Justin Cryer ready for big year with Brookshire Royal
There was a time not too long ago when Justin Cryer was simply known as LJ's little brother. A precocious youngster so confident in his own athletic forays, he probably wondered why LJ was getting all the attention.
But Cryer was wise enough to watch and observe as big bro dominated the Greater Houston area hoops scene, setting the city's all-time scoring mark at Morton Ranch High in 2020. He saw the time and effort LJ put into basketball, and the awards, acclaim and athletic scholarship to Baylor that came of it.
"It was his work ethic," Cryer said. "Working to improve every day, at any time. I could see that passion he has, and it's something I try and replicate in myself. I want to work hard doing something every day, just to be a better player for myself."
Now it's the younger Cryer's time to shine, and he's not about to let it out of his grasp.
Cryer was a varsity football and baseball standout his first two years at Morton Ranch before transferring to Brookshire Royal in the spring once his father, Lionel, took the defensive coordinator job under new head coach Theadis Reagins.
Cryer is growing into his own, with a preseason whitewashing of an opponent's left tackle earning statewide attention, and no longer is he in anyone's shadow.
Bellaire High School Left Tackle meets Royal High school LB Juice Cryer.. @CoachReagins @MikeRoach247… https://t.co/eG17KrFJfQ— Coach L. Cryer (@Coach L. Cryer) 1629036575.0
"I know the side of being the younger brother and being under that watch, but it's different, too, in that we both play different sports," Cryer said. "There's no comparison, really. But it's really important people know my name and who I am, and I feel like I'm doing a good job of that so far."
Cryer's nickname is "Juice." His game is full of it.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder is a volatile force of punishment for opposing ballcarriers. And he'll only get better.
Last season was a learning one for Cryer as it was his first year on varsity. He got into seven games as a backup for the Class 6A Mavericks.
"You've got to be able to know your job and get to the football," Cryer said. "I've worked on my speed and getting faster to the ball. I'm taking on blocks better, improving my versatility as a pass-rusher. I'm excited for what's coming."
Cryer will be a game-changer for the 4A Falcons, who have not had a winning season since 2010. Coming from a program that plays in the top class of high school football, and competed against Katy and Tompkins in district play, Cryer's poise and experience have been welcomed.
"He leads by example and he's a vocal leader," Reagins said. "He makes sure guys are lined up right. He understands what we're doing. He understands how to watch film."
Cryer is part of a strong linebacking corps for Royal. As for where he gets his passion, work ethic and tenacity from, all you have to do is look down the sideline at his father. Lionel was a SWAC Defensive Player of the Year when he played linebacker at Grambling.
While Cryer's stats are modest, his film has been impressive enough to draw a scholarship offer from Florida State.
Truly excited to receive an offer from @CoachYACJohnson to continue my education and play football at Florida State… https://t.co/S9n7ZLGJF1— Justin Cryer (@Justin Cryer) 1622046958.0
"It definitely gave me a big boost of confidence, knowing my hard work is paying off and I'm getting somewhere," Cryer said. "I've just got to keep getting better as a player and proving myself."
Cryer practically locked himself in the weight room or film room all summer long. His expectations before even coming to Brookshire was that this season would be his breakout year. Those expectations haven't changed. They've only grown, as he's excited to be one of the faces charged with the responsibility of lifting Royal football out of the basement.
"I want to do everything," Cryer said. "I want district MVP, Defensive Player of the Year. I want to prove I'm one of the best linebackers in my class. As a team, I want to win. I want to win so badly. It's something that's kind of eluded me in high school.
"This year, we have a strong team, offense and defense. We have great coaches, great players. And I feel we can make a great run at it."