Missing Dad

#64 J.B. Paxson

<B>J. B. Paxson</B> was one of the most sought after athletes in the nation as a junior. He was being compared to Georgia's David Pollack and was a baseball player that projected to go in the early rounds of the amateur baseball draft. Paxson's life was turned upside down this fall and he'll take the field for Saturday's U.S. Army All-American game with a heavy heart.

"My dad passed away suddenly and it hit me really hard," Paxson said.

"My dad was my best friend. He was always in the stands, all I had to do was look up and there he was. That was taken away from me this year.

"It hasn't hit me really hard yet. I think that day will come this spring during the baseball season. My dad came to every single one of my baseball games and he sat in the same exact spot.

"When I pitch and I get in a jam, all I needed to do was step off the mound, wipe the sweat from my forehead and glance at my dad. He'd look at me and hold his fingers up behind his head.

"If he wanted me to throw a fastball, he'd hold up one finger behind his head, curveball was two fingers. I'm not going to have that this year."

Paxson, a 6-foot-4, 265-pounder, from Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove had 26 sacks as a junior but he found his senior season to be a little harder to get to the quarterback.

"I had a down year. I think I only had 11 sacks. I was double and triple teamed all year. It was frustrating but it's also part of the game.

"When you're an All-American, you get everyone's best shot every week. There were just a lot of distractions this year. My dad was on my mind and I had the recruiting process to deal with. It was overwhelming at times and I'm glad to be an Army-American."

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is played in San Antonio, Texas., at the Alamodome on Jan. 15, 2005, and broadcast nationally on NBC at 1 p.m., Eastern. Scout.com is a sponsor, the official selection partner and exclusive on-line partner of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, as well as the associated U.S. Army Combine for underclassmen.

Paxson is a recruit that probably could have had his pick of schools. J.B. explained why only three schools, Florida, Purdue and Tennessee were mentioned with his name all year.

"It was mainly because of you (media) guys," Paxson said laughing. "Seriously, once it got out that I was this huge Purdue lean because everyone in my family went there, a lot of schools didn't even bother to recruit me.

"The funny thing about the whole thing is that when I went to Tennessee for a visit, I was ready to commit to them.

"I loved Tennessee. Neyland Stadium was incredible and Coach (Greg) Adkins did a great job of recruiting me."

Paxson told Scout.com there were a few reasons for his commitment to Purdue.

"I wanted to be close to my mom," Paxson explained. "With my dad passing, I wanted to be closer to home.

"Another big reason for my commitment was (wide receiver) Selwyn Lymon. He's a major D-1 prospect and when he committed to Purdue, it made my decision that much easier.

"I think Purdue got the best in-state recruits this year with me, Lymon and Jason Werner. Also, my heart was at Purdue. I figured, why should I go anywhere else when my heart was telling me Purdue.

"I've been a Purdue fan my whole life. I could tell you things that happened in Purdue football history that other people probably couldn't."

J.B. Paxson is one of the finest young men that I've ever dealt with in my 12-years as a recruiting-analyst. His maturity reminds me so much of T.J. Duckett, a former high school All-American and current Altanta Falcons tailback.

Here's to hoping that J.B. Paxson finishes off his high school football career in style at the Alomo Dome this weekend and maybe just once, he'll step off the pitching mound this spring, take of his hat, wipe the sweat from his forehead, look over to where his father used to sit and get the answer that he's looking for.

"I just want to thank Scout.com for their thoughts and prayers when my father passed away. When my mom read what yourself and (Jamie) Newberg wrote on the Scout.com site, she was moved. Sometimes you think people just want to call all the time and get information from you. It's nice when you're thought of more than just a recruit." Paxson said.

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