Football has always been a part of Judge Culpepper’s life and family. His brother Rex is a quarterback at Syracuse University and his father, Brad Culpepper, played in the NFL for nine seasons.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Plant High School defensive lineman and tight end from Tampa, Florida, said he played flag football as a kid and transitioned into tackle football in sixth grade.
“The first week of (tackle football) was a little bit rough, but then I started getting the hang of it and it’s been amazing ever since,” Culpepper said.
Now a sophomore in high school, Culpepper has a difficult decision to make on where he’ll play football in college. With offers from Division I programs like Florida, Alabama, LSU, Maryland, Michigan and USC, Culpepper said he’s thought about the type of school he wants to go to.
“I just want to go to a place that wants me the most,” Culpepper said. “I also want a place that’s a good fit academically and on the football field.”
Despite his team finishing with a 9-3 regular season record and making it to the second round of the Class 7A Florida High School playoffs, Culpepper said there were a few challenges his team had to overcome.
One of these challenges occurred when his brother Rex, the team’s starting quarterback, tore his ACL prior to the start of the season. The injury forced his brother to miss his senior season and as a result, Culpepper had to play quarterback sometimes in place of his brother. Culpepper said the injury was tough on everyone in his family and on his team, but it helped him learn a lot about himself.
“It was tough playing without my brother, but I think we overcame it,” Culpepper said. “I met my goal of finding my own identity, playing hard and making it through the playoffs.”
Culpepper later described his playing style as aggressive, physical and quick. He said his quick feet and hands help him on defensive line, while his speed helps him beat safeties over the top. Despite his strengths, Culpepper said there were a few things he could improve on.
“I can work on just getting better at defensive line and route running,” Culpepper said. “There are always places to improve everywhere.”
At the moment, Culpepper isn’t sure where he’ll play in college, but he said he would take his time and think about it before narrowing down his options.
“I actually have not given it that much thought yet,” Culpepper said. “I still have two more years of this and a lot of the places that have offered me are great schools, but I really haven’t narrowed my choices down at all.”
In order to prepare for next season, Culpepper said he is working out at the gym a lot, working on individual skills and doing 7-on-7 training. He also said he only has two goals for next season.
“Next year I definitely want to win the state championship,” Culpepper said. “I also want to be the best tight end in the state of Florida,”
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