Royal’s Cryer commits to bring the ‘Juice’ to Northwestern
Justin Cryer’s nickname “Juice” is fitting. The Class of 2023 Brookshire Royal linebacker and recent Northwestern commit is a physical, violent playmaker. Where “Juice” goes, energy follows.
How Cryer got the name, however, is not as appealing as his game.
“It’s not that cool of a story, really,” Cryer said, laughing. “My dad started calling me it randomly when I was in first grade, and it probably would have ended there as a joke if I didn’t hate it so much. I never understood why he called me that and I never really got an answer. But I would react over the top whenever he called me that, so he only called me that more and more.
“Ever since then, people know me by ‘Juice’ more than my name. It all worked out in the end, though.”
Cryer packs plenty of punch on the football field, and it’s what got the attraction of Northwestern coaches. Cryer visited the Chicago campus on May 13 and verbally committed to the school nine days later.
\u201cThe Commitment\u2026 @topathletemedia\u201d— 3\u2b50\ufe0f Justin Cryer (@3\u2b50\ufe0f Justin Cryer) 1653242819
Northwestern linebackers coach Tim McGarigle sees a lot of potential in the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder as a more athletic Paddy Fisher, the former two-time All-American who led the nation in tackles twice and was a state champion at Katy High School.
Coaches told Cryer he could see early playing time as a third-down pass rusher or covering tight ends, but for Cryer, it was everything off the field that felt right about being a Wildcat.
“It came down to the culture there,” Cryer said. “I got some free time with the players on my visit and the way they interacted, the brotherhood they had, the bond they shared … it was just different from everywhere else. The players really seemed like they loved being around each other. At a lot of places, you’ll see a divide between offense and defense, like linebackers hang out with linebackers, corners hang out with corners. But up there, the D-line was hanging out with receivers. Receivers hung out with the O-line. Quarterbacks hung out with safeties. It was just super cool.”
Cryer holds more than 20 offers, including Arizona State, Florida State, SMU, UTSA and Arkansas. He is a three-star prospect whose stock continues to rise after a breakthrough 2021 season in which he compiled 103 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss and five sacks for Royal, a Class 4A program about eight miles west of Katy.
Cryer has thrived as a Falcon, transferring there from Katy Morton Ranch last summer after his dad, Lionel, got the defensive coordinator job.
“I just played physical,” Cryer said. “It was a point of focus for us and from my dad. If we were going to win games, we had to play physical. In our district, they run a lot, a lot of heavy formations. For me, if I wanted to get my name out there, I had to be different from everybody else and get my physicality out there and get off blocks, make tackles and force turnovers.”
2021 Junior Season Highlights
2021 Junior Season Highlightswww.hudl.com
2021 Junior Season Highlights
Cryer is a genuine young man, selfless and empathetic of others. He left Class 6A Morton Ranch to go play at Royal for Lionel, a former standout linebacker at Grambling State and Southwestern Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Everything Cryer knows about football comes from Lionel, who said there is no real reason why he nicknamed his youngest son what he did and laughs when recalling the story.
“I just started calling him ‘Juice,’” Lionel said, matter-of-factly.
Lionel preaches being violent at the point of attack; Cryer is violent at the point of attack. Lionel preaches striking a defender and keeping feet running through a tackle; Cryer strikes defenders and keeps his feet churning through tackles.
“It was really about playing for my dad and having him right there with me on this journey,” Cryer said.
Now that his future is settled, Cryer’s goals are strictly team oriented. He has embraced the leadership role that comes with being a middle linebacker. He loves teammates turning to him for guidance and support.
This season, he is playing for them. Nothing more, nothing less.
“I just want to help my teammates get better,” Cryer said. “I’ve completed what I’ve wanted to do and achieved my goals. Now I want to help my teammates achieve theirs, whether that’s getting their stats, going to the playoffs, getting them recruiting attention or even if it’s just getting better personally.”