MAULDIN, S.C. (WSPA) – As the phrase goes, ‘it’s lonely at the top’. But Mauldin seniors Jeadyn Lukus and Deuce Caldwell are sharing the spotlight as they navigate the process of choosing a college program.
And with college just one year away, it’s safe to say that reality has set in for the Maverick standouts.
“I’ve been wanting to be a college football player since I could walk, you know? Watching many schools on Saturdays [and] watching the NFL on Sundays,” said Caldwell. “I really feel like it’s a blessing, you know? I’ve just been working hard…just trying to take it day by day. Not follow the wrong crowd, but be my own leader.”
“You see people like college players on TV and think ‘well I mean I’m going to be there not even in a year’, so you gotta get prepared and all that type of stuff,” added Lukus. “And then you’ve got fans sending pictures of you and asking to sign it and send it back to them…Once you see the proof, college coaches are actually interested and all that type of stuff, it makes you want to work even harder and be the best that you can be.”
Caldwell recently committed to North Carolina for the 2022 season. It’s a decision the linebacker and safety hybrid has been working toward for years. Not only does he excel on the field for the Mavs, but also balances time between school and basketball at Legacy Early College.
“[I’d] go lift in the morning at Legacy at like 6:30, then I start my classes at 8:45 and finish around 3:45. And go straight to Mauldin for practice,” he said.
The hard work has paid off for the future Tar Heel.
Lukus, a four-star recruit and top ten cornerback in the country, is still deciding on his college destination. Clemson and UNC are among the contenders. And with offers coming in from all over it can be an overwhelming process, but Lukus says he’s learned to deal with the pressure.
“You have a magnifying glass on you constantly, everyone’s always looking at you. But I like it. You have a target on your back, but you got to embrace that target, really. And I think it makes me play better.”
It also helps to have a teammate going through a similar situation as he and Caldwell can share the unique experience.
“We’ve been together since like seventh or eighth grade,” said Lukus. “So I mean we’re like brothers really. It’s nice to have another person.”
“They’re both going to make it. No question about it,” said Mauldin Head Coach Sayre Nesmith. “They have a good support system around them including us coaches. Failure is not an option for them. So there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll be successful.”
It can be easy to look forward to 2022. But for now, Caldwell and Lukus are focused on one goal that lies ahead: winning a state championship.