SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – This time of year Friday nights are dedicated to high school basketball games.
Gyms are packed with athletes, parents, cheerleaders and coaches.
On the sidelines of the Jenkins High School team, you’ll find a young man waiting for his turn to be called into play.
Senior Ameen Stevens, 18, proudly wears his ’25’ jersey and provides a noticeably even-keel presence to his teammates who are jumping up and down.
In that moment, he’s living up to his nickname of ‘Even Stevens” well. He’s known to keep a low profile and not seek attention.
But step outside the basketball court and venture under the Friday night lights of a football field and it’s a whole new ball game.
“I’m very quiet. I enjoy people but sometimes I like being to myself. And when I put that helmet on I turn into a different person,” Stevens said. “It’s good aggression. Football is an aggressive sport. I don’t want to go on the field soft and seem like a pushover.”
With nickname spanning from “the stump” to “the machine” to “beast-mode,” a pushover isn’t even in the question for the Running Back. In the past year he has rocketed to be considered among the best in the city for high school football.
Steven’s love for the game began at age five through the Frank Callen Boys and Girls Clubs.
“Growing up it was easy to find trouble. Trouble is easy to find, hard to get out of. And Boys Club provided that safe place to make sure I got my homework done, provide me with a hot meal and allows me to play the game I love, football,” he said.
Stevens, who goes by A.J., grew up in the Boys Club and continued to play and excel in football.
He decided he wanted to get serious and play for Jenkins High School. For how much he continues to grow and learn, he says he always remembers the importance of others.
“You can’t win without a team,” he said. “Without team, you gotta have somebody do their job. In order for me to do my job, the linemen have to do their job.”
Stevens carries himself on the field like he does in life: Head down going full speed ahead.
His senior season as starting Running Back came to an impressive close.
“I rushed 1950 yards, 26 touchdowns, 123 carry’s, I got Region Player of the year, I was First Team All-State,” he said.
His success on the field has also translated into the classroom.
“I enjoy getting an education and I enjoy playing football. Even when I get the chance to do both, I get excited,” he said.
His passion for both ventures has proceeded him to gain notice both on and off the field.
Stevens has been recognized at the 2018 Frank Callen Youth of the Year and this month formally signed to play football on scholarship for Lenior-Rhyne University in North Carolina.
Through it all, he gives credit and honor to his parents for their dedication in his life. A life, he says, is more complex than some might give him credit for on a daily basis.
“There’s more to me than just a football player,” he said. This statement personified through Stevens’ future goals and ambitions.
“I’m planning on majoring in childhood education. I would be a teacher and teach science or to middle school or high school,” he said. “My mission before I die is to change someone’s life for the better. Like it would make my day if a kid told me 30 years from now- 40 years from now, ‘Mr. Stevens, you changed my life for the better.,’ Stevens said.
A bold but focused vision for a person who continues to give back to others while keeping his head down and going full speed ahead.