When one thinks of Marist College, football does not come to mind right off the bat. Many universities are known for their athletics. Alabama is known for its football, Duke is known for basketball, and Vanderbilt is known for baseball. Marist however, is not known for its sports, but that seemed to change a bit when Juston Christian signed as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens, becoming the third player in the school’s history to sign with a team in the NFL.
Christian grew up in Owings Mills, Maryland just by M&T Bank Stadium. As a kid he grew up watching players like Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, and became a die-hard Ravens fan. When the Ravens were on the TV screen he would always watch. It was the first team he grew up watching.
During the 2018 football season, NFL scouts were coming in packs to see senior star Juston Christian. Throughout his tenure at Marist, he was a two-time Pioneer Football League (PFL), team of the season member and had started at Marist for all four years. Christian was putting up serious numbers for the Red Foxes each week. Receiving for over 250 yards with a pair of touchdowns in a game was not unusual for him. Many NFL team reps were eager to see Christian play. They were all aware of the records he was breaking as reps from the New York Jets, New York Giants, and Buffalo Bills made the trip to Poughkeepsie to watch him practice and play.
“Anyone who watched him play saw the physical dominance he had on the field, but Juston was cerebral with his approach to the game and his match up with the defender. The combination of both is rare,” senior lineman Jerry Prutos said.
Another key to Christian’s success is his poise and ability to perform under pressure. He was a player that was looked upon heavily by the Red Foxes and he had the same high expectations each week no matter who they were playing.
“I can’t speak for Juston but he was not the type of person to show it if he felt pressure. By the 2018 season Juston had played the most reps out of any of us since he was a four-year starter so he had seen everything that a defense could throw at him. Scouts often came to practice to see him during the week so Juston had to be NFL sharp every single day,” Prutos said.
Many of Christian’s former teammates including Prutos, praised Marist football for the opportunity it gives its players to potentially make it in the NFL.
“Any time someone goes on to the next level of competition it’s a credit to many things including the football program. I think the main thing it affirms about Marist is that this school gives you the opportunity and resources to have a shot. Our coaches have made connections with people in the league and if the player can show what the scouts want, they will be there,” Prutos explained.
Christian’s work ethic was also something that was not to be ignored. He was the type of player who constantly worked and tried to improve. He made others around him better, and was a terrific asset to Marist football.
“When I shared the field with him, Juston was a player who was dedicated to his craft and his team. Off the field he still all about his business between classes and treatment. He never wasted a minute that could be used to get better,” Prutos said.
This is not Marist’s first dance with a player that went pro. Former lineman Terrence Fede was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2014 and kicker Jason Myers was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015.
According to Marist football reps, Fede had NFL-caliber size and great production at a position in demand, and he showed his versatility in the way he was used defensively at Marist. Myers was a great study in tenacity, he had some great moments as a placekicker at Marist, but he did not make it to the NFL until three years after he last played at Marist. Myers kicked in the Arena Football League, worked at his craft with a kicking coach, and made the most of his opportunities.
Unfortunately, Christian was out of the NFL last season. There was an issue that arose with his thumb, and he had to undergo an operation. He spent time recovering from the issue. In the fall he had workouts, but ultimately ended up not signed.
The PFL along the years has generated a lot of interest from NFL teams. Scouts are constantly on the prowl for physical attributes and solid intangibles. That enabled Christian to be scouted and get an opportunity with an NFL team. Maybe we will see a comeback from the former Red Fox, but for now he remains unsigned.
Edited by Luke Cassar