By Mike Moguin
GTR Sports Writer
Early in September, Booker T. Washington wide receiver J.J. Hester announced where he would be playing college football. Family, teammates, friends, along with BTW coaches, administrators and the student body gathered at the Nathan E. Harris Fieldhouse to watch Hester declare the University of Missouri as his choice.
“It was hectic, chaotic, it was in front of the whole school. But, it was a great feeling overall. I was ready to show everybody where I was going,” Hester said.
Hester, a 6’4″, 180-pound senior who also plays defensive back, chose Mizzou over OU, Arkansas, Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska. One key to his decision was a relationship he developed with one of the assistant coaches who is a BTW alum.
“Also, it’s in the SEC, which I think is the best conference and I just think it’s a good place to show my talents,” Hester said.
The Hornet alum is Garrick McGee, a 1991 graduate who quarterbacked OU for two seasons in the mid-90s and the son of legendary BTW coach Larry McGee.
“I see myself fitting in perfectly. (McGee) and I have been talking, so he’s going to make sure he gets me the ball and make sure I fit well into the offensive scheme,” Hester said.
“Since we’re both from Booker T., it will be good to have two people coming from the same high school working with each other,” he added.
Hester is currently making his own mark in the BTW legacy. He was the MVP in the 2017 Class 6AII state championship game and was the top receiver in the area in 2018. Being part of a program with a history and tradition of state titles in both football and other sports is special to him.
“That’s what I like about being here,” he said.
Hester also runs track and plans to play basketball this year after a two-year hiatus.
What he likes about football is “the overall joy of going out there with my teammates and having fun,” Hester said. As for his positions, “I just like being on the field doing whatever I can to help my team in any way,” he added.
Hester sees himself as a versatile and aggressive playmaker. His favorite NFL team is the Dallas Cowboys. When it comes to favorite wide receivers, “I watch a lot of Julio Jones (of the Atlanta Falcons),” he said. “I like to see how he moves since he is tall like me (Jones stands at 6’3″). I also like to watch Jerry Jeudy (Alabama WR). He’s a real good route runner. He knows how to get off the press. I just like his moves.”
Having won state two years ago, it was hard for Hester and the Hornets when they lost to Stillwater in the state semifinals.
“Our goal was to win back-to-back (state championships),” he said. “But with a lot of injuries, it was definitely hard because we all worked hard throughout the season. So, to just see our dreams crumble was very hard. But the potential for this year is very high. We have a lot of young pups. As you can see, we are a very young team, but very talented.”
Going into District 6AII play, BTW was faced with the challenge of overcoming a 1-2 start with losses coming at the hands of Arkansas powerhouses.
“It’s pretty big. We hold ourselves to high standards and we have to achieve them,” Hester said. “But it’s there. We’ve just got to get in and get on the field everyday.”
The week before district, BTW had an off week. Hester said that it was beneficial because of players that needed time to heal from injuries. “And we have more time to see what we did wrong and fix it,” he added.
BTW opened district play at Bartlesville on Sept. 27 before hosting Bixby, last year’s state champion, in a big game on Oct. 4. The remainder of the schedule consists of being at Shawnee (Oct. 11), home vs. Sapulpa (Oct, 17), at Muskogee (Oct. 25), home vs. Ponca City (Nov. 1) and at Sand Springs (Nov. 8).