MEBANE, N.C. --- A few years ago, Jonathan Kingsley had yet to see a football in person. Now, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end holds a pair of football scholarship offers. It’s a good thing he can lean on his Eastern Alamance teammate Jonah Melton while navigating the recruiting process.
“He’s very young and very raw,” Eastern Alamance head coach John Kirby said. “… He has good size and athleticism. He’s smart, he’s fast, and he’s a quick learner. Just to be 14 years old, the sky is the limit – he’s going to be a standout by the time he’s a senior.”
A Nigerian who moved to the United States on a student visa during the eighth grade, Kingsley didn’t even consider playing football until he attended Career Day at his middle school.
“Our coaching staff just got into his ear, ‘You need to try [football],’” Kirby said.
And that’s exactly what Kingsley did when he entered Eastern Alamance. He eventually started at defensive end for a team that went undefeated until losing to eventual NCHSAA 3A Champion Rocky Mount in the regional final.
“With his size and his athletic ability, we decided to put his feet to the fire and put him on the varsity team,” Kirby said. “It was kind of out of necessity, because we had a big need there…
“He had growing pains. But, as you watched him on film as the grass got more dingy, he got better.”
Kingsley ended the 2015 season with 104 tackles, including eight for a loss and five sacks. He also had 10 QB hurries, three pass deflections, and returned an interception 91 yards for a touchdown.
Despite his age and inexperience, Kingsley has collected scholarship offers from Appalachian State and NC State. He’s also receiving significant interest from North Carolina.
“I think that any time you have a kid that as a ninth grader is 6-4 and weighs 224 pounds, it kind of strikes you,” Kirby said. “Like a lot of schools, Coach [Keith Heckendorf] has said, ‘We’d like for you to come to camp; we’d like to work with you to see for ourselves what your ability is.’”
With that said, Kingsley plans to camp at all three aforementioned schools this summer.
Just like the sport of football, Kingsley is learning about recruiting on the fly.
“The recruiting process is very foreign to him,” Kirby said. “If Coach [Larry] Fedora walked in here right now, Jonathan wouldn’t know who Coach Fedora was.”
Fortunately, Kingsley has a great resource in teammate Jonah Melton, an offensive lineman who committed to UNC after accumulating a couple dozen offers himself.
“We talk a lot about this stuff,” Kingsley said. “He helps me out a lot.”
Kingsley made his first recruiting visit earlier this month when he traveled to Appalachian State.
During Eastern Alamance practices, Kingsley and Melton make it a point to compete against each other as much as possible. “We’re trying to make each other better,” Kingsley said… Besides football, Kingsley is a part of Eastern Alamance’s basketball and track teams. He said he wishes he could also play soccer -- the sport he played until high school -- but its schedule would interfere with the football season… He plans to major in computer engineering in college.