Justin Combs, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound cornerback prospect from Iona Prep (N.Y.), is starting to generate buzz for his own name.
After securing his first Division I scholarships back in April, Combs has started to see his stock rise.
He earned Scout.com All-Tournament honors at the New Level 7-on-7 National Championship after a strong performance locking down some of the nation's top receivers.
Despite all of that, there are tough critics out there saying that Combs' talents aren't legit and that his success is tied solely to his name. He uses that doubt to motivate himself to silence those critics.
"Ever since I was young, my father always told me that people were going to have something to say," Combs explained. "At the end of the day, it is all fun and games to try to get you out of your game, but you just have to stay mentally strong and be able to play through it.
"You just shut them up with your ability on the field. Just play and your game will speak for itself. That is the way I feel."
At the beginning of the recruiting process, no one knew for sure if Combs would be a legit candidate to play Division I football, but he has answered all of those questions and reports offers from schools including Wyoming, Middle Tennessee State, UAB and Virginia.
A new school joined the mix last week when Illinois jumped in the game, giving him offers from two BCS-level programs.
"I talked to the coach at Illinois, and they told me that they were going to give me an offer," Combs said. "They seemed very excited. We talked about the academics, the football team, the campus, the life there and stuff like that just so I could know a little bit about it. I am going to go out there and see the campus soon before my season."
Combs is still receiving interest from a number of other top level schools and will be competing for an offer at West Virginia's football camp this weekend.
"My coach told me today that he has been contacted by Iowa, Iowa State and Kansas State and they were interested. UCLA, Arizona State and also Cincinnati said they were going to get back with me this week, so this is a big week for me.
"I am going to West Virginia this weekend for camp and hopefully I can get an offer from them. I have been in contact with them and they seem like they are very excited."
Combs knows it will always be a challenge for him, just being who he is, but that difficulty only adds fuel to his fire.
He has had the chance to live a great life, but he has a different passion — he has had dreams of playing college football — and he wants to make his own name on the grid.
"It is just the stuff you dream about as a kid. Getting letters in the mail and having coaches call you. It is the stuff you hear about, it is actually happening…
"I just want to show my hard work and how it pays off and to show that I deserve that spot and I deserve that scholarship. This why I deserve that scholarship — I am going to show you why."
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