Minnesota is making a late pitch for former Mundy’s Mill linebacker Jonathan Celestin. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
JONESBORO — At the beginning of the season, Minnesota showed some interest in Jonathan Celestin.
The Big Ten school was waiting to see how he would perform after making the switch from safety to linebacker for his senior season at Mundy’s Mill this past fall.
Celestin did not hear back from Minnesota throughout the season, but that all changed a few weeks ago. The Golden Gopher coaching staff is making a late push for Clayton News Daily Defensive Player of the Year. He flew up to Minneapolis on Friday afternoon for an official visit.
Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior said that Celestin will likely come back home with an offer from the school. Celestin’s only other offers have been from Western Carolina and Valdosta State.
“I don’t think they are flying him up there for nothing,” Manior said. “Minnesota went back and looked at the film on Jonathan, and saw something they liked. He could be a diamond in the rough for them.”
On Thursday evening, Mundy’s Mill running back Rodney Smith committed to Minnesota over East Carolina and Southern Mississippi.
Celestin said he would likely accept the offer once he gets back home to talk with his mother.
“It has always been my dream to play at the highest level in college football,” Celestin said. “Rodney and I have played football together since middle school, and it would be great knowing someone up there if I decided to go.”
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Celestin was asked to move from his safety spot to middle linebacker this past season for Mundy’s Mill, which won a school-record eight games.
Celestin seemed to have made a smooth transition into his new position while helping lead the Tigers to a Region 5-AAAAA, Div. A title. He led the team with 139 tackles, including 92 solo hits. In addition to his tackles, he had six quarterback hurries, two caused fumbles and one fumble recovery.
For the last two seasons, Celestin totaled 178 tackles. As a tight end, he had eight receptions for 91 yards.
“I was sort of surprised when I got a call from Minnesota,” Celestin said. “I really didn’t think they were interested any longer. I know it gets cold of there, and that would be an adjustment. I would love the opportunity to play on the D-I level.”