When Jamar McGloster first arrived at St. Anthony High School almost four years ago, he came with one thing in mind.
“I was a basketball player,” said the 6-foot-8, 300-pound McGloster. “I first came to St. Anthony to play basketball.”
McGloster did exactly that, playing basketball in the Friars’ program for all four years.
“I was on the state championship team my junior year,” McGloster said. “I got my ring.”
During his junior year at St. Anthony, legendary basketball coach Bob Hurley suggested to McGloster that maybe he could try playing football as well.
“I never played football before in my life,” McGloster said. “The first time was my junior year of high school. I was always a big kid, so I thought I would try it. I ended up liking it a lot.”
However, McGloster suffered a setback during that first year of football.
“I tore up my knee,” McGloster said. “I had an MCL [medial collateral ligament] and needed surgery. I also cracked my kneecap.”
So the injury sent McGloster to the sidelines for a while. He missed a month of practice during his senior year, so despite his immense size, McGloster never saw much action with the Friars.
“I played a little bit,” McGloster said. “I was on the team, on the sidelines every game. I pride myself in never quitting in anything I do.”
McGloster thought that he had played his last football game.
“I thought it was over,” McGloster said. “I was probably going to a prep school to see if someone would notice me. But I had zero offers to go to college.”
In May, Syracuse offensive line coach Pat Perles paid a visit to new St. Anthony head football coach Ed Stinson to talk about possible prospects.
“I was walking through the hallway and Coach Perles passed me,” McGloster said. “He then asked me my name and where I was going to school. I told him that I had no scholarships.”
“Since I took the job, I had the chance to meet Jamar and talk to him,” said Stinson, the Hudson County Hall of Fame coach who had a brilliant career at Hoboken. “I heard he had a bad experience with football. But with his size and his athleticism through basketball, he had a lot of potential. I learned quickly that he was a great kid. I introduced Jamar to Coach Perles and they sat down to have a talk.”
McGloster and Perles spoke for about a half hour. McGloster then attended a camp at Milford Academy, a New York prep school, and showed that he had some football skills.
“But I didn’t have the necessary SAT [Scholastic Aptitude Test] scores,” McGloster said.
McGloster took the SAT for a third time in early May. When he got the results in early June, McGloster realized that he had the score necessary to qualify for a four-year college, like Syracuse.
“I called Coach Perles and told him what my score was,” McGloster said. “That’s when everything started to fall into place. I went for a visit to Syracuse, spoke with everyone and I killed it. I think I did so well.”
After the visit, new Syracuse head football coach Scott Shafer offered McGloster a scholarship.
Imagine that. A kid who barely played any high school football gets a scholarship to a major university, one that is joining the prestigious Atlantic Coast Conference this season.
“When I spoke with the coach, I said, `You mean you have a scholarship to offer and you’re offering it to this kid?’” Stinson said. “It’s a unique experience. I’ve been coaching high school and college football for 43 years and I never heard of it. I never even dreamed that a kid who didn’t play could get a [NCAA] Division I scholarship.”
McGloster signed his national letter of intent last week. Most top college programs have their teams all set by this point. Maybe a school will take a chance on a kid, but send him to a prep school first.
Despite his lack of football experience, Syracuse wanted McGloster.
“To think, it all started that one day in the hallway,” McGloster said. “It’s really amazing. I thought there was no chance I was going to college. Now, I’m going to Syracuse.”
The Syracuse coaching staff likes the fact that McGloster has excellent foot skills for someone his size.
“Playing basketball helped that,” said McGloster, who projects to be an offensive tackle with the Orange. “It helped me move around better. They all said that I was pretty light on my feet and they liked my size, that I’m pretty quick for someone my size. I also can jump higher than most people my size.”
After having no offers at all anywhere, McGloster heads to Syracuse in August to begin his college career with the Orange.
“It’s amazing,” McGloster said. “I can’t put it into words. Now I don’t have to pay anything for school. I never dreamed this could happen.”
McGloster said that he plans on majoring in business at Syracuse.
Stinson gets his first Division I prospect at his new job _ and he never even coached the kid. It’s almost too much of a fairytale to comprehend. – Jim Hague