By Joseph Garcia
He has signed on the dotted line and the ink has dried, finally making it official: Liberty Hill senior Jadon Durity-Boatright is now a Lobo.
Along with thousands of other high school seniors around the country partaking in national signing day (the first Wednesday of February), the multi-sport star signed his letter of intent Wednesday to play football and compete in track and field for the University of New Mexico.
“It feels awesome,” said Durity-Boatright just after he signed the papers. “I just (felt) like wow, this is really happening. But I’m extremely excited and can’t wait to get down there.”
Durity-Boatright took his official visit to the campus, located in Albuquerque, on the weekend of Oct. 6, 2012, when the Lobos football team took on the Texas State Bobcats. He said leading up to signing the papers he was “really anxious and ready for it to happen.” But nothing compared to the anxiety he felt on the two-hour flight from Austin to Albuquerque.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect before I went there,” Durity-Boatright said. “I had heard a bunch of different things from people, so the whole flight there I was so anxious and wondered whether I would like it or not. But once I got there I was like ‘wow’. It’s extremely nice, the campus and the football field are amazing and the mountains around the campus are amazing. I loved it there.”
He will likely be positioned in the defensive backfield in football while playing for former Notre Dame Coach Bob Davies and participate in the triple and long jumps for UNM track and field Coach Joe Franklin. There is also the possibility for Durity-Boatright to run in a few events at the college level.
“Coach Davies told me he liked where the program was heading and he’s excited about all the talent they are getting and already have,” Durity-Boatright shared. “The track coach (Coach Joe Franklin) talked with me and how he was excited to have me. The track program is extremely good and I can’t wait to jump and maybe run for him.”
Currently, the 17-year-old is a major playmaker for Coach Barry Boren on the Liberty Hill Runnin’ Panthers basketball team. The Runnin’ Panthers are in the midst of pushing for a district title and looking ahead to what they hope is a long playoff run. But he never stops honing his crafts for which he is now on scholarship.
He still finds time for football and field training as he aims to improve upon his bronze medal he won at the state meet in the triple jump last year.
“I’ve been working out on my own three times a week,” he said. “And I go to the track on Sundays to work on my triple jump and long jump.”
While he knows where his bread and butter lie, Durity-Boatright is maximizing his athleticism on the basketball court.
Durity-Boatright, recruited to be a defensive back for the Lobos, agrees that defense is his strongest asset on the basketball court. He likens coming up with steals to picking off the quarterback on the football field.
“I feel like my role is to get the team pumped up and to steal the ball when we are on defense,” Durity-Boatright said. “I just read the person with the basketball, try to figure out where he’s going to try and pass it next and bait him into throwing it. That’s when I steal (or) intercept the pass.”
The defensive stalwart leads the Runnin’ Panthers in steals on the season, entering Tuesday night’s game with a gaudy 92 in takeaways in 30 games (3.06 per game). But that is not where his effectiveness on the court ends.
He is also Liberty Hill’s third leading rebounder with 105 (3.5 per game) and its third leading scorer at 6.1 points per game.
“He has been quite an addition to our team after his football season was done,” said Coach Boren. “While Jadon (Durity-Boatright) is not what you would regard as a ‘go-to’ option, he has made key baskets, steals, rebounds, etc. I think that definitely qualifies him as a ‘playmaker’.”
It is unlikely he will take an open jump shot or lead the team in assists. But Boren said while Durity-Boatright is not a conventional basketball player, his athleticism is framework enough to be a good, effective player.
Aspects of football and track and field can be seen in Durity-Boatright’s game when on the court.
“Jadon (Durity-Boatright) is not a polished basketball player, yet it is picturesque to watch him ‘glide’ along on the court,” Boren said. “His running and jumping ability seems so effortless that it looks easy; however, logistics tell us that it is not. That speaks to his superlative athleticism.
“The thing that I have been most pleased with in regard to Jadon (Durity-Boatright) is that he realizes his own inadequacies and tries to play more toward his strengths. This shows maturity and a degree of higher level of thinking,” he said.
Along with his athletic contributions to the basketball team, he is also a vocal leader and an enforcer for the Runnin’ Panthers. Coach Boren said the all-around athlete brings toughness and swagger to the squad and sure is glad Durity-Boatright is wearing purple and gold.
“It does not take genius to recognize his ability, and his colorful personality also lends itself to him being a ‘forceful’ voice on our team,” Boren said. “Put it this way…I had much rather him be on my team than wearing the other team’s jersey.”
And while Durity-Boatright continues to enjoy his high school career while donning a Liberty Hill uniform, he plans to make the most of it and, as always, is striving for the top and a championship. The state meet is months away, but he is focused on bringing a state title to Liberty Hill with his basketball family.
The confident young man says with continued work, an opportunity to lift the championship trophy is not out of the question.
“A trip to state for our basketball team this year is very realistic,” he said. “Each game we are playing more and more like a team and our chemistry is awesome. We still have room for improvement, but that just means we are going to get that much better.”