Viera’s Lyons commits to play football at University of Florida

Viera High senior defensive tackle Jamari Lyons committed to the University of Florida Wednesday night. The four-star recruit wanted to make the announcement on Oct. 6 because it was his mother's birthday.

Committing to your dream school, well, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Unless, of course, you do it on your mother’s birthday.

That’s just what happened Wednesday night as Viera High four-star defensive tackle Jamari Lyons, surrounded by his parents and his grandparents, committed to the University of Florida.

“I’ve always dreamed of going there,” Lyons said. “I can’t pass up that opportunity. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing. I’m going to chase my dream as far as I can go.”

Lyons held more than 40 college scholarship offers – including one every team in the SEC except for Alabama – and ultimately settled on two finalists: Florida and South Carolina.

He was even wearing a South Carolina hat during part of the day Wednesday just to throw people off.

But he certainly made a lot of people happy Wednesday night when he announced his decision by putting on a Florida hat and doing the Gator chomp.

Lyons’ choice certainly had the approval of his mother, Alicia Jones, who unveiled a Florida shirt after he made the announcement. As for doing it on her birthday …

“I’m speechless about it,” Jones said. “He said he was going to do it and I said, ‘You sure that’s what you want to do?’ He told me, ‘Yes.’”

Lyons wouldn’t have it any other way.

“She means the world to me,” he said. “This is her moment. This is her day. I wanted to show her that I love her. I wanted to do this on her day.

“After this, I’m still going to take her out to dinner. I’m still going to celebrate her birthday. This is just a little pre-celebration.”

It’s easy to see why Lyons had so many scholarship offers. At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, he has the size, strength and quickness to make plays in the backfield. In a game against Eau Gallie earlier this season, he made a tackle by driving an offensive lineman backward and into the ballcarrier.

He has 51 tackles in five games so far this season, with eight sacks and 18 tackles for loss.

For his career, he has 237 total tackles, 62 tackles for loss and 36 sacks.

He will soon join a long list of Brevard County athletes to suit up for the Gators, including former Cocoa High standout Richie Leonard, who is a freshman this season. Others include Holy Trinity’s Marcus Maye (now with the New York Jets), Cocoa’s Jawaan Taylor (now with Jacksonville) and Viera High offensive coordinator Mike Degory, who is considered one of the best offensive linemen to ever play in Gainesville.

“I’m very excited for Jamari for multiple reasons,” Viera football coach Derek Smith said. “One, he’s a very loyal individual. When he picked this school, in his mind, he’s going to stick with that school. There’s not going to be any falters. He’s not going to be in the transfer portal. He’s going to be a Gator from Day One until the day he gets drafted or graduates from college.

“Second, well, it’s kind of exciting because instead of having to watch him on TV, I can watch him locally, which is pretty fun. I know Coach Degory is excited. So is Coach (Richard) Zacke. It’s cool to see that.”

As the anticipation was building around Lyons’ announcement at Beef O’ Brady’s, Smith said he received texts from five Viera High teachers wanting to know which school the senior had picked.

“Jamari is loved by his teachers because he doesn’t think of football first,” Smith said. “He thinks of people. He’s nice to the teachers. He helps teachers when they need help.

“He does what he has to do to become the best student he can.”

Lyons said he plans to major in business with the idea of owning his own business one day.

And while it was simply amazing to draw offers from places like Miami; Ohio State; Florida State; Penn State; Iowa State and Georgia Tech among others, he’s had Florida on his mind ever since they offered him prior to his junior year.

“When they offered me, I cried because that was my dream school,” Lyons said.

And now that dream is about to become reality.

“(It meant) the world,” he said. “This is unbelievable. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing.

“This moment right here, I’ve got to cherish this.”