“He’s a kid well beyond his years,” Cuthbertson head coach David Johnson said. “He’s only just a sophomore, but his maturity and football understanding has just developed so much in the last year. He’s really able to dominate some games. He just has great hands.
“When I first saw him walk on the field, I thought he was a junior or senior just by his body build.”
Cauthen played running back throughout middle school, but was converted to receiver once he got to Cuthbertson. Although physically ready for varsity play as a freshman, Johnson kept Cauthen on junior varsity for seasoning.
“I didn’t think he was ready to go up against 18-year old safeties that had been playing for a while,” Johnson said.
However, after averaging four touchdowns a game on JV, Cauthen was promoted to varsity seven games into the 2013 season.
“He probably belonged up a little earlier than we moved him,” Johnson said. “But, I just didn’t feel comfortable with it just because it was such a new position. Once we got to the bye week, we moved him up.”
In his first varsity game – a grudge match with cross-town rival Marvin Ridge – Cauthen made 11 catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns. However, a groin injury three games later forced him to miss the reason of the season.
Cauthen began this season healthy and on varsity. Six games in, he has 40 receptions for 653 yards and seven touchdowns.
Despite his limited varsity experience, Charlotte, Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, and Old Dominion have offered Cauthen.
“A host of others have said they’re coming,” Johnson said. “They just want to see him in person, first.
“I think they’re attracted to the ceiling. I think when you look at it, there’re plays he makes where there’s just this freakish athletic ability. He makes a play here and he makes a play there and it’s like ‘Wow.’ You expect a senior to make that play, but you don’t’ expect a freshman or sophomore to make that play.”
UNC offered following his performance at Fedora’s Freak Show.
“[Gunter Brewer] was talking to me after the camp and he was really impressed,” Cauthen said. “He saw me going against bigger and older guys, and he was just shocked and impressed. He was talking about how he would like to have me down there more.”
“Gunter has been here and seen him a few times and has made comparisons to Dez [Bryant] and Justin Blackmon in terms of how they looked when they were younger,” Johnson said. “He’s not saying he’ll be anywhere near as good as those guys, but just in the physical tools.”
The Freak Show was Cauthen’s second visit to UNC.
“It was fun,” Cauthen said. “I really liked it. We did our work and then after we played dodge ball – that was fun. I liked that. I just liked the competition through.”
Cauthen first visited UNC for last season’s finale against Duke and then returned a couple of weekends ago when the Tar Heels hosted Virginia Tech.
“I liked it,” Cauthen said. “It was loud and a great atmosphere. I liked everything about it.”
This past weekend, Cauthen visited Clemson for the Louisville game. He hopes to return to Chapel Hill sometime soon, and also make trips to Georgia and Tennessee.
In addition to the schools that have offered, Cauthen has a strong interest in Georgia and Tennessee.
Cuthbertson’s basketball coach has asked Cauthen to try out for the basketball team, but Cauthen remains focus solely on football… Cauthen grew up a UNC basketball fan, but said he doesn’t have a favorite college football team.
J.T. Cauthen Profile
2017 Target: J.T. Cauthen
Inside Carolina Top Stories
NFL Draft PreviewTrubisky could potentially become the ninth Tar Heel to be taken in the top-10 of the NFL Draft.
Inside CarolinaYesterday at 12:46 PM
The Weekly ScoopInside Carolina's weekly subscriber feature provides the latest inside intel.
Inside CarolinaYesterday at 9:02 AM
Brooks Reflects on Recruiting JourneyGarrison Brooks's recruitment was a complicated process with some unexpected turns, but through it all he kept quiet and avoided the media spotlight. On Tuesday evening, UNC's…
Inside CarolinaTuesday at 5:10 PM
Berry ReturningNorth Carolina's junior point guard has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft.
Inside CarolinaTuesday at 3:25 PM