Swartz on sports: J. Michael Sturdivant is far better than anyone could have expected


TJ Vore

No one could’ve predicted just how good freshman wide receiver J. Michael Sturdivant is already.

Swartz on sports, Gabe Swartz

Not even Blue Valley Northwest head football coach Clint Rider could’ve predicted this. Nor should he have. At least not this early. Prior to the season beginning, Rider said he wasn’t sure what role, if any, freshman wide receiver J. Michael Sturdivant would play on BVNW’s varsity team for the 2017 season.

If he can contribute to us at the varsity level, then that’s an opportunity he’ll have, if we feel like he’s ready,” Rider said over the summer.

Over the past two weeks, Sturdivant has proved one thing to be the case.

He’s plenty ready.

And he’s certainly come a long way from looking scared to run routes over the middle of the field against Blue Valley North in his first game, a game in which he totaled three catches for 23 yards.

“He keeps growing and maturing, mentally he’s far, far advanced for where most freshman are at this stage,” Rider said after the Huskies 17-14 loss Friday night against St. James. “Just physically gotta keep building him, and he’s going to be a special, special dude.”

Over the summer Rider went so far as to say Sturdivant is a player who “over the course of his high school career can be one of those types of players that helps turn a program around.”

Certainly Sturdivant’s playing this year could help accelerate the timetable of the Northwest rebuild with young, skill-position players like himself and sophomore running back Edward Thomas gaining plenty of worthwhile experience this year.

Over the last two weeks, Sturdivant has hauled in nine receptions for 123 yards, including the game-winning touchdown reception in BVNW’s 35-28 win over Blue Valley West, and a 42-yard touchdown grab against SJA in which he showed an impressive display of coordination to tip-toe down the sideline and reach the end zone.

“I think I’m doing pretty well,” Sturdivant said, “and if you looked at me, you wouldn’t be able to tell that I’m the freshman out there.”

Sturdivant isn’t just making plays that are impressive for a freshman. He’s making plays that would be impressive for an experienced senior wide receiver, without any such prior experience.

So while senior tight end Jackson Heath might be the focal point of the Huskies offense this year, Sturdivant isn’t waiting his turn at all. With 20 receptions through four games for a total of 204 yards, he has a chance to end up with as many Division 1 offers as Heath–with 17– has now, if not more.

If there’s one thing for certain, there’s no need to wait. The freshman phenom has arrived.