For a few, impromptu moments, Lonnie Young Recreation Center in East Germantown sounded like the student section inside Doak Campbell Stadium at Florida State University.
The reason for the Seminole war chants and tomahawk chops: high school senior Naseir Upshur. After being courted by some of the nation’s top collegiate football programs, the top-ranked tight end from North Philadelphia announced Tuesday that he’d be heading to Tallahassee next season. His dream.
“I’m going to dominate the [Atlantic Coast Conference],” said Upshur after wiping away tears.
His mom and dad couldn’t be prouder.
Nickeya James, Upshur’s mother, choked up as she talked about Tuesday’s decision.
For her, football was a way to keep her son safe and on track. As a single parent, that’s often required a lot of sacrifice and struggle. And so, the fact that it’s paid off — indescribable.
“I don’t regret anything. My main goal was not to lose my son to the streets,” said James. “Where we’re from, a lot of people don’t make it past 18, 20.”
Upshur will be the first in his immediate family to go to college. For Harold Upshur, Naseir’s father, that’s everything.
“It’s about football, but at the same time it’s more about the education that he’s about to get,” he said.
Upshur has been a standout on standout teams at Imhotep Institute Charter High School, a school that’s quickly becoming a factory for Division 1 football recruits.
His strongest skill: blocking. Whether it’s a run or pass play.
“I would find it hard to name someone as good as him,” said Imhotep’s head coach Albie Crosby. “He does it all. He just dominates people.”
Last season, Upshur had 19 catches for 505 yards. Eleven of those were for touchdowns.
“At the next level, I’m going to bring it all,” said Upshur.
Shortly after Tuesday’s annoucement, he headed to practice.