Liston: I Need to Finish Strong

Hargrave Military Academy (Suffolk, Va.) proved to be exactly what Rutgers commit Lester Liston needed to take the next step, but he needs a strong finish before spring enrollment. Preparing for his six final exams, Liston spoke with about his final prep-school hurdle.

Linebacker Lester Liston was not ready for college football when he finished his high school career at Grand Blanc (Mich.). But after spending the fall at Hargrave Military Academy (Suffolk, Va.), Liston is one step from his dream of Division I football.

Verbally committing to Rutgers a month into his time at prep school, a week of final exams is all that stands between Liston's spring enrollment.

"I need to finish strong," Liston said. "I can't just let up now. I started off strong, so I have to finish strong."

Liston has the ACT marks he needs for enrollment, but needs a strong finish on his exams to lock up his spot at Rutgers.

Getting A's and B's throughout the semester, Liston needs the same grades during final exam week.

"Like they always say, big time players make big time plays," Liston said. "It's the same thing in the classroom. I want to be a big time player, so I have to get this done before Friday."

Regardless of the result, Liston said he is happy with his hard work at Hargrave.

Hargrave did well to help him get this far, Liston said, and that the school has him ready to tackle challenges in his final week.

"That's why I've been [at Hargrave] the past four and a half months, to get it this done," Liston said. "I'm going to take everything that I learned here and bring it to Rutgers."

Officially visiting Rutgers last month, Liston saw the campus for the first time. He has a relationship with linebackers coach Dave Cohen from high school, when Cohen worked at Western Michigan.

Liston also met coach Kyle Flood for the first time, bonded with host and future starting running back Savon Huggins and watched a Russell Athletic Bowl practice.

"That was a huge motivator for me," Liston said. "It made me want to get there more. It made me want to work harder."

So for the next week, Liston is official in shutdown mode for finals. Hitting the books and focused on his finals, getting the grades he needs will get him through the NCAA clearing house and moved in to his new Piscataway home on Friday.

"I've been cutting my phone off lately," he said. "Getting off the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and everything. I'm really focused on my academics. I'm treating this like it's a do or die situation for me. I know I have to do this, no ifs ands or buts."

Should Liston come up short and not qualify, he can still enroll at Rutgers for training camp by getting the grades he needs this spring.

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