From Startings to Signings
Justin Cayenne’s Path to Division 1 College Football
March 17, 2021
If you are applying for a college or program in theater, you submit an audition reel or if you are applying for a college or program in the studio arts, you submit a portfolio.
Most people consider athletics to be a whole different realm of college admissions; a process with terms such as offers, committings, and signings, alien to people that don’t plan on pursuing high level, intercollegiate athletics.
Justin Cayenne, who recently signed to the University of Pennsylvania on February 3, 2021 for football. “I originally got started playing football around 7 or 8. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it so I ended up quitting after a year.”
For me, there was never a real definite moment. Over the years, I developed it from my dad and brother— they are both hard workers and push me everyday.”
— Justin Cayenne
“Two years later, I decided I wanted to get back into it, so I returned to pop warner football for two years, middle school for two years, and just finished my 4th year playing high school football.”
Cayenne quit football – a very uncommon occurrence among student athletes working towards playing their sport in college.
I asked him why he returned and if he had a “this is what I want to do” moment. “For me, there was never a real definite moment. Over the years, I developed it from my dad and brother. They are both hard workers and push me everyday.”
Along with indirect familial push was a goal to continue somewhat of a family tradition of greatness. “Also, my father played Division 1 college basketball, so it was kind of a goal that I wanted to achieve that too and be like him, but through football.”
I’ve always thought that if you are doing something, do it to the best of your ability. I have that same mentality with football. I already know we practice countless hours, so I might as well make the most of them because I am going to be there no matter what.”
Like many athletes, and especially those in contact sports such as football, Justin has had his fair share of obstacles, including breaking his foot three times, a torn labrum, dislocated shoulder, concussion, and foot and shoulder surgeries. Despite the challenges and setbacks, it never stopped him from reaching Division 1 at UPenn.
I’ve always thought that if you are doing something, do it to the best of your ability. I have that same mentality with football.”
— Justin Cayenne
Despite the usual help from his college counselor, Cayenne stated that staffers from University of Pennsylvania did not aid him during the application process.
“My process was the same as any other student who applied to the University of Pennsylvania. I applied early decision and sent my application as soon as possible. I didn’t receive outside help from coaches, administrators, or admissions offices.”
Cayenne also wanted to outline the fact that he cares about his academic presentation as well as his athletics, backed up with statistics such as consistent First Honors and substantial volunteer work. “Athletics do not mean much when it comes to Ivy League admissions,” Cayenne said.
Whether there’s a focus on athletics, academics, or arts, Cayenne perceived common ground in the routine and structure of the Common App. “I committed in August and from then on it was just like any other common app application,”
Cayenne said, “Aside from a few supplemental essays, everything was just as for any other student.”