I want to really enjoy it as well.”
Dillworth, his speedy high school teammate, also has Georgia among his top five schools. Ritzie was actually able to see Athens first before he did back in January.
He had a message for him before he did.
“I just told him it was a great visit to Georgia and he needs to go visit,” Ritzie said. “That was actually the message I sent him that same day I was at Georgia. I said ‘You need to come visit Georgia’ and that’s all I said.”
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