Mars Hill University has been thoroughly scouring the mountains of Western North Carolina for football talent.
And, from Coach Tim Clifton’s perspective, there’s been no better stop on his trail than McDowell High School.
Senior wide receiver Chase Justice made the commitment to join the Lions as a preferred walk-on last Friday, joining two other teammates who are about to get on the road to the Division II program located in Madison County.
Justice, along with fellow receiver Tyler Banks and lineman Tre’ Spearman, make up a three-man unit from McDowell, the biggest of any of the mountain schools to choose the Lions’ path.
Justice (6-foot, 155 pounds) made the decision in recent weeks to forego a potential offer to play baseball at a junior college in Virginia to remain on the gridiron.
“I was able to attend a workout recently and I got a reply back from the coaching staff saying that they had a walk-on spot for me,” said Justice. “So, I had to start getting all the paperwork in order to where I could get in. I really like the campus up there and like the mountain setting. It’s a beautiful place. For me there were no other football offers out there. I did have one offer to play baseball at a junior college but after having the workout and them having a spot, I couldn’t turn it down.”
Justice, a two-year varsity player, came on strong to have a solid outing in 2016. He led the Titans in receptions (40) and was second in receiving yards (339), just seven yards from team leader Tyler Banks. Justice, along with three other McDowell players, had two receiving touchdowns on the season. Having played in all 12 games, Justice had 367 all-purpose yards, which was fourth on the team.
Justice was also a leader by example in the locker room and his senior leadership helped play a role in the Titans’ 5-7 mark last season.
Justice plans on pursuing a major in Geology once he arrives to campus in the fall.
Mars Hill had a 5-6 mark one year ago under Clifton, finishing fourth in the South Atlantic Conference behind league champion Newberry.