Eden Prairie defensive end Justice Sullivan could have waited. It was almost a given the junior was going to get more offers, but Sullivan committed to Iowa in late November. Sullivan is not one to worry about collecting offers. He is interested in collecting a championship.
“I can only accept one scholarship,” Sullivan said, “so if I had one offer or thirty offers, it wouldn’t mean anything if I can only select one.”
The Eagles were a young team in 2019.
“We were a little up and down,” Sullivan said. “We had some great games and a few games where I didn’t think we played very well. We had a young team with a lot of sophomores playing. I feel like this year is going to be a good building point.”
He feels the unusually early EP playoff exit will launch the team back to championship form.
“I think the way the season ended (with a dramatic overtime loss to Rosemount in round two of the playoffs) is going to give us the motivation to come back and win,” Sullivan said. “We will be strong on the defensive side, but next year our strength is going to be our offense. We bring back a lot of starters on offense.”
Sullivan’s season got off to a slow start.
“Towards the end of the year, I started to play better,” Sullivan told northstarfootballnews.com. “I had an injury four or five months before the season started, so I couldn’t lift or run. I felt like my conditioning was off. It took a few games to get back into it.”
Primarily a stand-up defensive end, Sullivan would change sides of the defensive line based on the matchup each week.
“I think my strengths are my hands and my quickness. I am not 6’4″ and 270 pounds,” the 6’2″ 220-pound athlete explained. “I am quick off the line and can use my speed.”
Sullivan will be a four-year starter when he lines up for opening night next season. His first year of varsity football was at a high school in Iowa. Sullivan moved to Eden Prairie before his sophomore year.
“For football, it wasn’t a difficult transition,” Sullivan said of his move north. “My teammates were very welcoming. Because I didn’t know anybody, I just did my job and did whatever I was asked. Now, I have built relationships and feel like I am a better teammate.”
Not having to worry about offers or fitting in, Sullivan can focus on EP.
“(Committing early) lifted a big weight off my shoulders. A lot of people were asking about it. Now I don’t have to worry about it, and I can focus on the team.”
Sullivan is also focused on the business of becoming a better football player.
“I am working on my recognition during the game and the speed I play the game. Especially going into college, I am going to have to play faster. I am going to have to dissect plays faster than I do right now. I am going to try to play every rep at full speed and go attack and make plays.”
Part of playing at full speed next season is getting his body ready to go and avoiding a slow start.
“I work out four days a week,” Sullivan said. “I lift three days a week and do a running workout one day a week. This spring, I will be running track. I will run the 100 and throw the shot put, and will still be lifting during the track season. We work on being explosive and fast – not on how much weight we can move.”
Iowa made a move on Sullivan early.
“A lot of teams were looking at me, but Iowa was the first team to offer. I liked that they had faith in me, and I didn’t feel like I needed to wait,” Sullivan – who expects to move to linebacker as a Hawkeye – explained. “Iowa was a great fit. I fit their defense well and like what they are trying to do there. The main thing that separated Iowa from the others was their culture and the tradition of the program. I feel like if I go there, there is no way I can fail. If I do what they say and put in the work, I will become the best player I can be.”
“I thought about waiting and trying to pick up more offers,” Sullivan continued. “Schools were showing a lot of interest, but they wouldn’t pull the trigger. I wanted to go away from home, but not too far away, and there weren’t a lot of the teams around the area that are better than Iowa. I decided there was no point in waiting it out to pick up more offers.”
The point is winning a championship.