In the second volume of The Draft Not Taken with Jeremy Ebobisse, we focus on his time at Walter Johnson High School and Duke University.
Last week, we laid a foundation on the upbringing of 2017 MLS Superdraft prospect Jeremy Ebobisse. As we all know, high school is one of the biggest steps in a young person’s maturation. It’s also a stage to really showcase one’s athletic prowess. Jeremy attended Walter Johnson High School, where was a star soccer player alongside Gedion Zelalem.
For those who don’t know, Zelalem is a member of the legendary Premier League club Arsenal. “Anyone who had played with him back home immediately understood that he wasn’t in the right place for his development. He was far ahead of his teammates technically, and made the game look so easy, so it was no surprise when the European interest started to flood in,” explained Ebobisse.
He added, “I may not have had the “Premier League talent” to compare him to at the time, but it was quite clear that in order to fulfill his potential, he would need to push himself in a professional environment.”
Unfortunately, the loaded Walter Johnson boy’s soccer team wasn’t able to bring home the state championship. “Losing that championship was devastating. To this day, I still see some of my teammates reminiscing on that game and that season. We had the most talented team on the field, and off the field we genuinely felt like family,” shared Jeremy.
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“The chemistry and cohesion was starting to peak after an undefeated regular season, but we were shocked with 17.4 seconds left in the final. We lost our composure and let Bowie score in OT, ending the game and our hopes. I still use that game as motivation whenever I get to a final as a reminder to finish the job.”
Years removed from that defeat, he is playing alongside Zelalem again. Now with the USMNT’s U-20 club, Ebobisse is having a great time reuniting with the young Gunner. “I had the opportunity to play with him for several years across several different teams, so we have a good understanding of each other. We were always the youngest players on our team so naturally I felt that we looked after each other on the field. To be back on the field with him with the US U-20 is something rare, and really exciting after all these years growing up together and hopefully our paths continue to cross in the future,” acknowledged Jeremy.
After high school, colleges came calling for the talented forward from Bethesda. He eventually decided on Duke University. It was not only athletics that led him to becoming a Blue Devil. Jeremy explains, “It’s a cliché, but I chose Duke for the perfect blend of academics and athletics. For academics, there are only a handful of schools that are better than Duke, and while I was being recruited, the soccer team was still competing for ACC titles. We have had a couple off years but when you have such a prestigious institution and the drive to improve, the results will fall back in our favor.”
When anybody mentions Duke, soccer isn’t usually the first sport to come to mind. Duke basketball has one of the biggest fan bases of any sport, at any level. Were the soccer fans even comparable to the Cameron Crazies? “The crowd at games varied. Non-conference Tuesday nights were pretty empty, mostly just containing our close friends and a few parents.
Big time ACC matchups, however, were pretty packed which gave us an extra edge against our rivals,” answered Jeremy. “Obviously the pinnacle of our regular season is always UNC (University of North Carolina). At home, we can get up to 4500 in a packed Koskinen Stadium. The UNC fans can get quite rowdy but our fans do their best to make sure the visitors aren’t heard.”
Despite loving the university, and developing even more as a player, Jeremy decided to leave school early to sign with Major League Soccer. That doesn’t mean his time on campus is done forever though. Jeremy states, “I definitely plan on returning to Duke.
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That was also a reason behind going to Duke, knowing that I could come back and finish my studies after playing. I have various interests, and started on an economics major in my time there. I think I will finish with econ, but supplement it with a minor or certificate in education or psychology. I think those two minors will help me with my career beyond the field.”