Jonathan Justice

Lake Havasu’s Jonathan Justice signs his National Letter of Intent to the Maricopa Mustangs Junior College football team at Lake Havasu High School on Tuesday.

When making his decision of where he’ll play football, Lake Havasu’s Jonathan Justice had some four-year universities and junior college programs to choose from. He didn’t get scholarship offers from NCAA Division I programs, but his next chapter could possibly get him there.

“I almost decided to go to a Division III school, but I had to make the tough choice of do I go to a four year? Or do I go JUCO and try to pursue Division I? And I want to take a chance on myself.”

Justice is going the JUCO route, continuing his football career with the Maricopa Mustangs Junior College football team. The Knights’ edge rusher announced his commitment to the Mustangs on his Twitter account in April and hopes to transfer to a D-I program after next season.

“They’re second in the state right now as far as JUCO goes,” Justice said about the Mustangs. “I figured it’ll be in my best interests to get on a really good team and factoring in playing time. It seemed like the smartest decision to go with a program like that.”

Justice’s next move became official in a small signing ceremony with his family at Lake Havasu High School on Tuesday.

“I’m just very happy that he found a place that he was happy with,” said Knights head coach Karl Thompson, who was also at Justice’s signing. “There were lots of different offers, but it comes down to personal fit and Jon has always been a great advocate for himself and I think he’s found where he wants to go and it’s a springboard for whatever happens next.”

The Mustangs compete in the five-team Hohokam Junior College Athletic Conference and are not affiliated with a particular school. Athletes from those HJCAC programs attend schools that are part of the Maricopa County Community College District to get NCAA eligibility. Justice said he’ll be attending Glendale Community College and plans to major in political science.

The senior said he received interest from FCS Division I programs Northern Arizona University and South Dakota State, but those schools didn’t offer scholarships. Millersville University, a D-II school in Pennsylvania, was another option.

During the 2020 shortened season, Justice recorded a team-high six sacks and 25 tackles in six games. Justice had five and a half sacks with 36 tackles as a sophomore. He didn’t play his junior year due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament that kept him out the entire season.

Justice is also on the Knights track team and is currently ranked No. 5 in the state for shot put and No. 11 in javelin.

“We’re very lucky that he was a part of our program and wish him the best of luck,” Thompson said.

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Jeremiah Martinez is a California native and a graduate of Sacramento State University. He covers sports and recreation for the Today's News-Herald. You may reach Jeremiah at jmartinez@havasunews.com and you could follow him on Twitter @TheJerryMartin.

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