Prepared for the Next Level

Thanks to his family and academic background John Theus won't need to flip a switch when he arrives at Georgia.

JACKSONVILLE, FL – Its 6:45 a.m. as John Theus sits sprawled out on a set of metal bleachers at the Bolles School football complex, blocking the rising sun with one of his giant hands.

It's the end of July and this day figures to be hot. Summer workouts don't start until 7 a.m., but Theus, joined by his father Paul, agreed to meet two reporters a little early.

"The workouts officially end at nine, but every day for 30 more minutes to an hour the majority of us will be out here throwing the ball around and getting extra work," Theus said.

He's the No. 7 prospect in the nation, a coveted five-star left tackle that's already been the anchor on a Bulldogs' state championship team. He verbally committed to play for Georgia earlier in July.

And yet, Theus gets antsy as the start of the workout approaches.

Teammates begin to gather on the field.

"I have to go in a second," he said.

Bolles coach Charles "Corky" Rogers appears less than a minute later.

"I gotta go," Theus says, as he lurches over two rows of seats at a time to get down to the field. The team is instructed to run a lap around the field and Theus, at 6-6, 295 pounds, surges through the crowd to take the lead.


Lori Theus often works late and cooks dinners for Paul and their three sons ahead of time.

A seven-pound meatloaf and ten pounds of homemade mashed potatoes is a classic. She makes a good roast, too, John said.

Bolles OL John Theus (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)

Nathan, the oldest, spent his first year as a longsnapper at Georgia in 2011. He measures 6-3, 254 pounds. John, 18 months younger than Nathan, is the biggest. Jeremiah is a freshman and already pushing 6-3, with the look of a tight end. And Paul, who is no small man himself, is almost certainty the reason his sons are so large.

Lori lives in a household full of testosterone, but make no mistake, "she runs the show," John said.

"John gets his work ethic from her," Paul said. "She is driven. She takes care of the house, she works and she volunteers for the football team."

Nathan left the nest last summer – redshirting last season. That left John and Jeremiah to fight over dishwashing duties after dinner each night.

"They do laundry," Paul said. "We do it all together. There ain't no five stars in our house. They vacuum. They clean the bathroom. They're very self-sufficient."

And the household was and still is full of competitive spirit, too.

Nathan and John alternated growth spurts through the years before John finally gained the height advantage for good in high school.

Basketball was a favorite hobby, or battleground, for the boys.

"Once I got bigger Nathan would stay on the perimeter and shoot instead of going inside," John said. "Now Jeremiah is really good. He just started beating me."

Trips to the neighborhood pool brought forth made-up games to pass the time.

"All of them would involve tackling," John said.

"They break stuff in the house," Paul said. "I would say they're very physical."

But there "was never a fist fight in the house or anything," John said. The two older brothers enrolled at Bolles when Nathan was in 10th grade and John a freshman. They ran in the same circles and hung out at mostly the same places.

When Nathan signed to play at Georgia in February of 2010 most assumed John would do the same a year later.

"It would have been different going somewhere else, but we could have worked through it, and it wouldn't have hurt our relationship," John said. "It would have been tough, for sure."


Bolles is no ordinary school. There is nothing substandard or even average about the place. Located next to the mouth of the St. Johns River, numerous buildings connected by concrete and cobblestone walkways give the campus a college look and feel.

One of the main buildings used to be an upscale hotel in the 1920s. When the Great Depression slowed tourism the place was converted into a military school.

Decades later, Bolles morphed into a college preparatory academy and began admitting girls in 1971.

The school now has an enrollment of nearly 1,700 boarding and day students from 24 different countries from pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12.

John arrived in August of 2008.

"The football work was definitely hard, but academically it was hard, too," he said. "Coming from middle school to a Bolles English class freshman year was the hardest thing."

Future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones may be the most famous alum, but the school has a tremendous swimming program and Rogers has won nine state titles in football.

Although the student body has a 90 percent participation in one or more sports, most students go on to the top colleges in the country because of academic achievement – 28 have gone to Ivy League institutions in the past five years.

"Its papers, reading and nonstop," John said. "You come home with a ton of homework. The kids here work. If you don't you're not going to make it. The atmosphere here is completely different."

Many analysts have already projected John to be a future NFL player. While that potential won't have the chance to be realized for at least three or four years, John has a couple of alternative career paths in mind.

"Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be a pediatrician," he said. "I know pre-med will be tough, but I'll definitely try it."

"Another thing I've been thinking about is majoring in psychology and being a sports psychologist or something like that. I don't know what the future holds."


Intensity. A nasty streak. Dominating opponents through the whistle of each play.

These qualities have made John a potential starter for Georgia in 2012 before he's even enrolled for his first class.

Thanks to Bolles' offensive philosophy John is particularly adept at punishing run blocking. Off the field, he washes dishes and answers most every question with 'yes sir.' On the field, he loses the pleasantries.

"Sometimes you just snap, and you're ready to go," he said. "When I'm in the tunnel and ready to go that's when the so-called switch comes on. It's business from there."

Adding all the factors up, John is the kind of student-athlete a college coach yearns for. He can flip to a mean-spirited mentality while playing as an offensive lineman. Away from football, the light has long-since been turned on, and there doesn't appear to be an off-switch.

"It's something that God's blessed me with," John said.

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