Remember His Name: Justus Boone
Can Justus Boone mimic the play of former Gator great Carlos Dunlap? The South Carolina native is willing to risk a move to Gainesville in order to find out.
The city of Sumter, South Carolina, rolls 40,000 residents deep. This is compared to the 134,000 people who call Gainesville home.
So when 2021 football commit, Justus Boone, says he grew up in a small town – he means it.
Furthermore, when he says a social media interaction with former Florida Gator Carlos Dunlap meant the world to him, he means it.
“I come from a real small town. We don’t get much attention,” Boone told GatorBait. “It was a really big deal… coming from him (Dunlap), he has the experience.”
After all, Boone is slated to play in the same position as Dunlap: Defensive end.
But to make things even sweeter, Boone nearly matches the massive size of the current Cincinnati Bengal. Boone stretches 6-foot-5 and weighs 250 pounds. Dunlap, who also came to Gainesville by way of the Palmetto State, was 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds during his final season as a Gator in 2009.
And while a shout out on Twitter from Dunlap was special, it took a lot more for Boone to shy away from his dream offer – an opportunity to be a Gamecock.
“It was a decision I had to make,” Boone admits. “I want to have a great college experience and South Carolina is just very close to home.”
And when Boone really analyzed the play style of Florida’s defense, he found that his decision to turn the cheek to Will Muschamp and Company was becoming something with which was easier to live.
“I feel like it fits me,” Boone told GatorBait. “I won’t have to change my style of play and I was promised to have an opportunity to play as a freshman.”
Boone also yielded offers from Oklahoma, Penn State and Georgia, among others.
But when Boone looks at the schemes of Todd Grantham, he’s sure that he can be an asset to the Gators’ already-stout defensive front.
“They pass rush every down,” Boone said of the Gators. “They get after the quarterback 90-95% of the time. That’s what they do with my position 90-95% of the time.”
Once the four-star prospect settled into his position at defensive end, he began to shape his craft after players like Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack and JJ Watt.
And if the three of those Pro-Bowlers have anything in common, it’s their aggressiveness. And Boone has been taking notes.
Admittedly, Boone nearly hung up his football cleats in effort to pursue basketball more seriously. But after transferring to a different school, he decided to lace up his cleats once more. And it wasn’t long before he remembered why he had an interest in football in the first place.
“I’ll be honest, I just like the vibe, if that makes sense,” Boone explained. “I like going as hard as I want to… hitting someone as hard as I want to. I like the vibe. I can be a beast. You can’t do that in basketball without getting a call.”
In his junior season at Sumter High School, he put his aggression on full display. In the 2019 season, Boone recorded 54 total tackles – 16 of which went for a loss, 6.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Despite being high strung on the football field, Boone is pretty reserved when not having to adopt a beast mentality.
In wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Boone has been filling his time with a number of part-time jobs, one being at a local mechanic shop.
“I don’t go out much,” Boone says. “I’m focused on what I want to do. I just like to do what needs to be done. I like chilling with my family, but I’m really focused on a better life.”
And if Carlos Dunlap is any indication, a college career in Gainesville could be just that for Justus Boone.