The last six months have been a like football whirlwind for Litchfield Ajavon. The Alexandria (Va.) Episcopal junior-to-be wasn’t on the recruiting radar for any schools heading into the fall, but by the end of the year that had changed.
“I had a breakout season,” Ajavon said. “It was a season where I improved both on and off the field. I had 72 tackles… which led the team… one sack, five forced fumbles, and one interception.”
Because he played on a squad that also featured high profile recruits Luiji Vilain (a Michigan signee) and Jonathan Sutherland (a Penn State signee), a steady stream of college coaches viewed Episcopal’s games over the course of the year. When they did Ajavon’s play would also jump out.
“I’m really aggressive,” said the 6-0, 190-pounder. “I look for contact, I can close on a play quickly, and I can usually get off blocks. And I’m a good team player. If I can’t make a tackle, I try to get into a good position (to turn the play back inside) to my teammates.”
The list of college programs that agree with that assessment is growing, as evidenced by an offer tally that now stands at five. The first to step up to the scholarship plate in early December was the University of Michigan.
“It was surreal,” Ajavon said. “It was my first offer. Coach Harbaugh came to visit (Vilain). Prior to that I had been talking to the safeties coach (Brian Smith) from Michigan. I used to call him, check in, and give him reports on games. We had the communication going, so when Jim Harbaugh came by, my coach told me. First I couldn’t believe we had Jim Harbaugh (in the school). That was great on its own. He told my coach how he liked my style of play, my aggressiveness, and how I like to tackle. He said the University of Michigan would like to give me a full ride scholarship there to play football. When my coach told me (the news) I couldn’t contain myself. I had no idea what to say. It was my first offer. Afterwards I couldn’t walk. I just took off running, clicking my heels. (Laughter). It was crazy. I still can’t believe it. To have Michigan be your first offer… that opened up a lot of doors for me.”
Indeed it did.
Virginia, Georgia, Syracuse, and Boston College also extended offers, while Clemson, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and South Carolina are all showing strong interest. With nearly two years remaining before he has decide upon a school, Ajavon is approaching the next phase of his recruitment in a patient and open-minded manner. He is purposefully shying away from naming early favorites, which is a cue he took from watching successful teammates like Vilain navigate their respective processes.
“(Vilain) is a tremendous leader for our team alongside Jonathan Sutherland,” stated Ajavon. “Luiji is one of THE guys on the team… the guy that other teams would game-plan for. Just having a chance to play with him and pick his mind whenever I had a chance so I could learn from him (was beneficial). We play different positons, but to (learning to) play with his ferocity was a great help throughout the season. He is one of the leaders on the team, no doubt.”
Vilain’s presence at Michigan is a definite plus for the Wolverines, but Ajavon is quick to reiterate that it doesn’t mean he favors the Maize & Blue. His decision will be based upon his own opinion of the school he ultimately picks, and not someone else’s.
“First (on the list of decision criteria) is academic fit,” he explained. “That’s the main goal. I would say the first two (factors) regardless of how (good) the football team is, are relationship with the coaching staff and players, and academic fit. Those are the deciding factors for me.”
“During the spring I should be coming there (to Michigan) with Luiji and my coach so we can catch the spring game. I haven’t gotten an actual date yet, so that’s still (in the planning stage). Over spring break I’m supposed to be going down to Clemson to have a visit. Then again maybe over spring break I could go to (Virginia). Other schools are talking with my coach right now and planning a time when I can go visit. I want to see as many schools as possible.”