We're just into a new high school sports season and there has already been a troubling impostor found among the scholastic ranks. According to the Associated Press, Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times, a 21-year-old man named Julious Threatts registered to play for the 13-14-year-old Town N' Country Packers of the Tampa Bay Youth Football League on Aug. 21, and played in a game with the team the same day. Threatts, who had a past burglary conviction on his record, reportedly signed up for a spot on the team under the name "Chad Jordan" with a forged birth certificate. After further investigation, it now appears that Threatts -- an avowed Danielle Steele fan who recorded poetry readings on a personal YouTube channel -- also played in the TBYFL two years ago and another youth league in the Tampa area last year.
Make no mistake: This is not a Danny Almonte case of a forged birth certificate or a high school lineman holding a signing ceremony when he wasn't recruited, this is a 21-year-old criminal taking athletic advantage of competing against 14-year-olds.
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"Chad Jordan" might have gotten away with just playing football, but last week he tried to take his middle school imitation act to an actual middle school. Threatts attempted to enroll in Webb Middle School in Hillsborough (Fla.) last Tuesday, but his application was delayed because he lacked the proper paperwork proving his identity. When he was eventually moved to the school social worker's office -- Threatts told school officials he was homeless, so he was waiting with the social worker for the Department of Child and Families to arrive at the school -- his cell phone rang with a call from his mother, wondering where he was. School officials answered and learned Threatts' true identity from his mother, after which the 21-year-old was arrested for trespassing at the school. He has been held in Hillsborough County Jail since last Tuesday.
"I brought him into this room with seven of our board members and coaches and said, 'Come on now, tell us the truth, who are you?' " [Town N' Country Packers athletic director Ray] McCloud [told the Tampa Tribune.] "He looked me right in the eye and said, 'I swear I am who I say I am. I'm Chad Jordan.'
"This guy had us all fooled. I mean this guy acted just like a little kid. Everything about him was a little kid. He's a total scam artist."
McCloud said Threatts' story was sufficiently elaborate to convince all the volunteers who work with the Town N' Country Packers. Threatts claimed that both of his parents were dead and that he had moved to the area from Seattle with his brother. On top of that, Threatts provided an email from Yahoo's own Rivals.com, which, naturally, knew nothing of the existence of any Chad Jordan. This also comes from the Tampa Tribune:
There also was a lengthy e-mail from an alleged scout at the high school recruiting service Rivals.com analyzing Chad Jordan.
McCloud said he believed Threatts also forged the e-mail. The e-mail, which circulated heavily among TBYFL coaches, said Chad Jordan was "a very special prospect" who "hasn't signed" but has "offers from USC (University of Southern California), Texas and Florida." The email included quotes and lengthy statistics.
Obviously, the concern isn't just that a 21-year-old was able to convince overworked and overwhelmed youth football enrollment volunteers that he was a 14-year-old, it's that he was able to do it repeatedly. He was well on his way to playing a third year against 14-year-olds. And Threatts isn't just any 21-year-old, he's a convicted burglar and a convincing con artist.
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Of course, this isn't the first time that someone well beyond their prep years has posed as a scholastic athlete. Just last year a 22-year-old man in Odessa named Guerdwich Montimere claimed to be a 16-year-old Permian (Texas) High School sophomore named Jerry Joseph before finally revealing his true identity when authorities began closing in on his true identity. Months earlier, a 22-year-old man named Anthony Avalos tried to play basketball for Yuma (Ariz.) Kofa High School. Avalos was already attending the school and had played basketball for Kofa High School in the 2008-09 season before he was finally caught. Avalos was charged with forgery and sexual conduct with a minor.
In both those other cases, the 22-year-olds were attempting to play high school basketball. The age difference between 18-year-old seniors and those imposters was only four years, and with basketball players, either 22-year-old could have had a body type that made for a believable high school basketball star. Threatts was trying to play football against kids that were seven and eight years younger. It's remarkable he was able to convince anyone he was that young, even if he stands 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds as reported, a believable stature for a big 14-year-old.
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Clearly, the Tampa Bay Youth Football League needs much higher admission standards, but the same can probably be said for youth football leagues across the country. At least the TBYFL reaction has been suitably furious.
"I was angry," TBYFL president Scott Levinson told the Tampa Tribune. "My goal is to protect kids, to make sure they're all safe and taken care of. We're going to investigate this to the full extent."
- Tampa Tribune