Clayton County

Lovejoy running back calls college commitment ‘satisfying’

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LOVEJOY, Ga. — Bigger isn’t always better.

That’s what Lovejoy running back Zion Custis has been trying to prove on the football field since growth on his diminutive frame capped off at about 5-foot-6.

All Custis has done in a three-year varsity career at Lovejoy is rush for 3,661 yards on 404 carries (that’s 9.1 yards per tote) and 40 touchdowns. But all but 231 of those yards and one of those touchdowns occurred in the last two years.

He’s done it in the largest or second largest classification in one of the most Division I talent rich states in the country. And yet, because of his stature, he was looked over (pun intended) by blue bloods and mid-majors alike.

That all ended on Monday evening, however, when Custis took to Twitter and declared his commitment to Southeast Missouri State.

“It was very satisfying making this decision after being overlooked throughout the recruiting process, because a D-1 school finally took a chance on me,” Custis said.

Southeast Missouri is a Football Championship Subdivision member of the Ohio Valley Conference — the same conference that Jacksonville State, a more regionally recognizable school, competes in. Custis chose SE Missouri over West Georgia, Valdosta State, Alabama State, Tuskegee, Florida A&M and Delta State, among some others.

What stood out most about the school for Custis was the opportunity it affords him to play right away and make an impact on setting the foundation for a budding FCS program.

“When I visited this past weekend, I felt a great since of positive energy there,” he said. “The thought of a football program building with a brick-by-brick theory, I knew I have to be a part of that. Plus, I feel like I can make an immediate impact on and off the field.”

Lovejoy’s Zion Custis has not allowed an early-career injury or his diminutive stature keep him from being one of Georgia’s top rushers. (PHOTO: Gabriel Stovall)

The impact Custis made on the field at Lovejoy was also felt in the record books. Custis rushed for 1,943 yards and 29 touchdowns to not only be the state’s leading rusher in Class AAAAAA and the No. 5 ball carrier in Georgia regardless of classification, but it all set a new single season school rushing record, held formerly by none other than his older cousin Travis Custis.

The elder Custis was apart of Lovejoy’s back-to-back runs at a state championship in the early 2010s.  And being able to keep that record in the family only made Zion appreciate the legacy he’s became apart of.

“Playing at Lovejoy and having a deep football family here has helped me prepare tremendously for my college career,” he said. “I was blessed to see my big brother and big cousins go through it. The pros and cons of it, they all gave me the mental tools that I needed.”

Now, Custis wants to reward SEMO’s program by reciprocating the loyalty extended to him.

“First and foremost, I’m going there to get my college degree and become a positive figure on and off the field there,” he said. “I want to become a greater football player for them and then become a great football player on the next level too.”

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