Ritzie chooses Tar Heels

Jahvaree Ritzie has chosen the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to play football next season.

Ritzie chooses Tar Heels
January 06
13:17 2021

Glenn’s highly touted senior defensive end, Jahvaree Ritzie, has chosen the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to play college football. Ritzie had most of the blue blood programs after him, but chose to stay close to home.

“To be honest, it was family,” he said about his feeling toward the Tar Heels. “Every chance I had to go up there, I just had this feeling and then I started to realize that it was a family feeling. I knew that was the right place for me, so every time I went up there, it felt like home.”

The four-star prospect has graduated early from high school and will enroll at UNC Chapel Hill for the spring semester. He says he wasn’t disappointed in not being able to play his senior season, because he was ready to make the leap to the collegiate level.  

Ritzie enjoyed going through the recruiting process. Having the opportunity to visit different campuses and having coaches explain why he should attend was a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

“When you start to get recruited by big colleges and talking to Division I coaches, it’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “But at the same time, you start to realize that it’s a business decision and you realize that you are preparing yourself for the future and the next steps in your life.

“You have to realize that this is a life-changing event, so you have to take it seriously at the same time. You have to know what’s right for you, because you can’t go off of what you hear or what people tell you. You have to look at everything during the recruiting process, so it’s tough and something to enjoy at the same time.”

Family and friends were behind Ritzie’s choice of the Tar Heels. He says there was a mix of emotions once it was all over.

“It was a relief because we finally realized this recruiting process would be over with,” said Ritzie. “It was emotional and at the same time it was exciting, because it’s the next step in life, you know. It’s going to be tough, but exciting.”

Kindra Ritzie-Worthy, Jahvaree’s mom, added, “It was a couple of schools that I honestly didn’t have an issue with him choosing. I am not from here originally, so I don’t have any bias, but I was pleased that he did choose Chapel Hill and the reason being because the relationship we built with Coach (Tim) Cross, which is his defensive line coach. He is an amazing man, on and off the field, grounded spiritually, and that says a lot to me personally.”

Ritzie has been playing football since the age of five. Growing up, he played just about every position on the field except for offensive line, tight end and defensive line. Remarkably, he didn’t start playing defensive end until his sophomore year. He also has been a track and field and cross-country athlete for years as well, which has helped with his athleticism and flexibility.

Spirituality is very important to Ritzie. He credits God for giving him the ability to play football at a high level and prays for guidance daily, which shows how humble the young man is.

“Every day I pray to God and let Him guide me in the right places, because that’s really who I am through Him,” he said about his faith. “I just allow God to take control and allow him to guide me everywhere.”

Enrolling for the spring semester will give Ritzie extra time to prepare for the season next fall. He expects to make his presence felt on the team sooner than later.

“I just want to make a huge impact by coming in and playing early and after that continue to build upon that,” he said. “I’d like to win a national championship with the guys, that’s the goal in college to be honest.”

Ritzie has been doing several things to keep himself in shape. At 6’5” 275 lbs. and extremely athletic, Ritzie is tailor-made for the defensive end position, so he aims to continue building on that foundation.

“I’ve been eating right, running cross country with my mom, lifting weights at home, really just doing all I can to make sure my body stays the way it needs to be,” he said about his workout regimen. “At the same time, I have to have the mindset to prepare for the next level, because that’s a big thing as well.”

Realizing there is room for improvement, Ritzie continues to hone his craft in all areas. He knows that’s what it will take to excel on the next level and potentially the NFL.

“Everything, there is not one specific thing I need to work on, I need to work on everything,” he said about what he needs to improve upon. “That will help me advance to be better than what people say I can be. They say I can be a great athlete, but I want to be better than a great athlete. I don’t know what that is, but I’ll find out by continuing to just push myself to be better at what I’m doing.”

To be one of the highest ranked recruits in the nation was not something that was on Ritzie’s radar as a freshman. In fact, he had no thoughts about playing football at the next level, because he was focused on getting acclimated in the classroom.

“I wasn’t focused on going to college, to be honest,” he said. “I was just really trying to get ahead on my books. I just wanted to be who I could be and understand the whole high school thing.”

Ritzie-Worthy said, “It’s not something we had talked about, because academics have been something that I have always expressed and that’s where our focus was. That wasn’t something we had looked at, but he has been playing football since he was four years old and has been great at it, so that is the ideal course of action, but it wasn’t the conversation we had when he started high school. It just fell into place and interesting how things change over the years.”  

Ritzie also suffered a knee injury during his freshman season that required surgery. He was unclear as to whether he would be able to return to the field, so that threw his plans off track at that moment.

“I was focused on healing myself and getting ready for my sophomore season and as it turns out, just keeping your faith and just praying every day and having a relationship with God really pushed me to do what I can do,” he went on to say.

Ritzie-Worthy says the entire process has been an emotional whirlwind for her. She stated when they received his acceptance letter to Chapel Hill, she has been crying ever since.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling and my emotions are on high,” she said. “I can’t even tell anyone why I feel the way I do, but I’m looking forward to the experience that he will encounter. The opportunities are once in a lifetime and many young men would love to have this opportunity and I’m proud of him.”

As Ritzie finishes up his high school career, he has fond memories of his teammates and coaching staff. He says the bond he built with the guys will never be broken.

“The coaching staff was great and they played a big role in my life, to be honest,” he said. “The players pushed me to be great and we motivated one another to be the best. I am going to miss the guys and I talk to them every day. I know what I have to do, so it will be great.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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